The dead, they are a-risin'

The impending release of Capcom's second installment in the Dead Rising series (third if you include the monetized demo version, Case Zero) gave me pause to step away from my other projects and return to the realm of games criticism for a moment. That's right – a mini-meta-review of Dead Rising 2. Let's go ahead and boil it down.

Having already run dry the well of popular western fixations – zombie outbreaks and material consumption – Capcom needed two fresh and similarly intertwined themes with which to mask the aging and conspicuously unchanged mechanics of its original 2006 title. As it turns out, the recipe is simple and gluten-rich.

Ingredient A: Las Vegas. While becoming rapidly overexposed, this perpetually rediscovered oasis of quaint indulgence works in a pinch. Fallout: New Vegas clearly has the most high profile lock on the venue, but the recent cancellation of Midway’s aptly wealth-draining This is Vegas yields Capcom the opportunity to double down their bets on Dead Rising 2. It’s a smart wager; Fortune City’s bevy of ubiquitous locales (furnished with cheap and readily procurable Assets, much like the real strip) can carry the franchise until this aesthetic is completely “down to the felt.”

Ingredient B: Moe. The developers opted to craft Dead Rising 2’s narrative around Michelle Tanner and the player/protagonist’s inherent desire to give her medicine. Though pedophilia is ubiquitous to all cultures, this clever obfuscation is a novel approach for the western market. Aside from the venerable BioShock franchise, the lolita complex remains largely under-leveraged in gaming’s largest market. Mixing a desire for untapped profits and sexually retarded fantasy, Capcom shows a true understanding of the Las Vegas mindset. This is gonzo gaming. But in the end, is giving Michelle Tanner her medicine a more engaging experience than Idol M@ster?

You don’t got it, dude.