Dead Rising 2 (for some reason, I almost typed Dead To Rights 2, and now I'm picturing a game where Jack Slate crushes the undead legions between his massive balls) is a game that has earned an extremely rare distinction: it is a game that I actually wanted to play more of after I'd finished reviewing it. Usually, my interest drains when I am no longer under a professional obligation to play a game, but over the years I've been compiling a list of games to come back to once I'm a rich and comfortable novelist with more free time. Dead Rising 2 is on the list, along with Assassin's Creed 2, Just Cause 2, and the Mario Galaxies.

Unusually, though, I actually had time last week to play Dead Rising 2 as far as Overtime Mode, and came to an additional conclusion that they may have scaled back the difficulty too far. While Dead Rising 1's psychopaths and escorts were an extremely meaty challenge, if somewhat marred by infuriating stunlocking and terrible AI, Dead Rising 2 is a comparative breeze. While in DR1 you'd need to kit out your team of survivors like the marines from Aliens and patiently set waypoints all the way to the safehouse in case anyone forgot how to navigate an ankle-high ledge, you barely even need to acknowledge the DR2 survivors and they'll follow you to the edge of the world, or at least the edge of the current map. And most of the bosses are easily defeated with powerful combo weapons and copious amounts of orange juice and coffee creamer. The final boss in the main story mode is absolutely trivial if you take five minutes out of your time to visit the gun shop before confronting him and pick up a sniper rifle.

But then I realized that the common thread of my "too easy" arguments was preparation. The boss fights are only easy if you're properly prepared for them. Even the final boss killed me on my first go, but after seeing that all he did was stand on an elevated platform throwing things, I realized that he had an obvious throbbing weakness to long-range weapons and went on a gun shop tour before my second attempt. And the only reason I knew that orange juice and coffee creamer were the best healing items in the game was because I remember that being the case in DR1. Nothing in the games draw your attention to this fact - you just have to experiment and find out for yourself.

And with that in mind, I remembered that my first attempt at the game had been fraught with difficulty. Bosses gave me considerably more trouble, and several of them I'd simply gave up on ever beating. This wasn't just because I was low level and hadn't learned the dodge roll: Until I conversed with a friend about it, I didn't actually know that you could make combo weapons even if you haven't found its recipe card. This same friend also taught me about the fireaxe/sledgehammer combo which not only does massive damage but is also a license to print experience points when you swing it into a zombie horde. But the game doesn't draw any attention to the weapon, or the orange juice, and didn't really tell me anything except "you have 72 hours before rescue, also: zombies." Everything has to be discovered.

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