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Dead Rising Case Zero presents as a zombie death demo for Dead Rising 2, the main event. Underneath however is a tale about the importance of the father/daughter relationship – albeit one with distracting zombie killing all around it.

I’m a fan of all things zombie. Films might be typically shallow and mindless but I’m always happy to watch them as long as they have some undead walking the streets. It was a similar tale for the first Dead Rising. Visceral and fun yet I have no recollection of it ever being particularly powerful in its storytelling.

Instead I found myself uninterested in the fate of all but myself in the game. I was absolutely terrible at it but it didn’t matter to me, as spending hour upon hour roaming the mall killing zombies with an array of different weaponry was what mattered.

I expected a similar experience with Dead Rising 2: Case Zero – prequel to Dead Rising 2 – but was surprised to find that the vignette was powerfully told.

The game opens with a father and daughter, Chuck and Katey, and their bid to escape from hordes of zombies, presumably in their local town. At some point Katey has been bitten by a zombie and the only way to fend off the infection ravaging her body is to keep her inoculated via the use of Zombrex at regular junctures in the game. This understandably makes Chuck extremely concerned for his daughter’s well being. It’s demonstrated well as all the actions within Case Zero are there in order to protect and ultimately save Katey.

Chuck and Katey’s truck, their only safe method of survival, is stolen at the start of the game, and so they’re trapped in a series of safe houses with Chuck needing to both collect enough Zombrex and also formulate a means for escape.

Although the voice acting is cheesy, it still moved me to hear how warm the father/daughter connection was. As a onetime ‘Daddy’s girl’, I know that my father would have done absolutely anything for me as a child and this is clearly shown in Chuck’s actions during the cut scenes.

There’s no concern for his own safety, Chuck is entirely focused on keeping his daughter alive and getting them out of there. Thus much of the game is spent collecting parts for a motorbike for their eventual escape. Although you don’t seem to fail the game by allowing Katey to die, the idea of allowing that never crossed my mind. The parental instinct was too strong for me to even try it.

Much of my time was spent collecting money to buy Zombrex from the nearby pawn shop. There were no doubt other ways to do it, but with limited time until the next dose I felt it important to grind my way to the obvious supply.

So I spent time in the local casino until I accursed USD25,000. It seemed ridiculous that even in such hard times, with thousands of zombies outside, that a pawn shop owner that I had saved from certain death, would still demand such huge sums of money from me. Capitalism finds a way to survive even in times of great suffering it seems.

Unfortunately I never quite managed to save myself and Katey from death. I was lured away by the promise of achievements – which were fun but not very productive for Katey. Out of sight I ended up leaving her to fend for herself – never to know that her father had selfishly got distracted by achievement lust.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is a bit of an everyman game in that respect. The considered, emotional side of me lapped up the relationships, while the gamer adored the flexibility in which I could achieve everything in the game. I love that I could concoct my own weapons all in the name of killing zombies in ever more inventive ways.

More importantly, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero tantalises the gaming taste buds in preparation for the full release of Dead Rising 2. While I don’t expect Dead Rising 2 to dwell on its storyline quite as much as Case Zero, I do expect it to be as much fun.

Jen Rawles writes the Considered Gamer column. “For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by games that can provoke an emotional reaction. I enjoy a game that can tell me a strong, emotive story even if sometimes the game mechanics behind it are weak.”