Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Strike that. Reverse it" A Re-Review of Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

A week or so ago I posted a review of the Xbox Live Arcade Game prologue to Dead Rising 2, Case Zero. I laid into it for having a time limit. I tore the game to shreds (I refuse to make a blatant zombie simile here the way some IGN or GameInformer reviewer might because I do not believe you to be an idiotic teenager who fancies himself a wit-master simply because he finds irony and puns amusing) because I believed the design philosophy of adding a time limit to the experience was at odds with what fun the game did actually offer. While I still stand by my point, in some ways, that time limits are usually unnecessary in video games and in no way provide a sense of suspense, and that I would much rather be free to roam around this little town chopping the undead to bits without a care in the world for anything else, this aspect of the game does not destroy Case Zero, or make it as deserving of my ire as I previously thought. I've come to accept and even appreciate the time limit after several play-throughs. Again, I'd prefer freedom, but you can create your own kind of freedom within the limited time if you simply manage your saves well. The time limit also adds a very arcadey challenge to the experience and occasionally it's nice to experience something that reminds us of yesteryear and provides us a mindless challenge, but albeit a challenge nevertheless. There simply needs to be a remarkable amount of fun to balance this out and make it worthwhile and thankfully there is in Case Zero.After going back, aware of the time limit and what the game offered, I was able to sink my teeth into this game and really come away with a gooey, gushing heart filled with joy. Would a winking emoticon be too obvious right about now?

Case Zero is definitely worth a look for anyone who would like to take a claymore to a crowd of zombies. I'm not going to tell you what happens, but I'm going to advise you to walk up to a zombie with your sword in hand and hold down the X button to unleash the strong attack. My jaw has rarely dropped in honest shock in my life. But it dropped when I saw what happens when you do this.

Saving strangers is obnoxious. The main characters movement speed is so remarkably slow I still suspect I'm missing something, that there simply must be a sprint button. Carrying materials to a work bench takes too long. Any NPC that isn't a zombie might as well be one, because the animations and dialogue are atrocious and there are noticeable bugs throughout. The clock makes no sense. Chuck's daughter is weirdly creepy. Discovering exactly how to find the pieces of the motorcycle is confusing. The menu screens are nonsensical. You are forced to read texts of dialogue that provide hints as to where survivors are located and where bike parts are (isn't it 2010? They couldn't record dialogue for the NPC's?), but if you do not manage to read it in the amount of time it's on screen then you are screwed. It's very easy to get lost and confused and not have any idea where things are. I bought Zombrex from the Pawn Shop, a pricey item essential to the completion of the game, but after I bought it I simply assumed it was now in my inventory because...well...that's what happens in video games. But not in Dead Rising: Case Zero. When you buy something it falls from a vent in the ceiling and lands on the floor of the pawn shop. You have to remember to pick it up to add it to your inventory or you're going to have to then re-earn all the money you just lost by banging open slop machines. Which is a giant waste of time as literally every second matters if you're trying to complete the game with an A grade. Controls are also nonsensical at times. I would grab a bin full of bike parts and not understand what I needed to do in order to push it. Finally I pressed X and it moved forward, though this didn't make sense to me at the time and B is interact with an object, and sometimes, depending on your orientation to this bin, you will pick up the bin in your arms as opposed to standing behind it for pushing. It's things like this that drive me mad. To help my fellow gamer, let me tell you that the common rule is B is interact with object or grab object, and X is use object. Also...you can pick up and carry the girl. There is a party girl you have to save from a crowd of zombies. You find her in an army tent and you have to guide her back to her friends at a bowling alley. There is nothing that indicates that you can pick this girl up. So I tried my best to keep her alive as she hobbled behind me through a series of zombies. I want to save you a lot of time and frustration and advise you to walk up to her and just press the B button. It also looks funny when you run with her in your arms.

