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There are two ways of looking at Capcom's recently released Dead Rising 2: Case Zero.
There's the idea that it is nothing more than a demo for an upcoming title whose fans Capcom is milking for all they're worth by forcing people to drop $5 for a chance to play it.
The opposite tack is that Case Zero is content not normally found in the full game, so it serves as something of a prologue that, for only $5, is a pretty sweet deal.
Obviously only one of these opinions can be correct — shades of gray are for the weak — so where do we land on this intensely meaningless debate? Hit the jump to find out.
Quick answer: The second one. Now go buy it.
Less than quick answer: Here's the real question you need to ask yourself about this game: Do you love the original Dead Rising?
Hold on, before you rush off to have a conversation with yourself about videogames, I have a couple more questions for you to pose. Namely, did you hate having to take pictures in the first game? How about the weapons that were seemingly made out of styrofoam? Or maybe you were just infuriated by your inability to jam a handful of nails into that baseball bat to make a weapon capable of bludgeoning a zombie's brains out while piercing it in multiple places, huh?
Good news everyone! Dead Rising 2 — and by extension, its prologue Case Zero — fixes those issues. The protagonist, Chuck Greene, might seem like a typical Red Bull-sponsored extreme sports douche on first glance, but after spending a few hours with him, I actively like the guy. Plus, his ability to construct really insane ways of killing the undead never gets dull.
Aside from the new main guy, the other big change since the last Dead Rising title is the game's locale. Instead of being trapped in a mall with hordes of Romero's finest, you're trapped in a tiny Southwestern town. The dusty, cracked streets and circa 1950s storefronts would offer an eerie, desolate atmosphere, even without the animated bodies of the recently deceased roaming the sidewalks and alleyways. Maybe it's just my own personal inclination to find that entire section of the country creepy as hell, but the arid landscape works very, very well with the game's one-man-against-the-world, survivalist theme, while avoiding the "Capcom ripped off Dawn of the Dead" jabs that plagued its predecessor.
If I have one complaint about Case Zero, its the inclusion of yet another clock. You're constantly tasked with missions to do certain things by certain times, and while the deadlines are never as annoyingly tight as they were in the original Dead Rising, I really would love a mode that just allows me to explore and decapitate walking corpses at my leisure. If I want to spend 4 hours bowling, should I really be penalized just because my stupid daughter doesn't get her damn "prevent little girls from turning into shambling corpses" medicine?
Verdict: $5 for more Dead Rising? Where do I sign up?
(PS: A gold star to Capcom for allowing all your experience and nifty weapons to carry over into Dead Rising 2 when it hits shelves on the 28th. I always get geek chills when games hook up like that. It's a personality tic left over from the first time I saw a commercial for Sonic & Knuckles.)