Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is the prequel to Dead Rising 2 and fills in some of the backstory between the original Dead Rising and DR2. Set in the tiny desert town of Still Creek, Case Zero introduces gamers to DR2's protagonist, motocross star Chuck Green, and his infected but as-yet-unturned daughter, Katey, as they try to survive in a world overrun by the walking dead.
- Much more gameplay than you'd expect for $5
- Can import leveled-up character into Dead Rising 2
- Building and using custom weapons is a blast
- Unforgiving time limit discourages exploration
- Requires multiple playthroughs to discover and complete all objectives
- Lack of autosave prior to major events can be frustrating
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is the prequel to Dead Rising 2 and fills in some of the backstory between the original Dead Rising and DR2. Set in the tiny desert town of Still Creek, Case Zero introduces gamers to DR2’s protagonist, motocross star Chuck Green, and his infected but as-yet-unturned daughter, Katey, as they try to survive in a world overrun by the walking dead.
Still Creek: Pop. 700 (and Shambling)
Case Zero begins with Chuck and Katey being stranded in Still Creek after someone steals their truck. Not only does this leave father and daughter surrounded by the ravenous, necrotic reincarnations of the town’s inhabitants, it also costs them their supply of Zombrex, a drug engineered following the Willamette outbreak detailed in Dead Rising.
Zombrex can’t cure zombification, but if given to an infected person who has not yet turned, it can keep them human for an additional 12 hours. Additional doses can be administered indefinitely, but they have to be timed carefully—too much Zombrex is as fatal as winding up as the main course at a zombie buffet. That means that Chuck’s main priorities are to maintain a supply of Zombrex and make sure that Katey receives her doses on schedule.
Fortunately, Chuck is able to find some Zombrex in an overrun military outpost at the outskirts of Still Creek. Unfortunately, that only buys Katey another 12 hours. Even worse, Chuck overhears a military broadcast about reinforcements being deployed to Still Creek. They are scheduled to arrive shortly after Katey needs her next dose. And the military isn’t taking chances with infected humans—even if Katey gets her Zombrex, she’ll be executed if Chuck can’t find a way for them to leave Still Creek before the troops arrive.
A Bite-Sized Taste
Case Zero is a surprisingly generous sample of Dead Rising 2’s revamped gameplay mechanics and does an excellent job of illustrating the enhancements made since Dead Rising. For starters, more zombies can be displayed on the screen simultaneously—a lot more zombies. The combat is more forgiving and the controls are more responsive, especially when using aimed weapons and firearms.
With the right weapons, you can proceed into a mass of zombies without fear of being overwhelmed, and the joy of taking batting practice on a shambling horde doesn’t get old. Of course, as in Dead Rising, weapons can only be used a certain number of times before they fall apart, so the best strategy is still to avoid the undead as much as possible.
The main goal in Case Zero’s story is to find five pieces of a motorcycle strewn around Still Creek, which Chuck can rebuild into a getaway vehicle. As it turns out, this is just one example of Chuck’s general handiness.
If you take two items marked with wrench icons and place them on a toolbench, Chuck can combine them into a new custom weapon. A box of nails combined with a baseball bat results in a spiked bat. Rolling up a newspaper and sticking it in a whiskey bottle creates a Molotov cocktail. And the fusion of an electric drill and metal bucket produces the fiendish drill bucket, which you can stick on a zombie’s head to drill its brain to mush.
Not only do created weapons inflict more damage on your undead foes than the component parts would, they also earn you more PP to level up Chuck, granting him additional health and combat techniques. You can improve Chuck to level 5 in Case Zero, and as a nifty bonus, you can import that version of Chuck into Dead Rising 2 when it comes out and give yourself a bit of a head start.
Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls
If Case Zero is an accurate glimpse of Dead Rising 2, you’ll be glad to have that head start, because just like the original Dead Rising, time is as vicious an enemy as the hordes of zombies that roam Still Creek. Once the clock starts ticking, it’s a mad dash to find the bike parts and bring them back to Chuck and Katey’s gas station safe house.
Finding the parts is only half of the challenge. Retrieving them is another matter entirely. For every part you can simply pick up and carry back, there’s one that you have to convince another character to give you or purchase from a rescued pawnbroker who’s not quite grateful enough to you to just give it to you.
There are other challenges as well, including survivor rescue missions similar to the ones in Dead Rising. Fortunately, the survivor AI is much smarter this time around, and it’s easier to duck and weave through the zombie hordes. And while these rescue missions are purely optional, there’s no faster way to earn PP and level up than by escorting survivors back to the gas station.
But as much as there is to see and do in Still Creek, the unforgiving time limit discourages exploration. In fact, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be able to find all five bike parts within the time limit on your first playthrough, to say nothing of rescuing survivors and overcoming a tough boss who shows up at the worst possible time. Although you can start the story over at any time while retaining Chuck’s current level and unlockable items, Case Zero can start to feel like an apocalyptic Groundhog Day after the third or fourth restart.
That being said, despite the potential for frustration, Case Zero is a tremendous value for 400 Microsoft points (or five bucks, in real money). You’re guaranteed of at least an hour of extremely rich gameplay for each dollar you spent. And after visitng Still Creek, you’ll either decide to that Dead Rising 2 isn’t for you and save yourself $60, or you’ll be chomping at the bit to play the full game and have an upgraded character ready to go on the day of release. Our money is on the latter.