"Dead Rising 2" is quite a disappointment. I thought it was going to be a game where zombies overran glitzy Las Vegas and you had to kill them, because the game-maker kept releasing preview photos and videos that looked all zombie Vegas-y.
"Dead Rising 2" is set in a shopping mall in fictional Fortune City, Nevada. This mall has video poker machines in it, and some zombie showgirls stumbling around, which is funny. Otherwise, this just looks like any shopping mall in America, overrun by zombies with bad taste in slacks.
That makes "Dead Rising 2" feel like a bloodier retread of the first "Dead Rising." Now, I loved the first "Dead Rising." But this sequel is so similar (albeit with cooler weapons), I can recommend it only to people who are brand new to the "Rising" series.
You portray a motorcycle athlete, holed up safely in a home base inside the mall's security offices. From there, you jog into the shopping corridors, where literally thousands of slow-moving zombies lunge at you.
Your goal is to constantly find and rescue really slow, really dumb humans, and slowly, slowly, slowly escort them back to your home base.
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Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games, according to GameStop. Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2.
1. "Halo: Reach" (Microsoft) for Xbox 360; rated "M" (blood, violence)
2. "Call of Duty: Black Ops" (Activision) Nov. 9 pre-orders for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, Wii, PC; rating pending
3. "Final Fantasy XIII" (Square Enix) for PC; also available for PS 3; rated "T" (mild language, suggestive themes, violence)
4. "Call of Duty: Black Ops" for PS 3
5. "World of Warcraft: Cataclysm" (Blizzard Entertainment) winter pre-order for PC; rating pending
6. "Fable III Limited Editions" (Microsoft) for Xbox 360; rated "M" (blood, language, sexual content, use of alcohol, violence)
7. "Dead Rising 2" (Capcom) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, language, sexual themes, use of alcohol)
8. "Medal of Honor Limited Edition" for Xbox 360
9. "FIFA Soccer 2011" (EA) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, Wii, DS, PS 2, PSP; rated "E"
10. "Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood" (Ubisoft) Nov. 16 pre-order for PS 3; also available for Xbox 360; rated "M" (blood, sexual themes, strong language, violence)
(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")
Don't worry about the zombies. They move with the sluggishness of 2-year-olds. Running past them is like running a football against 2,000 toddlers: easy but tedious.
The look of the game is pretty sweet. Game designers did a great job of creating funny and creative zombies, who look like old ladies, big-and-tall guys, thieving punks and the like.
And killing zombies can be super-silly fun. You can combine mall items, such as a baseball bat spiked with metal nails, then go on a crazy-weapon-wielding rampage. But let me share some sad truths.
A) I'm so bored with the home base routine here, which also plagues this year's "Red Dead Redemption." The home base routine is: You venture out from a base, travel for many boring minutes to a location, then kill somebody, then travel boring minutes back to the base, then leave the base again for another similar mission, etc., etc. The home base loop is the worst trend to happen to games in the last 10 years.
B) There's no automatic "save" system, so if you die during a hard mission, you get respawned all the way back to some long-ago save point.
C) If you attack zombies while they're attacking human survivors, you will inevitably, accidentally hit the innocent humans. Those innocent humans will then attack you. That is insane.
D) You can't kick a zombie while he's down on the ground. That is insane.
E) The game should let you combine weapons from the start. But no. You must earn baseball cards to unlock weapon combinations, such as pairing a shotgun with a pitchfork. That is insane.
I had high hopes that "Dead Rising 2" would offer hours and hours of crazy entertainment in a Vegas-themed cavalcade of casinos, but instead, it reminds me of the word for snake eyes: craps.
("Dead Rising 2" by Capcom retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $40 for PC - Plays dull and tedious. Looks great. Moderately challenging. Rated "M" for blood, gore, intense violence, language, sexual themes and use of alcohol. One star out of four.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.