Review: Dead Rising 2: Case West (Microsoft Xbox 360)

Dead Rising 2: Case West
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Blue Castle Studios
Genre: Action
Release Date: 12/27/2010

Now that we are three months removed from the release of Blue Castle Studios’ second attempt at the Dead Rising franchise, players can finally pick up Case West in order to absorb the full story of Dead Rising 2. Much like the games before it, you can count on the key formula remaining the same: Players still mow down mobs of zombies, players still need to meet time guidelines to progress the story, players can still combine items to craft even deadlier weapons and players still get to hear Chuck call complete strangers “buddy.”

While Case West is similar in theory to Case Zero, the bump up to $10 might have many questioning what they get for the extra 400 Microsoft Points. Although this new installment doesn’t quite have the novelty and punch the latter enjoyed, if you enjoyed both Case Zero and Dead Rising 2, Case West hits all of the essential factors fans of the series will be concerned about.

Case West launches players straight into a possible ending of Dead Rising 2, with Chuck fending off a zombified T.K. When the situation begins to look grim for Chuck, a well-placed baseball bat from a mysterious survivor saves the day. Just as the subtitle implies, your savior turns out to be Frank West, the fabled photojournalist from the original title. Frank is on location to meet up with Rebecca Chang in order to follow a new lead at a nearby Phenotrans facility to trace the origins of the outbreaks. Those who have played through Dead Rising 2 realize this won’t exactly work at as planned, so in order to clear his name and serve up some payback, Chuck elects to head to the facility in her stead.

From here, there honestly isn’t much to the story, as the crossover pulls in the cliché protagonist ego clash and the two spend most of the game bickering at each other. In short, Frank is chasing a news story and Chuck is looking for evidence to clear his name from the Fortune City outbreak and both characters must rely on a secret source inside the facility to accomplish both.

Most of what occurs between the start and finish of the game shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that played through the second Dead Rising and I was able to predict who the secret source was with very little thought. The survivors trapped inside the facility do little to further the story as well and most of the game is spent running around to gather items or establishing contacts to progress further. In all, what starts as an interesting companion to the Dead Rising 2 story results in a conclusion that does little to serve up answers, but instead dumps a mountain of more questions onto the player. I never felt the story served up a satisfying conclusion and, much like the full retail game, the story did nothing more in the end than make players anticipate a sequel. It’s serviceable narrative, but, in the end, I found it far less interesting than its predecessors as it is clear the main hook of the title is in placing Chuck and Frank into the same scenario.

If you have interest in Case West, I would imagine it is because you have experience with the other titles in the series, so I won’t break down the main mechanics of the title. Those are adequately explained in my review of Case Zero and Mark B.’s Xbox 360 review of Dead Rising 2.

While the former titles are much more involved, Case West gives players a much more streamlined action title. Survivors are employees that know their way around the facility, so they don’t need their hand held when Chuck and Frank assist them in their current dilema. This title also completely dumps the cash collecting from the previous entries as there is nothing to spend money on inside the facility and, perhaps the best news for those who didn”Ëœt like the restrictions the situation caused, there is no Zombrex collecting.

With these changes, Case West pumps up the action aspect of the titles by implementing even more items to use and brand new combo cards for the player to use. Since the facility has plans in motion to defend against outbreaks, there are also fully-armed security guards, anti-contamination handlers equipped with electric prods and Big Daddy-esque Hazard Units packed with heavy armor and impact hammers. Of course, on top of this, players have hundreds of zombies to contend with and this combination makes the situation a little more dire for the zombie bashing duo.

Players will have free reign over the two-story facility and obtaining key cards opens up new sections to explore, including a tunnel fitted with a Left 4 Dead reference. Further promoting the sense of promotion is the ability to level up with experience points to carry Chuck from level 40 to 50, similar to his progression in Dead Rising 2. The rewards provided for leveling up in Case West are accelerated, so players do get a sense of moving from “weak to strong” in this entry. Also, a chunk of new combo cards allow the duo to piece together new items such as a defibrillator and medical tray to electrocute zombies into chunks and the electric prods dropped by zombie handlers lead to a number of other shocking combinations. Much like Case Zero, these new tools will come in handy as the story progresses to a final boss fight that pits players against the head of the facility’s security.

As expected, to reach the true conclusion of the game, players will have to keep strict tabs on the in-game time to ensure the characters are in the right place at the right time to keep contact with the secret source. In total, this will keep players occupied for between one to two hours, but, thankfully, there are a handful of items to keep players coming back for more. Case West is full of hidden items to entice players to return to the facility, with achievements and extra experience points associated with destroying a number of security cameras spread throughout the complex. This installment also brings back photography, although it isn’t mandatory this time around. Players can view any saved pictures at any time and a number of hidden stickers will challenge players to search every nook and cranny of the building. While these won’t entice all players, these hidden trinkets add a bit more replay ability than what was featured in Case Zero.

With an extra $5 paid in for the title, players also get the added benefit of online co-op, which allows a second player to jump in as Frank West. Thankfully, players do not have to babysit Frank while playing single player as he finds weapons, kicks ass and stays alive on his own. Even though Case West is merely a chunk of the Dead Rising 2 experience, there is a lot to do and see, so the assistance of a second player to split up and tackle different tasks is certainly welcomed. This doesn’t mean the character AI isn’t a bit scatterbrained at times such as in Dead Rising 2, but, for the most part, this means players can worry about themselves and trying to stay alive.

Otherwise, this installment will give players all of the graphics, sounds and gameplay they experienced in the other entries. Much like before, if you didn’t like Dead Rising up until this point, Case West will do very little to change your mind, but this newest expansion does slightly change up a few minor details to provide players with a more streamlined, action-focused experience. The voice actors continue to do a respectable job spouting their lines and there is some clever banter between Chuck and Frank in-game, such as when Frank accuses Chuck of stealing his hand-to-hand combat moves. Even though a play through will likely last little more than an hour, fans of the series will be hooked to it the entire time and the extra step Case West takes beyond Dead Rising 2 is worth the price of admission.

The Scores
Graphics: GOOD
Control/Gameplay: INCREDIBLE
Replayability: GREAT
Balance: GREAT
Originality: DECENT
Addictiveness: GREAT
Appeal Factor: VERY GOOD
Miscellaneous: GOOD

Short Attention Span Summary
Much like Case Zero before it, Case West gives Dead Rising fans a treat to close out the year. Being restricted to a single building, Blue Castle Studios streamlines the experience to provide a short burst of zombie slaying action. For the most part, players get more of the same, but the additions provide more mileage out of the Dead Rising 2 experience. Of course, Case West shares the same technical problems and, unfortunately, the storytelling in this installment falls a little flat, but when you boil it down, it provides the simplicity and fun fans of the series have enjoyed through the run of the series.



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