Dead Rising 2: Case West Review

By Matt Cabral - Posted Jan 04, 2011

Dead Rising 2's latest dose of zombie-infected DLC brings back fan-favorite Frank West as well as a bunch of new undead-silencing goodies. Grab a buddy, a baseball bat and a box of nails, and prepare to get bloody!

The Pros
  • Frank West is back, baby!
  • Great co-op
  • New combo weapons
The Cons
  • Can't be Frank if playing solo
  • Co-op is online only

Dead Rising 2: Case West Review:

Before Dead Rising 2 arrived with a zombie-slaughtering vengeance, we got Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, a prologue to the Fortune City-set sequel. While I totally dug the DLC prequel, I was somewhat disappointed it didn’t bridge the gap from the original Dead Rising’s Willamette Mall incident or catch us up with that game’s photojournalist protagonist Frank West.

I was similarly let down when the otherwise excellent Dead Rising 2 introduced co-op play with two identical Chuck Greens, when West clearly would have made an ideal--not to mention more logical--corpse-carving partner. So it brings me great joy to announce that Dead Rising 2: Case West, DR2’s second blood-soaked batch of DLC, addresses both these problems with great success.

Go West

First of all, West isn‘t reduced to a gimmicky cameo, but practically stars in the 360-exclusive download--his name’s not in the title for nothing! Right off the bat we’re re-introduced to the undead-hating shutterbug--in an appropriately heroic way--and discover he’s still pursuing the truth behind the country’s zombie problem.

He quickly establishes an engaging relationship with Chuck that interestingly borders on distrust due to the motocross champ’s alleged involvement in the Fortune City outbreak. The story soon becomes a two-pronged quest to uncover answers that will secure Frank’s scoop while also clearing Chuck’s name.

It’s a neat narrative trick because it not only offers an alternative ending/expansion to DR2, but it brings back Frank without some forced shoe-horning; his involvement makes sense and nicely compliments Chuck’s existing storyline. The two also bounce entertaining banter off each another, making them a no-brainer duo for Dead Rising 3. Hell, I’d even like to see them in a buddy-cop movie spin-off.

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Killing, Redefined

Of course, this series is all about spilling zombie entrails by the gallons, so as good as the story and bro-mance is, it takes a backseat to piling decaying corpses like cord wood.

Case West is broken into three cases (about 4-5 hours of play) much of which takes place in the wide-open spaces of a Phenotran Plant--the Zombrex-producing pharmaceutical giant behind the Fortune City contamination. This means lots of open spaces brimming with foot-dragging foes just begging to meet the business end of your combo weapons. Like DR2, Case West strongly encourages creative killing, and a number of new death-dealers can be combined for maximum blood spillage.

On top of old standbys like the Hail Mary, Drill Bucket, and Dynameat, players can put a fresh spin on their kill sprees with the Zap n’ Shine and Sterilizer. The former combines a floor buffer and electric cattle prod for a shockingly effective zombie sweeper, while the latter takes a subtler, but equally satisfying approach, by feeding toxic chemicals through a syringe gun. Oh, and then there’s the aptly named Reaper; made from a sickle and katana this room-clearing melee combo kicks epic amounts of undead ass.

These are just a few new favorites, but Case West packs plenty more surprises for those willing to tinker a bit in the maintenance rooms. I’ll avoid spoilers by not revealing all the finished products, but I’d highly recommend combining a defibrillator and medical tray, as well as a blast frequency gun and electric prod, ya’ know, just for starters.

Zombie Playground

Unleashing death with your handiwork is even more rewarding this time out thanks to a couple of small tweaks to the core gameplay. For one, there’s a better mix of zombie and human enemy threats, yielding more strategic gameplay when you’re facing, say, a group of brain-dead walkers and a bullet-spraying security team simultaneously.

It’s also incredibly satisfying to strip a zombie wrangler of his electric prod, then fry the flesh off the undead swarming behind you. Survivors are also more capable of holding their own in Case West; you still need to help them out of jams, but there’s no longer a need to baby-sit them back to safety, formerly one of the franchise’s most frustrating tasks.

If you tackle this one alone, you’ll find yourself in the motorcycle jacket of Chuck Green, as Frank automatically defaults to the AI-controlled partner. This is a little disappointing, especially for solo players eager to get behind the Johnny Knoxville-looking photog. That said, Frank can’t die when he’s on his own, and his picture-snapping skills--which still earn pp--can also be used by Chuck.

Additionally, even when braving the undead by yourself, Frank makes a worthy co-op killer. He’s great at beating on bigger baddies while you thin the herd of lesser meat-bags, and he often gets your back just as a live player would.

Case West is a standalone entry, so you needn’t own or even have played DR2. It also starts players at level 40 and equips them with multiple combo-cards; this mean they can jump right into the limb-lopping, head-chopping, gut-spilling action without fear of being sent right back to a checkpoint.

This game wants you to have a balls-out blast, and its great story, Frank West inclusion, tweaked gameplay, and new arsenal of combo killers ensures zombie-haters of all stripes will do just that. If you didn’t dig the previous games, this one probably won’t get you to pick up a spiked baseball bat, as the core Dead Rising formula is still intact. Everyone else, however, would be as brainless as the living dead if they didn’t snatch this one up.