As one of Japan’s biggest publishers, Capcom has the luxury of being able to fill out its Tokyo Game Show booth with some of the most anticipated games set to hit the market and still keep a few cards up its sleeve. This year, it seems one of those cards is Dead Rising 2. The game won’t be appearing on the show floor, but Capcom has elected to stage an event outside the doors of TGS to give press a chance to see what both the single-player and multiplayer will offer. Our multiplayer impressions are on the way, but in the meantime, here’s what we managed to check out in the brief single-player demo.
For starters, it would be more accurate to describe the demo as a snapshot of what sort of gameplay the single-player will offer rather than a look at what sort of story is going to be told. It was essentially a timed challenge that asked us to kill 300 zombies in 10 minutes using any of the weapons lying about the casino environment. Those who have been keeping tabs on Dead Rising 2 will know that the game takes place in the Las Vegas-inspired Fortune City, Nevada, and stars a new protagonist: motocross enthusiast Chuck Greene. But that information didn’t really matter, as the story and characters took a backseat to slaughtering zombies over the course of those 10 minutes.
Lying around the casino were some of the weapons found in Dead Rising, like an electric guitar that produces a discordant guitar riff when you smash in a zombie’s head and a large plush doll that does hardly any damage but looks hilarious when used as a melee weapon. But a bit more exploring revealed some wonderful new weapons, like the medieval sword and the pole with two chainsaws affixed at each end that could carve through zombies like a deadly boat paddle. Other weapons lying around included a handgun, a light machine gun, and, of course, all the roulette tables and slot machine stools in the house.
But it’s in those bladed weapons that you can really see the work that has been put into the new engine, which is the work of new developer Blue Castle Games and not the internal Capcom engine used in the original. Sure, the graphics look great and the screen is capable of being filled with more zombies than a sane human being would ever want to see, but what really grabbed our attention was the realistic slicing and dicing of those hapless undead. The sword, for example, will bisect zombies from their head right on through their torso if you hold down the attack button, but if you wave the sword around more recklessly, you can sever body parts, lop off heads, and even take out small chunks of skin depending on how much contact you make. It seems there are no canned damage animations in the game; instead, there's a realistic damage model that reacts far more realistically to the trajectory of each unique weapon swipe.
But not all of the weapons are of the slice-and-dice variety. We found the Servbot head from the original game, which is a giant mask that you can put on zombies to blind them. While not deadly, it was pretty funny. Other weapons we enjoyed were the craps table rake, the stuffed horse head on a pole toy, and the beach ball, which, well, made a fun squeak sound when we threw it at a zombie’s head. But the real prize was the red plastic gas can, which you can jam spout-first into a zombie’s mouth and then shoot with a gun for a very satisfying explosion.
Like Frank West before him, Chuck isn’t entirely invincible. All the weapons he picks up will eventually degrade and fall apart, and if he takes damage, he’ll need to pick up some food and ingest it to restore his health. (Just don’t slug back two bottles of vodka from behind the bar like we did, because Chuck took a quick trip to Vomit Town right after restoring his health.) You’ll also be judged in cash picked up and PP (style points, essentially). There were a couple of minigames in our demo that doled out each of these in droves: a mechanical bull-riding game that required us to respond to quick-time event button prompts to keep from falling off, and a cash grab machine that let us climb into a booth filled with floating cash and then mash on the A button to grab as much of it as we could. Yes, in case you couldn’t tell, it seems Dead Rising 2 will maintain every bit of the ridiculous sense of humor as its predecessor.
In the end, we were able to clear the 300-dead-zombie threshold with ease. And what was our prize for successfully passing this event? A prize weapon and an extra bonus round to use it in. That prize turned out to be a wheelchair with assault rifles duct-taped onto each side. We simply took a seat on it and then pulled the right trigger to propel forward and held the X button to shoot an infinite stream of bullets at the hundreds of zombies onscreen. Needless to say, we were able to mow those shambling undead down with ease. While completely and totally ridiculous as a weapon, it gave us a good idea of what sort of over-the-top imagination the team at Blue Castle has put into Dead Rising 2. We’re eager to see what else they have in store when the game is released next year. You can expect more coverage leading up to that date.