Let’s cut to the chase, the horror genre isn’t exactly my forte much less my preference in gaming these days; however, my recent experiences with Left 4 Dead 2 and Dead Rising 2 have me wondering where one can find the best of the best in prime time zombie slaying. Both titles have their strengths and weaknesses but (according to Dead Space) “only the dead survive.” So, Competition: Dead on Arrival has begun! First up, Left 4 Dead 2 . . .
As mentioned before, I don’t normally make a habit of playing horror titles but Left 4 Dead 2 caused me to re-think my approach to zombie apocalypses. Right from the menus, everything is straightforward and accessible. Pick a gametype, set the difficulty, round up some fellow noobs, decide on a level, roll the camera for YouTube, lather, rinse, repeat. I’ve said in the past how much an experience with a game can be enhanced by simply reducing the amount of button presses between gamer and gameplay and Left 4 Dead 2 keeps things pretty tight while still allowing the player to have a sufficient amount of options at their disposal. The pick-up-and-play nature of the game (not to mention the ease of rounding up some fellow noobs) really makes this a tough package to beat. The addition of squad banter, a decent array of weapons, some multiplayer mayhem hilarity, added DLC, and you’ve got your friday night set for some epic gameplay commentary!
Although L4D2 has an appropriate amount of weapons and options to go about playing the game, it always seems to be lacking that extra bit of . . . color. Advancing through weapon tiers gets to be monotonous and gameplay becomes wearily predictable after a while. The levels are nicely designed, though nothing spectacular, and the gameplay is mostly relying on your trusty firearm for survival. Instead, wouldn’t it be great if you’re facing down a horde of zombies and rather than just pulling the trigger you could, I don’t know, joust with a parasol! Pilot a lawn mower! Push a wheelchair! Wield a mannequin! Spray an extinguisher! Lob a bat! Hey, why not go legend of zelda and spin-sword with a guitar?!? I speak of, none other than, Dead Rising 2 . . .
For everything accessible and immediate about L4D2, Dead Rising 2 hold its own with its colorful diversity and bizarre gameplay mechanics. Once out in the free-roam areas, a player can rescue survivors, try on new apparel, combine items to form stronger weapons, drive a vehicle, complete objectives, or simply beat down the undead to one’s content. The possibilities are endless! Ever tired batting a zombie in the face while wearing pajamas? Now’s your chance! How about whacking an undead grandpa with a leaf pot? However, dumb fun alone can’t be tasked with holding up and entire game and to be honest Dead Rising 2 (as a complete package) couldn’t be dumber. The story and cutscenes are laughably forgettable and it quickly reminds us why there’s a difference between “zombie games” and “horror games.”
Even when its dumb fun is in full stride, the game does have its issues. While there is an option to invite friends to partake in co-op, it can be only done through the “communicator” interface and it’s limited to only to 2 players. As fun as it is to co-op against zombie hordes, Dead Rising 2′s revival system is perplexing at best. When a teammate goes down, you can’t just stand next to him/her, press a button, and wait till they’re up and moving again. No, you have to find food. Yes, food. Much harder than it sounds. Chances are you’ll have already eaten all the food that the level has to offer and navigating the worlds alone while simultaneously reviving a teammate can quickly become frustrating. So yeah, not perfect, but what do you expect from a game that allows you to strap a battery to a wheelchair huh? Good game, dumb fun, a few more tweaks to framerate and mechanics and this franchise is set.
So, what are your thoughts? Where do you think one will find the prime time in zombie madness? Is L4D2′s straightforward approach enough? Or do you seek a little more in the diversity department and find that jousting with an umbrella against an army of living corpses oddly satisfying? Remember, only you can prevent forest fires!
-Fifth Fleet Out-