Dead Rising 2 Impressions

Capcom's zombie hackfest returns with an all-new setting and protagonist. Find out if Chuck Greene is up to the task in our first look at Dead Rising 2.

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Capcom's Captivate 09 event featured a slew of games, but the highlight of the show was undoubtedly Dead Rising 2. The original game was one of the Xbox 360's early standouts and a knowing homage to American zombie movies, and it's hard to believe that the game is now almost three years old. Capcom R&D head and Dead Rising 2 producer Keiji Inafune has entrusted development of the sequel to Canadian studio Blue Castle Games, which was on hand at Captivate 09 to walk us through the game.

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Dan Brady, CEO and general manager of Blue Castle, gave us a tech demo that offered highlights of a few key features that will be in the sequel. Like in the game's predecessor, anything and everything can be used as a weapon, but the team is keen to up the ante with even more zombies and new weapons. Brady talked about maintaining the constant feeling of dread and being "out of your element."

Dead Rising 2 introduces you to a brand-new location, the Vegas-like Fortune City, and a new hero, motocross champion Chuck Greene. The demo that we saw started out on a street where 1,000 zombies were enjoying a night out on the town, and moved into a small gaming lounge filled with rows of slot machines, card tables, and undead patrons. Taking control of Chuck, Brady picked up a baseball bat and begun laying into some hapless undead. Chuck will have plenty more weapons at his disposal, and we saw him taking hold of an electric guitar, machine gun, chair, roulette wheel, and even a slot machine.

Ka-ching!
Ka-ching!

If that's not enough, you'll be able to don a moose head and use it to head-butt, sweep, and charge through zombies, which seems to be as much fun as it sounds. Another makeshift weapon is the aptly named "drill bucket": a bucket with three power drills attached to it that face inward, making light work of anyone unfortunate enough to be wearing it. Meanwhile, the "paddle saw" is essentially a mop with a chainsaw affixed to each end. You can also attach these to the handlebars of a dirt bike and use it to dispense with the crowds milling around outside the casinos. Driving at full speed through the zombie-filled street resulted in complete mayhem, with bodies flying and splattering in every which way to amusing effect. Inafune hinted that some weapons, such as the drill bucket, may need to be constructed rather than acquired as is. Another weapon that can unleash plenty of satisfying carnage is the katana blade. Dead Rising 2 features plenty of dismemberment, and you can slice and dice heads, limbs, and even bodies in half.

Dead Rising relied on Capcom's internal MT Framework engine, but Dead Rising 2 uses a completely separate engine developed by Blue Castle. The first instalment was capable of drawing 500 zombies at once, but the sequel is able to draw up to 7,000 zombies onscreen at once, all staggering, leering, and drooling in real time. The graphics look promising, with plenty of crisp textures and vibrant colours lighting up the neon-filled town. Although blood pools left behind by your hapless victims looked a bit unrealistic, other effects such as water reflections on asphalt and body dismemberment looked great.

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Capcom has yet to reveal a release date for Dead Rising 2, but expect to see it heading to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in the near future. For more on the zombiefest, watch the just-released announcement trailer and read our review of the original.

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