Since being a regular contributor to Game Focus for the last two years, I haven't really bothered to post any full-reviews here since you can find my writing there. With my EIC having already reviewed this game, I wanted to post my thoughts on the game as well.
When the first Dead Rising was released a few years back, it was well received thanks in part to his simple concept and interesting ideas. Your goal was simple, survive the next 72 hours trapped inside a large shopping mall with hordes of zombies. You could play the game in a number of different ways, including trying to rescue everyone else trapped inside or simply fending for yourself. Another novel concept was the idea of letting you fail to improve. With that concept, even if you died and re-started the game, your progress held through and your character was stronger the next time you played. While that part of the game was nice, it was also viewed as frustrating since it more or less forced the gamer to play through a few times in order to complete the game successfully.
With the follow-up just around the corner, Capcom along with Vancouver developers Blue Castle Games have released a prequel entitled Dead Rising 2: Case Zero which follows motocross superstar Chuck Greene and his daughter Katey a few years before the events of of Dead Rising 2. This 400 point (5 USD) title might be viewed by some as nothing more than a paid-demo, but for the price, you're getting quite a bit of content and will ultimately determine if you pick up DR2.
The plot behind Case Zero is fairly straightforward, Chuck's daughter has been infected with the zombie disease and they have escaped Las Vegas in the hopes of finding safety and maybe even a cue. Along the way, they stop off in a small town and Chuck's truck is stolen from him along with their supply of Zombrex, the Zombie suppressive that prevents the disease from spreading and taking over. With that, Chuck now needs to find additional doses and a way out of the town before the infestation takes over Katey and the military reaches the town.
You have until to do both. The first part of the game requires you to find more Zombrex while the second part is finding parts to a bike in order to get out of the town before the Military arrives. As with the first Dead Rising, you can play Case Zero a number of different ways. You can simply waste the time and kill zombies, let your daughter die and go on with your life, yo u can try to get the parts necessary to build your bike amongst other things. The choice is yours.
Of course, they want you to save your daughter and get out alive and doing so will require you to search the town looking for the five necessary bike pieces that you need. Some are in plain sight while a few require working with others in the town to obtain. In the same manner, chances are, you won't be able to do everything your first time around and will have to play through a second time in order to achieve the game's better ending. Thankfully, the game's length is short enough that you can still accomplish this in one evening.
The combat and action in Case Zero is nearly identical to Dead Rising, you can use just about anything in the environment in order to defeat zombies. A nice addition for Dead Rising 2 will be the ability to combine weapons in order to create something new. Not every object has this ability, but there are plenty that can be and the game rewards you for your creations. Being able to preview this system is nice and most will look forward to what can be done in he main game.
It's hard to tell what changes or differences we can expect from this once we play Dead Rising 2. The fact that Chuck can't run does make moving in the town quite difficult. It may be a small area but there are a few objectives that require moving from one section to another and his inability to move at a faster pace hurts the pacing. It makes sense for him to move slowly while carrying a large object, but when he's nothing nothing, he should be able to rush through an area.
More or less, if you enjoyed Dead Rising, you will like what is offered here and will enjoy this set-up to the main game. On the other hand, if you didn't have fun playing Dead Rising, then the likelihood of this changing your opinion. If you've been on the fence, the small price tag for this will help make your decision. If you enjoy it, you'll be glad that your character stats get carried over into the main game. If you don't, at least you only paid a minimal fee to try it out and will save yourself 60 dollars.