Latest news
Review: Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
by Andrew Whipple III

Zombies are pretty important. I say this because, when it comes to video gaming, there hasn’t been a greater prevailing element than that of the shambling dead. Everybody loves them, everybody wants them, and now Capcom has responded with an early gift in the form of the download-only title, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero. As a precursor to Dead Rising 2, Case Zero provides a quality taste of what’s just on the horizon.

Chuck Greene is a motocross legend, but more importantly, he’s a father. His child has contracted the deadly zombie virus and, in order to keep it from consuming her, Chuck must combat it with the miracle drug Zombrex. Unfortunately it’s high in demand, ridiculously expensive, and his truck which was carrying several smaller doses was stolen. Thus Chuck must venture about the fringe-town of Still Creek in the hopes of finding another dose of Zombrex and maybe a ride out of there.

While it seems like a serious affair, you shouldn’t be playing Case Zero for the story. It works for what it’s worth, but the story really only exists to point you in a certain direction. The real hook, just like in the original Dead Rising, is the creative and asinine ways you can murder the undead. You know, like chucking some lawn darts or throwing a football. Chuck can pick up an assortment of weapons littered around the streets and department stores of Still Creek, but there’s something a bit more... imaginative available. This time around Chuck can pick up combinable materials and mould something that’s relatively useless into something that’s impossibly good at zombie slaughter.

Of course I’m talking about the new crafting system. As long as an item has a wrench icon in its name, you can bring it to a workbench and try to combine it with another item. Take, for instance, a leaf rake and a car battery. The latter is unwieldy and slow while the rake is horribly weak; both together make for a terrible weapon. Bring them both to a workbench and you’ll get the wonderfully effective electric rake. Simply touch any zombie with this contraption and it’ll send a powerful electric shock that jettisons them back a distance. That’s a tough feeling to beat.

While we’re on the subject of weapons, you should know that Case Zero utilises a special combo card system. These combo cards let you know what exact materials combine to create one of the nine monstrous inventions in the game. However, you have to earn these combo cards by levelling up or completing something important. Just like in the original game, killing zombies nets you PP (Prestige Points) which help you level up, but if you kill zombies with crafted weapons and have the combo card, you’ll then earn double the PP gained. You can still guess what’s needed to create those special weapons, and if you do guess before you’ve found the combo card, you’ll receive what the game calls a “scratch card.” While only holding the scratch card, your weapon will gain you half the PP and only be capable of one type of attack.

This is Case Zero’s focus; killing, killing, and sometimes completing objectives. From the game’s onset, you have exactly twelve hours until it ends, and that’ll perturb some. I for one don’t enjoy being on a time limit, but it actually adds a bit more to the game. Since it’s short (about three hours), you can play how you want to and then load your character’s stats, money, and level into the next game. This style of gameplay allows for experimentation, and rewards players who go the extra mile to figure out where certain things are located. After my second session, I was done with practically all of my objectives within the first four game hours. Depending on what you accomplish, you’ll see a variety of endings, which is a nice touch. So if you just go around slaughtering zombies and exploring the town, like I did the first time, you’ll get the worst ending possible. That’s fine though, since you’ll at least retain everything for the second go-round, and believe me when I say that you will go through it multiple times.

It’s an addictive game, especially when you find broadswords, paddlesaws, and sniper rifles just waiting to be utilised. When zombies die, they do so in spectacular fashion, often bursting into clouds of blood, losing extremities and sometimes falling into pieces. It really is endless fun, but mindless if you just want to kill things. It’s too bad, then, that there’s actually no explanation of how you achieve the various combo cards. As I said, you definitely get some by levelling up, but you can only get a few in the game and it’s never explained.

It’s also beyond frustrating when trying to find all the survivors. It’s overly complicated because you have to know that during a certain time, a specific survivor appears and then you can save them. It doesn’t help that some require specific items, meaning you’ll be trekking back-and-forth in annoying fetch-quest manner. There’s also a dude named Bob that lets you know what’s going on by flagging you down: it’s really helpful but after completing an objective he actually won’t call out to you unless you enable some type of loading screen, like entering your safe house. Once you go back outside, he’ll then call out to you. Again, there’s no indication of what you have to do.

Visually Case Zero looks decent. The textures are kind-of muddy and there is noticeable slow-down when things get heinous on screen. It should also be noted that I encountered several glitches during my three sessions. One such glitch silenced my cinematic sounds and another actually made a survivor I was leading back to the safe house disappear at the door. There were also a few achievements that I didn’t get for some unknown reason. Thankfully, while annoying, these moments don’t happen too often and don’t completely detract from the overall experience. Still, they are present and sometimes very frustrating.

Case Zero is a successful experiment that’s insanely fun for the $5 asking price. Its semi-archaic objective system and time-based gameplay may deter some, but its ingenious zombie-killing design is as addictive as it is awesome. Only Xbox 360 owners can experience Chuck’s pre-game dilemma, but let’s hope that in the future other platforms can experience small gems like this one.

7/10 [?]

Labels: , , ,

- Andrew Whipple III

Discuss this article in our friendly forums

Sign up to our community today and discuss our articles, debate over upcoming games and organise matches and playsessions with like-minded people just like you.

Liked this? Spread the word - share with your friends!

Done? You might also enjoy these!

All comments are subject to our commenting policy

GGTL Classics
Some of the very best articles dug out from deep in the GGTL archives, written by some of our past and present wordsmiths alike.
Your continued use of this website and/or any others owned by Gamer's Guide to represents your acceptance and indicates your full understanding of all of our legal policies and terms. Our legal policies and terms are legally binding. If you in any way disagree with or refuse to be bound by any part of said legal policies and terms, you are advised to leave this website immediately.