In Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, Capcom gave punters a tasty entrée before they zom nom nomed their way through Dead Rising 2, and now bookend it nicely with a succulent dessert for two with Dead Rising 2: Case West. Taking place directly after events reached their climax in Fortune City, a chance meeting of the franchise’s two protagonists (Frank West and Chuck Greene) leads to an uneasy alliance. It’s a team up of titanic proportions and quite possibly the finest incarnation of Dead Rising to-date.
After a bit of fast-talking by Chuck to convince Frank he is, in fact, not
the herald of the zombie apocalypse, West reveals a tip about a nearby Phenotran (the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Zombrex) facility, and the dynamic duo set off to investigate. It’s quite a neat concept, waiting for juicy nuggets of information from your source marking the main missions. By setting the two up against the clock in a sealed facility, it feels completely different to the open-air areas of Still Creek in DR2: Case Zero and is one of several subtle differences.
In perhaps the greatest move of the franchise’s history, all survivors are Phenotran employees already familiar with the structure’s layout, thus…wait for it… eliminating the need for those pesky (read: frustrating to the point of insanity) escort missions. Simply complete whatever task they require and they’ll mosey off on their merry way. Bueno! This slight modification lets you get on with the killing and means less time yelling at the screen; shaking your head in disbelief as some tosser you’ve just saved becomes an all-you-can-eat zombie buffet.
The infected aren’t your only threat either; though they can be a handful as they increase in frequency and have a tendency to swarm. Various types of Security Guards and Zombie Handlers also police the facility, each with appropriate weaponry. This translates to a lot more Security AR Rifles, Riot Shield (and naptime stick) combos and the glorious Electric Prod. These guys operate as a kind of mini-boss, with the more heavy-duty Hazard Units appearing later on packing Impact Hammers.
While DR2: Case Zero had you constantly clock-watching and juggling multiple tasks, I never really felt noticeable pressure to get the job done in DR2: Case West. Maybe it’s because I hit it up in co-op with fellow contributor Nachos Justice, but even in the single-player the balance between tackling missions and initiating your very own zombie pacification program, finally felt just right.
Maintenance Rooms are your best friend and gateway to jury-rigging heaven. A smidge of duct tape and you’ll be MacGyvering with the best of them. Worthy of note were the Reaper (Katana + Sickle) - very handy against them Hazard dudes, the ever popular Force powered Laser Sword (Gems + Flashlight), the devastating Plate Launcher (Plates + Cement saw) that cuts through hordes like butter, the Zap N’ Shine (Floor Buffer and Electric Prod) for crowd control and my personal favourite, the Lightning Gun.
Combining the Blast Frequency Gun (a piss-weak shooter affectionately known as the “Pew Pew” gun) and an Electric Prod gives you the deadly Lightning Gun, and stage one is now complete. If you really want to take it up a notch, initiate stage two and whack together the Laser Sword and Lightning Gun to arm yourself with what’s officially known as the “everything is now your bitch” Laser Gun. This magnificent beast one-hit kills Security and Zombie Handlers alike, and makes anything big and scary run crying home to mama with a full diaper.
Most long-standing irritations of the series persist with the constant annoyance of rest room saves, long load times between sections and mincing about like you’re wading through jelly, though you’ll brush these concerns aside in the grand scheme of things. The slight tweaks and addictive co-op made it a hoot and a half (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a semi-serious cut scene with both Chuck and Frank in hairnets, hearted boxers and open hospital gowns) from the first decapitation to the explosive finale and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it for another spin.