Dead Rising 2: Case West Review

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I was a huge fan of Case Zero leading up to the release of Dead Rising 2. Dead Rising 2 itself started out well enough, but the more I played it, the more the poor design and utter disappointment became undeniable. I actually quit playing after unlocking the complete Arthur suit of armor, which permanently glitches out the entire map. I saw everything it had to offer, good and bad, and found it to be painfully wanting.

Despite all that, I had hope for Case West. After all, I loved the first game, despite its flaws, and would like to enjoy Dead Rising once again. Within the first minute of Case West, however, a cold chill of realization came over me: this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Chuck Greene is a pretty bland character, but I remember liking Frank West. He was a likable guy. Not so in Case West. The titular hero has returned, but Capcom has douchified him almost beyond recognition. Little touches like his indoor shades and chest hair/gaudy necklace (housing Carlito’s locket) combination have shifted his persona from relatable everyman to that asshole with the hot girlfriend that you’d love to punch in the face. Although the original voice actor reportedly returns, Frank’s voice and overall attitude is annoying and considerably more arrogant than before.

So you’re now playing as one bland character, and one fallen icon I’d rather see get eaten alive than ruin my nostalgic memory of; not exactly the formula for a great game. Case West also moves the action from Fortune City, arguably Dead Rising 2’s only viable asset, to a stuffy Phenotrans facility. It’s larger than the area from Case Zero, but when it all looks the same, does it really matter? Dead Rising’s locale variety was always what made it so fun, and yet even that has been stripped away now. The majority of the dozens of possible weapon combos from DR2 are also missing, replaced by seven new ones. You’ll be facing just as many living human enemies (with guns) as zombies this time around, and the new weapons are projectile-heavy, though only the Reaper and Laser Gun, which is a combination of two combo weapons, are worth your time. It’s an interesting twist to see gunplay taking a larger role for a change, and some of the gimmicky-but-ultimately-ignored combos from DR2 (such as the football grenade) are readily available. But again, I spent most of my time running past the hordes of zombies on my way to objectives, finishing the game with a mere 1,200 kills.

Rather than importing your progress over from Dead Rising 2, Case West lazily just starts Chuck off at level 40. Why not increase the level cap to 55 or 60 so players--like myself--who wasted our time maxing Chuck out in the previous game could get something fresh out of the experience? I suppose that would be asking too much at this point. The survivors in Case West don’t even accompany you back to the safehouse; they’re simply automatically rescued (assuming you can find them). I’m assuming this is done because the game is so short, but still, it’s not a Dead Rising party without a caravan of whiny survivors running behind you and whacking each other with 2x4s.

You can only play as Frank if you join a co-op game, but oddly Chuck can now use the camera. When playing solo, Frank will accompany Chuck everywhere, like a permanent survivor who cannot die. The game tells your outright that Frank can handle himself, and indeed he makes for an invaluable asset, or at least a good distraction for some of the tougher enemies end-game and the sole included psycho. You can give Frank weapons, but he’ll eventually break them or run out of bullets and revert back to his trusty baseball bat or wrestling moves. Things are not all gravy though, as even something as simple as saving can often cause you to lose connection with the other player, forcing you to both to wait for the painfully long load times again and again.

What has happened to my once-beloved series? As a standalone XBLA offering, Case West is technically a decent value, a bite-sized slice of Dead Rising 2 with online co-op, but the game it’s wrapped around is nothing special. In many ways, Case West is yet another step back for Dead Rising, further depleting it of the handful of eccentricities that originally made it so great.

Above Average

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William Haley
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