Moral Quandaries and Dead Rising 2
I’m not finished with Dead Rising 2 yet, but I think I’ve played enough (possibly halfway through the story) to write about Dead Rising 2. I purchased it for the PS3 with the intent of killing some time and some brain cells mindlessly beating the stuffing out of zombies. Instead, I ended up thinking deeply about certain aspects of the game that struck me personally.
If you’re wondering what the story is in Dead Rising 2, it’s like this: Chuck Greene and his daughter Katey came to Fortune City, Nevada as part of a zombie-slaying reality game show called Terror is Reality. During their stay in Fortune City, someone released the zombies out into the wild, infecting the general populace and making a mess out of just about everything save for the Safe House that Chuck, Katey and a host of other survivors managed to find. Sadly, Chuck’s been falsely accused of releasing the zombies, so he has to clear his name in three days before a pickup arrives and arrests him.
There’s a second wrinkle to this story though: Katey was bitten by her mother during a previous outbreak of zombification. The reason they’re in Fortune City is because Terror is Reality pays Chuck enough to purchase Zombrex, an zombification inhibitor drug, for his daughter. With the city gone to hell and his name tarnished, Chuck Greene has to scour Fortune City, not only for clues to who framed him, but also for Zombrex to keep his daughter from turning undead.
The gameplay itself doesn’t feel terribly deep (mash the B button with an equipped weapon to kill zombies or punch them, rescue survivors, create custom weapons to do more damage to zombies, level up, and repeat process with a new weapon.), but there are certain aspects to the gameplay that, when coupled with the story, make it very difficult to put down.
First, there is the time management aspect of the game. Every moment not spent on pause is time ticking away on the main quests and storyline of the game. To add a wrinkle in the process, one of the main characters sends you information on things happening in the city, and you can choose to aid people or not when this information is given up till a certain time. If it’s your initial set of playthroughs, you probably won’t have the strength to do everything or the firepower to cut through swathes of enemies, sadly. In other words, you cannot save everyone.
In my case, I went to an area knowing that there was a non-storyline boss character there, and I didn’t have the strength to defeat it. So upon reloading a save, I had to choose between using my time more wisely and saving other people or focusing on beating that one enemy to get to the person trapped by the bad guy. Reluctantly, and with much regret, I chose to let someone die.
Related to this is general scarcity of Zombrex. To find Zombrex, you must acquire it in the city through exploration, buy it from looters who’ve set up shop, or earn it from rescued survivors or slain enemies. Now, finding enough Zombrex for Katey is hard enough, but some survivor quests actually pose to you a survivor who’s been bitten by a zombie. The question is: do you give the Zombrex you’ve saved for that single survivor, or do you leave him be?
During my playthrough I encountered this once, and chose to give the only piece of Zombrex I had to the survivor. After escorting him to the Safe House, I basically had to worry about where I could get another one for my daughter. Luckily, one of the looter shops was selling Zombrex for the ridiculous price of $25,000 (with the next dose of Zombrex from him requiring $50,000, bloody pushers). With an only a small fraction of time left before Katey needed her Zombrex injection, I bought the meds, ran as fast as I could back to Katey, and got her the Zombrex shot in time.
Lastly, one aspect of the game that really hits the sadness lever on my heart are the psychopaths. Psychopaths are a blanket term gamers have used for the minibosses that appear in the Dead Rising series. There are many heart-wrenching stories of people who’ve been pushed over the edge by the zombie outbreak, from the chef turned cannibal cook to the roller-skating guy in a mascot costume who lost his mascot’s significant other. Their stories are all caused by the outbreak and while they may have been unhinged prior to the release of the zombies, the outbreak becomes the final straw that breaks their minds.
The one some of them blame? Chuck Greene, sadly.
I want to keep playing this game just so I can find out the reason behind why Fortune City became a hellhole, as well as keep Chuck’s daughter from turning into a zombie. While I do not know if Chuck can keep getting Zombrex for his daughter after the course of the game’s events, seeing him fight to keep her alive makes this game quite worth it.