Darren Franich
October 05, 2010 AT 02:00 PM EDT

Chainsawing through a parade of zombies is always going to be fun, but Dead Rising 2 is far more interested in fashion than gore. You can dress your man in almost anything: a tuxedo, a football uniform, a mini-skirt. There are dozens of weapons, but since killing zombies is easy, even the most brutal killing machine feels more like a fashion accessory. (What will go best with your tuxedo: a battle-axe, a shotgun, or a wooden baseball bat with nails poking out of one end?) Dead Rising 2 is probably the least scary zombie videogame ever made, but if you squint a little bit, it looks like a Paul Verhoeven-esque deep-cover satire of American consumerism. With chainsaws.

Not much has changed from the first Dead Rising. The gameplay is still a mishmash of GTA-style free-range and narrative-based missions, with a fantastically annoying ticking clock that forces you to rush everywhere. (Only Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask managed to make the ticking clock work. Actually, now that I think about it, even that was incredibly annoying. On another note, am I the only person who liked Majora’s Mask?) The cut-scenes are uniformly awful and punishingly frequent. The voice-acting is pitched somewhere between “Robot Answering Machine” and “Dubbed German Soap Opera.”

But Dead Rising 2 is also caustically funny. You’re trapped inside of a mall-casino complex where pretty much everything can be a weapon. And who can resist the subtle charm of picking up a giant pink teddy bear and throwing it into a mass of zombies? Or of taping a machete to a toy helicopter to create a Flying Zombie Decapitation machine? Or matching bowie knives with boxing gloves (see right)? All button-mashers should be this stylishly twisted. Unfortunately, just when you’re finding a fun groove, the main storyline will beckon – sick daughter, mysterious conspiracy, blah blah blah. Dead Rising 2 makes for a great gore-splattered mallrat comedy. But when it comes to Zombie Apocalypse action games, Resident Evil 2 is The Godfather, Left 4 Dead 2 is Goodfellas, and Dead Rising 2 is Mickey Blue Eyes. B-

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