Dead Rising 2
PS3 (Review Copy) Xbox 360, PC
Apparently zombie is the new black. Where vampires were once chic de rigueur, the undead have risen from hipster indie fandom and exploded in the mainstream. Er ... in video games at least. Seriously, look around: Every game seems to have a zombie mode. So with gaming zombiedom at its apparent zenith, Capcom rolls out its zombie slaughter powerhouse. Dead Rising 2 sports a few new tricks over the original but, unfortunately, a few issues hang over.
Five years after the original Dead Rising, our protagonist Chuck Greene is a contestant on the American Gladiators-styled, Terror is Reality. Using winnings to buy zombrex to aid his zombie-infected daughter Katey, everything goes well until an outbreak in Las Vegas-inspired Fortune City sends Chuck scrambling for safety. Help will arrive in three days, but, until then, Chuck must stay alive, locate the zombrex, and save any other survivors. Oh, yeah ? news reports claim Chuck is responsible for the outbreak, so he's gotta clear his name too.
But the game here is zombie killing, and Chuckie's a pro.
You'll slaughter the zombie menace while accomplishing the ever-increasing missions assigned to you. Luckily, Chuck's handy with duct tape, able to fashion even deadlier weapons — several of which are useful, while others are comedy, but all have singular purpose: to lift the number of your zombie kills. The biggest problem is that while there are plenty of killable zombies, the game missions require such strict time management that you're prevented from going nuts and committing zombie genocide.
In a way, Dead Rising 2 is a bit of a tease. Its over-the-top premise is lessened by missions requiring you to not prioritize carnage. The best ending requires multiple playthroughs, but, unfortunately, gamers into pure zombie mayhem might be turned off. Granted, the game allows you to continue if you fail an important story mission, but it feels like a cheap copout.
Medal of Honor
Xbox 360 (Review Copy) PS3, PC
Once upon a time, the WW2 Shooter genre was ruled by EA's Medal of Honor, but following the highly successful Allied Assault, developers of that game split to create for Activision. Those games? Call of Duty.
With CoD becoming hugely successful, and removing the series from World War II with Modern Warfare, EA has decided to reboot the MoH series. And with this modern-day release, EA comes up just short of great.
Enlisting real military consultants to lend a sense of realism, MoH opens with satellite transmissions clearly referencing the 9/11 attacks. Even in military simulators, there's an element of fiction added, so to hear both the Taliban and al-Queda referenced in a video game is slightly unnerving.
Stepping into the boots of Tier 1 operators in Afghanistan during Operation: Enduring Freedom, you'll control two separate fire teams, U.S. Army Rangers, and an Apache helicopter pilot. The action is fast paced, exciting and there are a several highlights, such as the final stand to secure a landing zone, but too many viewpoints get crammed into the campaign, and it ends up feeling a bit short.
DICE, the same developers behind EA's Battlefield: Bad Company, handles the multiplayer. Using a different game engine than the single-player campaign, the difference is obvious, as this feels like BC2's multiplayer v2.0. That's not a bad thing, as BC2's multiplayer was excellent, but there are issues. Early on, expect lots of frustration because you will get picked off at will, so you'll learn the sniper-favoring maps if you expect to succeed.
Because different developers handled the single and multiplayer, Medal of Honor feels like two games. The campaign has awesome moments, only it ends too early, while the multiplayer takes a more deliberate approach. Is it enough to topple Call of Duty? Maybe not, but it definitely makes up for lost ground.