This is going up a bit later than I'd hoped — okay, WAY later than I'd hoped — but a combination of delays on the part of everyone even tangentially involved in this article appearing and Baby Jesus Day conspired to delay things. A ton.
As a result, here we are, mid-January, discussing DLC additions to my two most-anticipated games of last year: Dead Rising 2's "Case West" and the Fallout: New Vegas addition, "Dead Money."
(Aside: Before you hit the jump to the actual review text, know that while "Dead Money" is pretty typical DLC (read: you must own New Vegas in order to play it), Capcom has continued the trend it started with Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, by offering Case West to anyone willing to spend 800 Microsoft Points ($10) and download a 1GB+ file from the Xbox Live Arcade.
Personally, I love this scheme as it essentially gives prospective buyers the ability to use full-fledged DLC packs as makeshift demos for disc-based games, and saves me the trouble of having to switch out the Dead Rising 2 disc to play the addition. Gold star for Capcom.)
That said, on with the dual-review. Hit the jump for zombies and hologhosts.
- Capcom Entertainment
- Frank West: Copyright bandit!
Dead Rising 2: Case West
When Dead Rising 2 was first revealed the question on everyone's mind was "What happened to Frank West?" The protagonist of the original Dead Rising has developed a cult following after his adventures in the Willamette Mall, and no one wanted to think the man fell to the undead hordes after surviving countless zombies, psychopaths and black ops military goons.
The good news is that Frank survived. The bad news is that Frank got bit and lives on only through the grace of those 24-hour Zombrex infusions, just like Katey "daughter of Chuck and adorable impetus for the events of Dead Rising 2" Greene. This being a Capcom-designed universe, Chuck and Frank thus meet and join forces in a quest to expose the reality behind all these damn corpses and their shambling, flesh-munching ways.
As a reason to walk, knee-deep, through a million more zombies, wielding homemade weapons and splattering skulls like so many leftover pinatas, that intro works just fine for me.
While Dead Rising 2's biggest addition over its predecessor was its fancy multiplayer gameplay options, Case West takes things one step further and presents a new chapter designed almost entirely around co-operative gameplay. Case West can be played solo, true, but kicking ass alongside a friend as "Frank and Chuck: Zombie Hunters Inc." is far preferable.
To the surprise of none, Case West also expands on the majority of Dead Rising 2's standard elements. Playing through the DLC pack will expose you to new weapons (both free-standing and those you need to create yourself), new enemies and new combat moves. Likewise — and any vagueness here is to avoid spoilers — it also adds new, unexpected activities, somewhat along the lines of the human-sized hamster ball last seen in Fortune City.
Returning from the first Dead Rising is the ability to snap photos during play. Both Frank and Chuck can tote cameras and earn points for snapping pictures at opportune times.
Traditionally, opinions on the camera bit have been mixed, to say the least. Some players loved the feature and were pissed when it was cut from Dead Rising 2, others absolutely hated having to stop in the middle of a zombie attack to go all Georgia O'Keefe on the rotting flesh and bizarrely numerous Servbot heads nearby. Personally, I think it's yet another quirky dimension to a game already rife with quirk, so yay for the return of trying to snap upskirt shots of dead women!
- Capcom Entertainment
- If you read his jacket backwards, it says "Gnicar"
This being DLC all the usual elements are essentially identical to what you saw in Dead Rising 2. Graphics, sound, controls; if you enjoyed the actual gameplay feel and aesthetic/aural output of Dead Rising 2, you'll also dig Case West.
Actually, that's a pretty solid end point for this part of the dual review. Case West, while offering some new, fun things to do, is a lot more of the same. I adore Dead Rising 2, so at least for me, Case West is a total no-brainer. $10 to spend another weekend in my favorite zombie-themed game world? Sign me the hell up.
If you're a jerk who never liked Dead Rising 2 anyway though, nothing here is going to make you change your mind. Also, you're adopted and no one likes you.
- Bethesda Softworks
- LAPD ... brutality ... riots in Compton ... blah blah blah, insert your own damn joke
Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money
Wanna see just how much mileage I can get out of that last section's end point? I'm using it as the segue into my review of Dead Money too! Efficient journalism, thy name is, um ... whatever my name is!
Yeah, Dead Money, like Case West, brings a handful of new bits to the table, but there's no real revolution here. Perhaps that's too much to hope for in a downloadable content addition, but who knows what consumers expect these days? Anyway, yeah, graphics, sound, voice acting, style of humor; it's all pretty in line with what you saw in its disc-based predecessor. If you didn't like New Vegas, you won't like Dead Money. Simple.
Now that that's out of the way, how about we talk about what you get for the $10 price of admission, hm? As with some of the five DLC packs on offer for Fallout 3, once you download/install — the concept of "installing" on a console still weirds me out a bit — Dead Money your New Vegas character will suddenly pick up a mysterious radio transmission. Find where it's coming from and you'll have found the new content. Seamless integration with the game world, that is.
So, there you are, following the radio transmission, and you come to an underground bunker where you're essentially shanghaied into robbing a casino. You're asked to assemble a crew, scout the place and pull everything off, lest your mysterious "benefactors" opt to blow the head off of your neck with an explosives-laden collar.
Think Ocean's 11, if the majority of the audience was hoping to see George Clooney's mug splattered across Don Cheadle like Reser's Extra Smug Guacamole.
On introduction to your new surroundings, Dead Money seems to have some serious creative chutzpah behind its development. The graphics engine is the same, but the architecture style is quite different from anything in New Vegas proper. Likewise, the gameplay, which inevitably boils down to "you and friends navigate a maze full of deathtraps" is handled in a way entirely unique (read: the theme here is "horror film") to this DLC pack.
- Bethesda Softworks
- Thank you for using Stop-N-Drop, America's favorite suicide booth since 2008!
And, of course, Dead Money also brings along a handful of cool new gear, skills and a handy increase to the level cap.
That said, in the range of now-generation Fallout DLC, Dead Money ranks as above average at best. It doesn't have the buggy, "how did this get out the door?" quality control issues of Fallout 3's Mothership Zeta, but at the same time it also doesn't really do all that much aside from giving players a pretty stock-standard, if entertaining, quest line that slots snugly into the rest of the New Vegas world.
Those who absolutely adore New Vegas and finished every speck of content it offered will drop $10 on Dead Money, no questions asked — and if they enjoyed New Vegas that much, their purchase will be totally justified. Anyone looking for something vastly new though, should maybe wait for the next addition to Bethesda's epic world.
Or grow a more realistic concept of the purpose behind expansion content. Either way.
Both Dead Money and Case West offer more content for fans of their respective predecessors, but neither should rope in gamers who didn't already invest in their respective series. Still, $10 a pop for another weekend of quality time with two of 2010's finest titles seems a solid investment to me.
If you own New Vegas or Dead Rising 2, get thee to yon Xbox Live Marketplace.