I must be getting impatient because this is now two games in a row where I've decided it's just not worth playing to the end. First Prince of Persia, now Dead Rising 2, yet it's rare that I don't finish a game.
In DR2 I got to a point, about 3/4's of the way through the game, where I had to spend about ten minutes getting to an ally that's being held hostage. The zombies had just been upgraded and were much faster. If they got you you'd have to perform a fucking quick-time-event to get out of it. I'd changed the keyboard config which meant a time delay on hitting the QTE, got surrounded and died. I couldn't even get to the hostage. On my second attempt I was a bit more cautious, getting to her without losing any health and actually taking some food (health) with me, because getting to the hostage was the easy part - next was a boss fight. A very difficult boss fight that I only just made it through with barely any health left and all food gone. Then, the game decides I have to CARRY MY HOSTAGE all the way back. This is fine - just give me some health after what was the toughest boss battle so far, or at least a save point. Nope. No health, no saves. I'm forced to do a ten minute trek through improved zombies, a big boss fight, then slowly make my way all the way back again. In this case all I was doing was trying to get to the nearest save location, which in DR2 are bathrooms, just to make sure I didn't have to go through the boss again. I got to one, only to find two military outside firing off their guns. I had no idea if they were on my side or not (why the fuck wouldn't they be?), so I cautiously stroll up. Bullet in the head, I'm down and by the time my slow as fuck character gets back up I'm completely surrounded by zombies with no chance of survival. About 25 minutes of gameplay gone and I'd have to do the boss fight again.
What sort of fucking moron developers allow such a long sequence without a save? In any game, you MUST HAVE A CHECKPOINT AFTER THE BOSS FIGHT! It's just very poor game design, and a big issue in DR2. If only the game had done proper saves instead of having to hunt down distant bathrooms.
So save points are a mess, often leaving you a long time without saving
The combat isn't fun. Insane and completely unrealistic quantities of zombies fill the game. Where the hell have all these people come from, is the entire population of the city inside this shopping mall?! Most of the time is spent trying to walk between zombies and not get grabbed. Personally, I didn't find this fun. You do get weapons, mainly melee based. But even then they're frustrating to play with because the character is unresponsive. Swing a weapon at an enemy, then for almost a second the character just stands there before you can resume. Sometimes it's just enough time for the zombie behind you to walk up and grab you. The character also doesn't turn fast enough. So most of the time it's just not worth trying to attack zombies because with the unresponsive controls you can get overwhelmed quite quickly.
While the weapons are the most creative part of this game, DR2 would have been far better with more fluid, fast combat. A pair of swords and some combos with the ability to carve through the hordes like butter would have been far more fun than the slow, dull combat we got. It sure as hell doesn't give L4D2 any competition.
Design is completely mediocre for 2010. The entire game is based in a shopping mall, so the visuals get old fast as it's just the same thing to the end. Not sure how big the mall would be, maybe one kilometre squared? Just Cause 2 was thirty. Nuff said. Also for a popular horror theme, you'd think the developers would try to put some fear into the mall, maybe not have it constantly full-bright. Some blood and guts, a few horrific displays. But this is really no horror game at all; just a bright and sparkly day at the mall, GTA-style, with crowds of very slow moving people. Sounds like real life!
I decided to play DR2 with an existing character build. The game recommends replaying with higher builds, allowing you to restart the entire story but keep your character build. On my first playthrough with a new character, it just seemed like I was going to have to spend too many hours building the character up. So restarting with an existing build was a good decision. It meant I didn't have to concern myself with getting money, upgraded PP, finding combo cards to build equipment. It gave me enough weapon slots and health to be enjoyable, whereas there really wasn't enough with a new build with just 4 weapon slots in a game that probably has 50 weapons in your viewable vicinity at any time in the game.
But even with an existing build, I could tell some of the boss battles were going to be tough. On a new build, I feel like they would have been far too difficult. Especially considering weapons don't last long and food (which also uses up weapon slots) should be carried as well. With the higher build I was able to take in some more powerful weapons. So DR2 is certainly a game that would be better the second or third time through compared to your first.
The story in DR2 wasn't too bad, and cutscenes quite decent. But then outside cutscenes all communication is done through subtitles without actual voice actors. Very budget.
The way DR2 progresses the main missions is based on real time. So you can't do the next mission until a certain time, which could be twelve hours away. Fortunately twelve hours in the game is probably only a half hour outside the game, but it means you've got to go and find things to do during this time, mostly in mucking around the mall or do side mission. I learned quickly the side missions are lame and unrewarding, usually just giving you PP. Mostly they involved escorting someone back to the safe house. It takes forever to get them to finally come with you, but if they get caught by zombies it's very easy to end up hitting them as well, which will sometimes cause them to turn and attack you instead! So the escort missions weren't fun. Some of the other side missions were made up of mini-boss type characters, or at least normal humans with insane amounts of health that want to kill you. Better than the escort missions, but you never really knew which one you were getting.
So the side missions suck, which meant I spent a LOT of this game simply away from the keyboard waiting for time to pass. Probably 2-3 hours total. Literally, I'm standing in the safe house, listening to the main character stomp his feet and pant like child every five fucking seconds (eventually I just turned the sound off) waiting to be able to start the next main mission. That's how shit the side missions are, I'd rather sit and do nothing than do them. But I couldn't go away completely because if time goes an hour beyond, it's game over.
Oh and I can't forget... when's the last time I played a game with no keyboard remapping? I can't remember, but DR2 doesn't allow it! I was forced to try and change the mess of a config file and use GlovePie to remap the controls, which kind of worked. But still, what a fucking lazy port.
Overall Dead Rising 2 is a game I just didn't enjoy. Very average visual design and unresponsive combat, a poor save system and long waits of nothing (or crappy escort side missions) between main missions result in a very, very overrated game. The only things it got right were the large and creative assortment of weapons and possible weapon combinations. But creative and fun are two different things - even the Star Wars light saber felt weak. IGN giving this an 8.5? I can explain that in one word - Capcom.