Luckily, Dead Rising 2 doesn't muck up the formula with wild gameplay shifts or scenario changes. It maintains nearly everything that made Dead Rising such a weird concoction, warts and all, but improves aspects that frustrated many gamers while lightly expanding what made it such a fresh and exciting experience.
Dead Rising 2 swaps in a new setting and cavalcade of personalities, but despite the fresh faces, the experience remains remarkably familiar throughout. Fortune City, a fictional sprawling Las Vegas-style casino complex, may be defined primarily through its slot machines and risque content, but like any worthwhile Vegas destination its casino floors are bookended by malls and standalone shops, and you'll spend at least as much time looting stores as you will vaulting over roulette tables.
New lead Chuck Greene may lack the aggressive obnoxiousness of photojournalist Frank West (and is arguably a less endearing character because of it), but ultimately his plight to save his infected daughter and clear his name after being framed for a zombie outbreak feels secondary to the immense joy of slaying the undead in all sorts of devious ways.
Living out your Shaun of the Dead fantasies by chucking records at zombies feels downright pedestrian in a game that lets you mow down foes while riding a pink tricycle, thwart oncomers with a phallic-shaped "massager" and trample enemies by the truckload while rolling through tunnels in a large metal ball straight out of American Gladiators. The collection of curious items is wider and more diverse the second time around, and even after playing through the original and the Xbox 360-exclusive prequel Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, it's amazing how much fun it is to stumble on some random, otherwise mundane item and use it to bash the nearest shambling foe.
But as Case Zero demonstrated, Dead Rising 2 is no longer just about finding intense and incongruous ways to slay zombies, it's also about inventing new contraptions to ratchet up both the bloodshed and hilarity. Specific items in the game can be combined with others, with dozens of available pairings that spawn shockingly creative death devices.