Part of the reason “Dead Rising” and “Dead Rising 2” [review] hit such a sweet spot with me is because it almost feels as if it were created with journalists in mind.
Not only was the hero of the first game, Frank West, a photojournalist in search of a big story, the sequel features a remarkably similar, if less ethical, TV reporter, Rebecca Chang. Though she’s initially unwittingly complicit in the framing of main character Chuck Greene for the zombie outbreak in Fortune City, Rebecca quickly becomes Chuck’s ally in his fight to clear his name.
It’s clear Blue Castle Games, “Dead Rising 2’s” developers, have plenty to say, much of it cynical, about the media’s ability to spread convincing lies and shape opinions, but it’s no coincidence that in one of the game’s climactic scenes, Channel 6 Action News comes through in a spot where government fails.
That said, “Dead Rising 2” appeals to me more for its strict adherence to deadlines.
I’ve been working in daily newspapers for a little over 11 years now, and for nearly all of that, I’ve spent each day trying to get my work done before a set time so that the newspaper can be on reader’s steps when they wake up in the morning. While it’s impossible to put out an entire paper every single day without a couple of mistakes or gaps in coverage, a team of folks is working together to produce the best work they can in a relatively short window.
So, too, is the world of the “Dead Rising” games. It’s tough to nail down a “perfect” playthrough in which you rescue all the survivors, uncover all of “Dead Rising 2’s” plot and dose your daughter with Zombrex every morning. A lot of the time, you’ll have to cut corners to get everything done, and those corners typically come in the form of uninvestigated leads and stranded survivors who must wait until your next playthrough before being rescued.
That said, I feel like my real-life job skills translated well to “Dead Rising 2.” In my first time finishing the game, I was able to rescue every survivor I received a tip about, collect a great number of combo cards and achieve the optimal ending, with a minimal amount of trouble. (There were a few survivors I missed, but all appeared to be characters I needed to discover on my own.) I fell just three survivors short of notching the Xbox 360 achievement for rescuing 50 people.
How did I do it? I was aided in my task by my ability to consolidate errands and travel through the map as efficiently as possible, with minimal backtracking. Also of great help was my making sure I had plenty of weapons to give to my survivors, a skill a lot like asking colleagues for help on deadline at the newspaper.
As fun as it can be, I did not waste a lot of time slaughtering zombies, figuring there’d be plenty of time for that once I’d finished the game and started a new playthrough. Nor did I spend a great deal of time changing costumes or tinkering with the game’s power-boosting smoothies. (I did have a couple of opportunities for experimentation after finishing cases early, but they didn’t last long.) Once I found a few combo weapons and power-up drinks that worked for me, that was it. I made them again and again, but only when I happened to be passing buy a conveniently located workshop or blender.
Am I belaboring the similarities between my (mostly) office job and Chuck Greene’s mission of slaughtering undead and clearing his name? Probably a little, but in a games marketplace filled with soldiers and marines, we pencil-pushers have to take what we can get.