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Dead Rising 2: Case West drops the hyperbole as it dials in on the story's darker side. But without the clowning around and lampoonery it loses itself between earnestness and debauchery.
Dead Rising 2: Case West continues the story of Chuck Greene and Frank West from the original Dead Rising. They set out to uncover about uncover the truth about the production of the zombie infection-inhibiting drug Zombrex. But along the way it loses a bit of its soul, and slightly misses the mark thematically.
Capcom have taken a strange route with their recent downloadable Dead Rising titles. Both of the Case Files expand on the core Dead Rising 2 story while remaining stand alone, with no need to own the main game. Case West works with the earlier title Case Zero to bookend the main story of Dead Rising 2.
In many ways this new chapter could be considered the conclusion of the story as it stands, following up on the unresolved evil corporation narrative of the main game.
the irreverent humour of the series sits uncomfortably against the more worthy backdrop.
Much remains unchanged in Case West. Zombie killing is enjoyable and new weapons, and combinations thereof, provide creative ways to intensify the slaughter. However, the irreverent humour of the series sits uncomfortably against the more worthy backdrop of this final chapter.
Dead Rising has always walked a fine line between serious politics, family issues and farcical killing . Running around a small American town, wearing a waitresses uniform trying to lead an alcoholic to safety remains the right side of ridiculous. Case West teeters towards too much solemnity though and threatens to collapse the house of cards under the weight of its subject matter.
I remember the initial announcement of the main Dead Rising 2 game, and my worries about the shift in development form the in house Japanese studio at Capcom to the Canadian based Blue Castle Games. Concerns about how the slightly off-kilter view of American culture wouldn't work when viewed through a more comprehending lens.
Happily, Blue Castle quickly silenced my fears, creating a game as outlandish as anything the original Japanese title could manage. Case West however seems to have made everything a bit too sensible.
Things get political and grave very quickly. This robs the series of what sets it apart and makes it special - that knowing humour. Normally the first thing I would do in a Dead Rising game would be to find the best pair of spats and the largest hat available. But in Case West everything feels functional. Clothes are limited to the most mundane and practical sweat suits and security gear, and while weapons remain odd the truly bizarre ones feel out of place.
The usual incongruous blend of the serious and the crazy is nowhere to be found.
The usual incongruous blend of the serious and the crazy is nowhere to be found. Instead we have two men acting like lunatics in a serious situation, clothing themselves in what ever random items they find and making beer helmets to regenerate health as they massacre hundred of zombies.
The problem is that these are serious topics. Pharmaceutical giants controlling the release of medicine for profit is a real world concern and (even with the undead in the background) there is much of Dead Rising Case West that addresses this. The gray box rooms of the factory, the security guards, the doctors all speak to the serious nature of the place, while all the time Frank and Chuck actions seem out of place.
Sure, it's not helped by my choice in clothing and slapstick weaponary, but Dead Rising is not a game where I am used to maintaining the fiction. It's not just me though, the game mechanics frequently incentivise the more comical weapons and create an environment encourages me to humiliate the fiction of the game.
Case West feels detached and mishandled.
Beyond these concerns Dead Rising Case West is a fair conclusion to Dead Rising 2 and introduces simultaneous multiplayer that works well with the story. But I could never quite escape the alien feeling that the vacuum of seriousness created, when I expected to be hooning my way through the streets, tongue firmly in cheek.
I could stomach the self-important conclusion to each of the previous titles because of the context of their larger story. However, Case West feels detached and mishandled by a poor mesh of mechanics and meaningful topics.
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