When I first heard the news that Capcom would be releasing Dead Rising 2's Case Zero for a price of 400 MS Points ($5 bucks) I was slightly disappointed, until I discovered what all it had to offer. Achievements (12 in total), unlockable fighting moves, health upgrades, and money that all transfer over to the full game. I finally accepted that it may be content worth paying for, but still remained leery since Capcom is known for finding small ways to garner more money from it's loyal fans, i.e. charging for alternative costumes in Super Street Fighter 4 and paying to unlock versus mode in Resident Evil 5. So this is my venture to find out is Dead Rising 2: Case Zero really worth the price or if I would have been better off just buying myself a sandwich for lunch.
So whats new in Dead Rising 2? Well, the first thing I noticed is that this sequel (or epilogue) actually has text that is readable and doesn't require a high definition television or magnifying glass in order to read. That's right, Case Zero isn't plagued by the same small text issue as it's predecessor, also found in other games such as GTA: IV and Red Dead Redemption, that left of us non Hi-Def TV owners squinting our eyes and guessing what the game wanted. Another notable feature is that since you're fighting time on top of battling zombies, Dead Rising 2's protagonist has a digital watch instead of analog. I don't know about anyone else but this small change was a major help for me in the race against the in-game clock.
The major difference and selling point for Dead Rising 2 is the weapon combination system, which basically allows you to combine one simple weapon with another to create a super weapon. As soon as the game starts, your character Chuck is placed in front of a work bench with a baseball bat and a box of nails placed on the ground besides him. You fuse them together to create a club with nails in it, effectively doubling the destructive force. Some weapon combinations aren't as predictable as the bat and nails, such as combining a lawn rake with a car battery to create an electric rake. Luckily, you're not completely on your own to guess which weapons mix well together. Their are combo cards in the game that are periodically given to you in order to assist you with the more complex weapon fusions.
In the first Dead Rising, as a journalist Frank had to take pictures to provide evidence of the origin of the zombie outbreak and also had to refill his camera's batteries. This time around Chuck Greene has to provide his infected daughter with doses of Zombrex every twelve hours to prevent his daughter from turning into a zombie. Sounds simple right? Unfortunately it's not. Chuck's daughter isn't the only person trapped in this situation so the Zobrex suppressant is rare, which forces Chuck to perilously trudge through dangerous scenarios or pay exorbitant prices for the medication. On top of that, Chuck also has to be sure not to give her more than one dose within the allotted time, or provide it too late, because either will could result in his daughters demise. Although I do consider this a chore, nearly dying for medicine adds much more intensity than Dead Rising's action stopping camera mechanic.
Case Zero still doesn't include any official check points. Your save game slots acts as a check point, which means if you forget to save, once you die you're forced back to the last point you saved your game. Many call this a measured decision in the design of the game, but I still believe it to be a flaw.
Ultimately, I couldn't really jump over the fact that I paid five bucks for what is still essentially a demo. When you pay for a game the general understanding is that you will keep it for a long period of time, but this will be deleted off of my 360 hard drive in less than month, as soon as the full game releases. Furthermore what if you choose not to buy the full game? That would mean that you just passed up on Case Zero's main selling point of transferring your progress, which at that point honestly would be a waste of five dollars. I can't help but feel that this should have been a pre-order bonus, instead of a separate purchase alltogether.
So in the end does Case Zero demo/epilogue succeed in it's job of making me want to purchase the full game? Definitely. The original Dead Rising's core problems, such as virtually non-readable text, slightly clunky combat, and halting game-play to take pictures, seem to have all been resolved. Of course, experiencing everything that the game has to offer (in terms of level ups, weapons, and achievements) will require multiple playthroughs, but that isn't necessarily a problem. The story line alone is only about an hour long of enjoyable zombie slaughtering fun. Although I am still perplexed as to why this costs any money at all, it was an enjoyable experience all things considered.
The full release for Dead Rising 2 is set for September 28th on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, but you can pick up Case Zero right now exclusively for the Xbox 360 for 400 MSP ($5).