Dead Rising 2s playable prologue, Case Zero, was released at the end of August for 400 Microsoft Points, selling half a million copies by the end of September. Just four months later, its epilogue, Case West, arrives exclusively on 360 for double that cost. Austerity be damned: thats the price of progress, folks.
Im only half-joking because, while at roughly three hours for a single playthrough, Case West may only be the same size as Zero, its also a step forward for the series; an add-on whose improvements to the zombie-splatting formula might well have bumped up its predecessors Metacritic rating a few notches.
It starts with a surprise at least for those who got the best ending for Dead Rising 2, as evidently Capcom is treating that games Ending A (rather than the proper Overtime denouement) as canon. Professional Thomas Jane impersonator Chuck Greene is rescued from a future of moaning, shuffling and unusually protein-heavy dietary requirements by original protagonist Frank West, and the two set out to infiltrate a facility belonging to evil pharmaceutical nutjobs Umbrell- sorry, Phenotrans.
Naturally, the factory setting isnt as visually interesting as the dilapidated Americana of Case Zeros Still Creek, but its more fun to explore, not least because of the new weapons youll find lying around. The sickle makes a welcome reappearance after its conspicuous absence from the second game, and its just one of several new ingredients which Chuck can use to build a handful of fresh combo weapons. Dead Risings combat system may seem inelegant at times, but when one swing of a deadly sickle/katana combo leaves an average of 12 bloody body parts scattered around your feet, you wont really care. And thats before we get onto Chucks constructive (if medically inadvisable) use of a set of defibrillators and a metal tray.
Despite being made available as a standalone release rather than DLC, Case Wests story wont necessarily mean much to anyone who hasnt played the previous games. Case Zeros plot worked as a self-contained story as well as an intriguing lead-in to the events of Dead Rising 2, but here the significance of certain revelations one in particular requires a bit of foreknowledge. If you missed the first game, a quick Wiki flick is recommended.
That said, theres some nice interplay between Chuck and Frank after their initial uneasy alliance. Again, the barmy plot is played totally straight-faced, which makes it all the more enjoyable to subvert. Chuck shaking his head at a particularly inept bluff from Frank is much funnier when one of our less-than-dynamic duo is wearing a shower cap and the other a mad scientists hairdo.
As an AI partner, Franks almost a little too handy in the fight, steaming into kills with relish and providing more than ample backup when youre surrounded. Give him a half-decent weapon at the start and hes set for the rest of the game. Franks return also means a return to the photography element of the original, though its a little undercooked here, used purely to earn bonus Prestige Points by snapping special areas or objects within the facility.