(Warning:- Dead Rising 2: Case West continues directly on from the end of Dead Rising 2. While every effort has been taken to minimise spoilers, it’s inevitable that this review will contain some slight ones. If you haven’t played and completed the full retail release – you have been warned!)
After sizeable success with Case Zero, the XBLA exclusive prequel to Dead Rising 2, Capcom have now released another XBLA title based on the series. This time Case West is a sequel, picking up after the events of the first game. Well, sort of.
In time honoured tradition of Capcom titles having multiple endings, Case West continues after ending `A` of Dead Rising 2. Which is a little odd considering there was also the `S-rank` ending, obtained by completing the additional Overtime mode, and most likely candidate for how they wanted things to finish. It’ll be highly confusing to those people who might have missed ending `A` (and that wasn’t too difficult to do) but it’s easy to forgive this continuity jiggery-pokery seeing as both endings were pretty rubbish and more than a little unsatisfying.
The opening of Case West sees Chuck Green, the man framed for the zombie outbreak in Fortune City, fighting for his life against a certain zombified boss character. Just as things look to be hopeless, he’s saved by the protagonist from the original game, Frank West (he’s covered wars y’know). Everyone’s favourite photojournalist has survived all this time and is looking to expose the Phenotrans Corporation responsible for the outbreaks. Teaming up with Chuck, who is still looking to clear his name, the two of them infiltrate a facility just outside of Fortune City in a bid to blow the companies nefarious operations wide open.
The game takes place inside this facility and differs slightly from Case Zero as it introduces co-op. Incorporated from the main game of Dead Rising 2, this feature now allows two players to tackle this instalment together. Even if the player doesn’t have a friend to accompany them, Frank is a constant companion during the game but thankfully, unlike the survivors, he’s more than capable of looking after himself and won’t need babysitting. What’s disappointing is that, given the fan-base that Frank still holds, you can’t actually play as him unless you’re doing so co-operatively. Not that there’s any difference in playing either character, but it would have been nice to give the player the option and fans of Frank will doubtless be irked by this sizable oversight.
His reappearance also brings back the photography mechanic from the first game, awarding the player with Prestige Points to level up by taking snaps of important items as the two race to gather evidence. What’s interesting is that the game actually starts the player off at level 40, regardless of whether they’ve played any of the previous outings before. This means the player’s character is pretty capable from the start, in a way that was missing from Case Zero.
Case West is essentially the same game as Case Zero and Dead Rising 2, so there isn’t much more to expand on in terms of talking about the gameplay (although the time spent on loading screens does seem to have been tightened up a little). It’s still a case of exploring the area and completing the cases within the time limits to progress the story, while finding new ways to smash through the zombies. There are some new items found in the game which weren’t in the others, along with new combo cards and outfits.
It’s undeniable that there’s still some fun to be had from mashing a zombie in the face with a 2×4, or jamming a pair of surgical scissors through its head, but here the action feels more gun orientated, with a heavy emphasis on taking on the automatic rifle totting Phenotrans employees. This is something which is pretty difficult if you aren’t packing heat yourself and sadly all of these enemies seem to be bullet sponges. While they are wearing armour, it isn’t possible to carry out headshots or target exposed areas, which means taking on multiple gun wielding enemies isn’t much fun or as satisfying as it should be. To be fair this is a hangover from the main Dead Rising 2 game, but it’s odd that they chose to focus on this aspect so heavily given that, although it was improved from the original, it still wasn’t the best mechanic.
What’s most baffling about Case West is that it’s actually an XBLA game in the first place. If Case Zero felt like a paid for demo (and it did to this reviewer) then Case West has the air of being DLC about it from the minute it starts. Okay, especially because of the way it starts by following on from the ‘A’ ending of the main game.
Anyone who played through Dead Rising 2 probably spent the whole time waiting for Frank to turn up and his arrival here, particularly the way it’s handled, ultimately makes it all feel like something that was cut from the main retail release. Perhaps this is why Dead Rising 2 had you running back and forth the same areas when the game world seemed so much larger, with more potential than was actually realised. Or perhaps it was this removal which left most of the cases in the main game feeling like little more than padding. Could it even be that Blue Castle Games had originally intended for the story in Case West to be the actual Overtime story in Dead Rising 2, but then removed it at the last minute? Only they will know for sure (and they’ll almost certainly never tell if it was…) but Case West does very little to dissuade this reviewer otherwise.
Currently priced at 800 Points, as opposed to Case Zero’s 400, there’s a little bit more content to Case West to try and justify that price increase. It’s debatable if the option of co-op warrants the extra cost, but the game does take place over a slightly longer time period, even if some of these missions once again feel a little bit like padding. Those wanting to eek out extra value will find that the game once again supports multiple playthroughts.
All the question marks around its existence don’t necessarily mean that Case West is a bad game, after all it’s more of the same, it suffers a hangover from being so closely tied to an ending of a retail release. Let alone an ending which was entirely missable. The end result is something that feels somewhat disjointed as an XBLA release.
Dead Rising fans who haven’t had their fill yet will certainly love Case West. In fact the reappearance of Frank (albeit looking like a podgy Dan Aykroyd these days) will be enough to get most people to part with their cash, even if they’d felt like they’d had enough by the end of playing number two. Although those who have truly had their fill, or were less than impressed, should be warned – Case West will do little to reinvigorate the series for you.