Even with all of this...it's still completely worth your time. I haven't had this much fun just playing around in a game-world since Red Dead. That is not a comparison in any way. That is simply me saying I haven't had fun messing around with no purpose but to mess around in video game since the aforementioned masterpiece. While Case Zero is definitely contained and restricts the fun in many ways, once you play through it a few times you start to care less and less about the restrictions, about the time limit, and are permitted to focus on the more enjoyable bits of entertainment the game offers such as the achievement "Kill a 1000 Zombies". There's quite a lot to be found in this little town. For the most fun keep an eye out for "Moose Head" in the hunting shop (you have to jump from rooftop to rooftop to get inside), Claymores and shotguns (also in the hunting shot), two chainsaws, a horsey that you can ram through the guts of zombies, and a host of other fantastic little things.

Once you realize how many hilarious and brutal ways there are to kill these undead bastards you'll simply want to buy the full game. I know I will.

If you find yourself getting frustrated while trying to complete the main story, just start over (as obnoxious as that is) and try again until you get the hang of it, all the while chopping up the zombies to lighten the mood. If you have any questions on how to find where things are or the order in which tasks should be performed, just leave a comment or contact me and I'll let you know. I'm still working on a few things, but I could give a little guide that would earn someone the right ending and some brutally fantastic kills.

Can't wait for the full game!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I Am Batman

Cold night. City looks good. Cathedral in the distance. Black spear stabbing at the sky. Overcast. Grumbling. Sparks of blue lightning to the east. When will it hit? The roofs will be slick tonight. Have to be careful.

Static in my ear. Oracle.

"Batman?"

"Yes?"

"Reports of a robbery downtown. Three armed thugs. One clerk dead."

Sirens in the distance. The sounds of my city. The din of controlled chaos: feet clapping on the the pavement, wheels tearing through glistening, wet streets, honking horns, angry mouths shouting vulgarities. The silent hum of the wind, washing over my chin, gliding along the cloth of my cape. How I love to hear it snap in the breeze, turn taught in my hands as I take off over the rooftops.

"Did you hear me?"

"Yes." The city distracts me. So beautiful. So terrible.

"I'm on my way."

Rushing through the sky. Grapple gun feels good in my hands. The grinding leather of my gloves. Never let go. Never stop. Running on the rooftop now. Big jump ahead. Too big to make. But I will make it. I will make it. Make it. Hovering now, arms spread, reaching, legs coasting forward. Hit the opposite ledge. One inch from a nasty fall. One inch from a common man's death. Over the skylight. Through the pipes up ahead. Cut through the construction site, yes, that's where the sirens are headed.

Drop. Down. Down, a down, a down, and the lights and the windows pass by. Eyes closed. So much better with eyes closed. Ground is coming. Need to fire the grapple. Need to swing to safety. If only I didn't have to. If only I could be falling forever, feeling the wind rush over my face and arms. If only I could feel the smack of the pavement. My body crumbling into red mist. If only I could feel the world stop without having to die.

Open my arms. The cape spreads, cradles the descent, fire the gun, swing to safety. Pedestrian on the sidewalk screams when they see me. Fear. Good. Smile at the fear.

There they are. Cops curving down an intersection, sirens wailing. Their sirens are a cry for help. They cannot fix this world. I can.

"Be careful, Batman."

Oracle. Barbara. Your voice. Will always love it. Always need - - -

The car. A red car. Thugs shooting from the windows. Too easy.

Swing above. They will not see me.

The roof is weak. Boots almost crash through. The driver jerks the car to the right. Up on the sidewalk. Stop this now.

Batarang. Slide to the side, hurl the blade into the front, right tire. The car lifts into the air, tipping over. Leap off, fire gun. Get away. On a ledge now, smiling in my mind. I feel my teeth smile. The car skids harmlessly into a newstand. A fire hydrant bursts. Papers and water, trickling down on the vermin. The cops pull up next to the car. Drag them out, cuff them, read rights. What rights do they have? The cops look up at me. Is that envy in their eyes?

Gone. Up to the rooftops where I belong.

"Nice work."

"Thank you. What's next?"

"Crime Alley. As usual."

"As usual."

Back to where it began. This is a good night.