|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Blue Castle Games|
|Release: December 27, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mature for blood and gore, intense violence, language, and sexual themes|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Although Dead Rising 2 came out last fall, when I started playing Case West, it felt like it had been forever since I had mindlessly hacked zombies to undeath with Chuck Greene. I have to disclose that Dead Rising has quickly become one of my favorite franchises, and I was more than thrilled to get back to Fortune City to hack and slash my way through more zombies. However, as the name implies, you'll be getting a double-dose of nostalgia with this title, as the protagonist from the first Dead Rising is returning to help Chuck Greene clear his name.
The game starts simply, with West helping Greene out of the tough spot seen in the "A" ending of Dead Rising (The "S" ending is non-canon). After Greene recovers from his close call, he agrees to help West track down an unnamed source in lieu of the buxom Rebecca Chang (who was originally supposed to help West, but didn't show up for reasons obvious to those who finished Dead Rising 2). The game's story serves as an epilogue to the events of Dead Rising 2, and while the game is short on huge revelations, the relationship between West and Greene is really what makes the game. There is plenty of dialogue between the two main characters, and some really priceless moments that are so cheesy and over-the-top they just beg to be loved unconditionally. If you like fun and humorous situations, you'll likely be pleased with the events of Case West, but if you are looking for substantial plot points, I'm afraid there's not much of that in Case West. Sure, there's some nice denouement for those looking for some closure or a little more information on the villainous corporation behind the events of Dead Rising 2, but you won't get much of an arc like that which was presented in previous titles.
Though the story itself is a bit of a yawner, the gameplay is anything but. The game's format remains the same as it ever was: complete timed story missions, kill zombies, and create fun weapons. The game's difficulty level is on par with Dead Rising 2, but I did find that certain aspects, such as finding materials for specialty weapons (the good kind) and using larger weapons felt a little bit easier this time around. Of course, these improvements could be due in large part to the game's smaller setting (the medical facility is tiny compared to the giant mall in Dead Rising 2), but the ramped-up production of weapons for the two heroes that resulted sure felt like a perk to me.
And speaking of our dual heroes, it has to be said that the best way to experience Case West is with a friend. Whether you play local or online co-op, the game's reliance on the two player mechanic is obvious from the get-go. In fact, if you want to play as Frank West, the only way to do so is if you play co-op, as the default single-player character is Chuck Greene. Of course, if you do plan to experience the game solo, know this: Frank West is invincible. Though the game encourages you to give West health items and weapons, you really don't have to. As long as he has a crowbar, West will wail on the zombie horde and never die. Just following in his wake during certain areas was enough to get me out of harm's way unscathed, and though I initially felt bad about using Dead Rising's protagonist as a human shield, it ended up being quite the winning strategy.
The only real complaint I have about Case West is it is a little bit on the light side. For 800 points, I was expecting something more in the four to five hour range, and instead got a game that barely hits the three-hour mark. The game also doesn't feature any real extras, so unless you want to go for a speed run or take pictures of stickers (the picture mechanic from the original Dead Rising returns here, but your only objective is to take pictures of stickers, not zombies, which is kind of lame) you won't find much to do in the game once you have completed the story mode. There also aren't as many side missions to complete this time around. To its credit, Case West makes the side missions a bit more difficult to find, but they are so sparse (and relatively uncomplicated) that you won't have to worry about time management the same way you did in Dead Rising 2.
The one thing that Dead Rising 2: Case West does have in spades is new weaponry. If you were a big fan of the weapon creation element of Dead Rising 2, you'll be happy to learn that there are plenty of new weapons and materials in Case West, and there is no shortage of maintenance rooms there for your weaponry creation ease. Though the game starts you off rather small with grenades strapped to a football, the weapons get much bigger and crazier from there, and while not all of them are entirely practical, trying out each of the created weapons certainly provides for a fun diversion in between story missions.
Still, if you don't mind plunking down the $10 (or 800 Microsoft Points, for those keeping track) on Case West, it is a nice excursion back into the world of both Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2. The game is light on relevant plot points, but as an epilogue to Dead Rising 2, the game works well. The zombie-hacking mechanics are just as fun here as they ever were, and you'll have plenty of fun creating even more new weapons in Case West's new environment. As long as you don't expect a lengthy gameplay experience, Dead Rising 2: Case West will certainly please fans of both Dead Rising games, and has enough zombie-hacking fun to make any chilly winter's afternoon a little more...gory.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer