Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the early sections of Dead Rising 2 underline Chuck's status as a guy who's picked on. He's abused by the staff of Terror is Reality, and when everything kicks off and he and his daughter head to the casino's emergency shelter, the overseer seems to treat him with distrust. When a news broadcast fingers our hero as the prime suspect for the bombing, it makes perfect sense in terms of the overall plot. Chuck Greene is a classic underdog, abused by all and sundry, and that makes him easy to like as a character.
Like its predecessor, Dead Rising 2 works on a real-time basis, set against the backdrop of an accelerated clock. To uncover the truth behind what's going on Chuck will have to be in the right place at the right time. You can look at your watch to check the time, and a series of on-screen prompts will always be around to guide you to your objective, but the fact remains that it's easy to permanently lose the central plot thread if you're not careful. This may annoy some people, particularly newcomers to the franchise, but everything you do in the game helps to level up Chuck – boosting his health, dispensing special moves and allowing him to carry more stuff. If you abandon or fail the story there's still an entire casino resort to explore, packed with things to do. When you eventually decide to restart the game you'll do so with a levelled-up hero, making things much easier.
This is the weird thing about the Dead Rising: it's always at its hardest when you're new to the game. This sequel graciously allows you three save slots (we only got one last time), but since you can only save at set locations, it's easy to come a cropper. It's a hard game and it requires patience, but it's very rewarding when you put the effort in. That's the Capcom way.
And while Chuck himself may be having a miserable time, the game actively encourages players to have as much fun as possible. The early plot missions find Chuck desperately searching for Zombex, tracking down the reporter who's slandering him and then working to clear his name – but I've not gotten very far into the story, because I keep getting distracted. My daughter died the first time I played the game because I'd spent too much time pissing about: I dressed Chuck in a gaudy suit and deerstalker, put on a pair of massive boxing gloves, and then ran about punching zombies in the face (complete with a comedy 'DING!'). I went skateboarding, fell off and had my neck bitten. I put a zombie in a wheelchair, pushed him to the top of an escalator, and then pushed him over the edge.
In short, I had a right old laugh. As I say, the game does feel extremely close to its forebear – even down to the fact that much of Fortune City looks like the Willamette Mall – but I really can't complain too much about that. The game may break into newer ground later on, and even if it doesn't there's the promise of multiplayer and co-op play.
If any of this is taking your fancy, and if you own an Xbox 360, it may well be worth taking a look at Dead Rising: Case Zero, a standalone DLC pack that's due for release next week with a price of 400 MS points. It's a precursor to the events of Dead Rising 2, one that uses the same engine as the main game, and any progress you make there will be carried over to the sequel. We should be taking a look at this ourselves, so stay tuned for more thoughts.
Dead Rising 2 is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on September 24.