Combo weapons are new, too, and they're something of a mixed blessing, really. Built by combining two ordinary items - nails and a baseball bat make a nasty spiked bashing stick, drills and a bucket become something pleasantly indescribable - they allow you to level your character up faster if you use them and are generally a little flashier to mess around with.
They're brilliant fun to put together - some of the recipes are ghoulishly inventive - but while they've been given fairly short life spans to ensure that you still have reasons to pick up ordinary weapons as you head around Still Creek, anybody hungry to gain real experience boosts is going to want to use them pretty much exclusively, and that means greedy players will find themselves braving the loading screens and nipping back to the safe house every five minutes to construct another one. That's kind of annoying.
Otherwise, the core of the game revolves around ferreting out bike parts while you rescue citizens and mash the undead. Still Creek's small but intricate, and there are plenty of secrets to uncover and locked rooms to open as you piece your ride back together. Being a Dead Rising title, Case Zero is more in need of an inventory than a review, really. If you want to hit people over the head with cacti, wrenches, serving trays, gumball machines, 2x4s or a good old bench, you're going to be pretty happy.
Movement is still fairly clumsy, attacks are sluggish, weak animation is hidden behind bright splashes of claret, and a particularly awful moment where I had to steer an epileptic trolley with a motorbike frame in it through oncoming masses was so deeply frustrating I actually bit off a sizable chunk of my own couch, but there's still some resilient nugget of mindless fun at the centre of Dead Rising that means that none of this matters quite as much as it should.
It's something to do with the glacial pace of your levelling, and the mindless toil that makes up your itinerary. Capcom's judicious use of brutal, spirit-shredding monotony is not something I'd want too many other developers to rely on, but in the demented shopping spree that brings life to Willamette Mall and Still Creek, it works better than it should.
Chalk this up as another paradoxically satisfying botch, then. Despite a dozen little annoyances, despite that sluggish pace and some dated visuals, Case Zero remains a lazy pleasure to plod through as you divide your time between story missions and a therapeutic culling of the masses. The question now, then, is whether Dead Rising's shonky white trash charms can stretch to encompass another full-length game.
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is available to download now, exclusively on Xbox Live, and costs 400 Microsoft Points.