I’ve started Dead Rising 2 over twice now and am currently playing through the opening story bits for a third time, wondering why I’m doing this to myself. Certainly not because I love the sound zombies make when you bop them on the head with a spiked bat. The problem is that I keep running into boss fights that are wiping the floor with me, and I’m unsure if it is due to my lackluster fighting skills or if Chuck Greene is not high enough in levels–which increases health, inventory slots, speed, damage, and so on–to deal with these psychopaths. The latest progression roadblock happens in Case 4 involving two sword-wielding women, if you’re curious.
Clearly, someone at Capcom loves starting over. This seemingly masochistic mechanic is also a key element in the company’s Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, an RPG from the PlayStation 2 era that more or less demands you die and begin again to better learn how to survive some fights. I will eventually go back and try to grok Dragon Quarter because, man…I need to know. Maybe that’ll be on my “Games to Beat in 2014” list. Unfortunately, at the rate I’m playing, a few from my 2013 list will most likely be there too. In case it’s not clear, I’m not talking about the main character dying and reviving at some checkpoint–you literally must start Dead Rising 2 over again, from the very beginning, cutscenes and all. The twist is that you retain Chuck’s level, money, upgrades, and a few key items, so you’re only growing stronger with each and every playthrough.
But some games are not fun to play over and over, especially when the playing part is fueled by frustration. A few I find I keep coming back to and enjoying include Borderlands 2, Fallout: New Vegas, and Saints Row: The Third. Those kinds of gaming experience offer you choices and variations on how to play. You can go down an evil path or focuses on heavy weapons or whatever.
I think Dead Rising 2 is a prime example of a game you should only play once, all the way through; just like the zombies you hack and slash out of your way, this game moves at a shambling, almost idiotic pace. You can skip the cutscenes, but still have to endure the loading screens, and the missions do not play out any differently a second and third time through. Sure, you can get through them faster now that you know what they entail and have a better grip on what makes an effective zombie-killing weapon, but it’s more or less mindless grinding for the sake of…what? Some designer’s guilty pleasure? Also, stick suck at saving survivors unless they are standing a few feet away from the safehouse. Every playthrough is an uphill climb, each less than the previous, but still–completely unnecessary.
I think the most fun I’ve had so far with Dead Rising 2 is when I hit a zombie with a painting, stuck a goofy mask on its head, attached an IED to its back, and shot it from a safe distance after it meandered over to some friends, racking up a sickeningly rewarding amount of PP in one heck of a zomplosion. That said, I really hope I don’t have to start the game over for a third time.