Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Review

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is the latest example of Capcom’s strategy to create expanded versions of already released titles, as has been seen with Super Street Fighter 4 and soon with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Yet unlike those games, which justified their existence with new characters and much-needed balancing tweaks, Off the Record struggles in its attempts to prove that it’s necessary. What tries to come off as a fan-requested “Director’s Cut” slowly becomes a hollow experience that smells too much like a retread.

Off the Record casts players as Frank West in place of original protagonist Chuck Greene. Frank is now a washed-up reality star: after gaining fame for blowing the top off the Willamette incident, he was reduced to fighting in the game show “Terror is Reality.” After receiving his money for his latest appearance, he catches show host T.K. paying off a CURE activist to plant a bomb and start the Fortune City outbreak as seen in the original Dead Rising 2. Frank grabs his camera and sets off to catch T.K. and expose another conspiracy.

Frank still has it

Aside from a few story tweaks, T.K. is revealed as the cause of the outbreak from the beginning, Rebecca Chang is now T.K.’s captive, and a bonus case file, the cutscenes and general story beats are the same. Take out Chuck, plug in Frank, and add a few Frank-West-like lines and voila: a new narrative is produced for Off the Record. Frank is even infected, thus the trivial need to locate Zombrex is still present. It’s flat-out lazy and squanders the potential of Frank, a veteran zombie killer, being in this situation.

Forgetting the similar story, a few new additions are present. A futuristic amusement park, Uranus Zone, has been added, with working rides, midway games, and a vault for which players can find safety deposit box keys. The rides give interesting new ways to kill zombies and the new zone also introduces new combo weapons, such as a UFO that one can slam onto zombies, which then takes them on a ride before exploding. The new weapons add an extra dash of insanity to the already insane roster of weapons from the original, but the weapons’ existence leads to another problem with the game: Photography.

Photography is back with West, and is a new way to gain Prestige Points, the precious system of gaining levels. In DR2, combo weapons were players’ main source of PP, but now with photography, you have another avenue of earning them. The problem? Photography doesn’t net as much as combo weapons. Taking a picture of say, a swarm of zombies as far as the eye can see will net about 600-800 PP points, which can easily be earned faster and more efficiently with a combo weapon. Taking pictures of psychopaths in PP moments nets good amounts, but stopping to take a picture means being open to have a large chunk of health removed. What should have been a welcome return to form becomes a side feature that will be quickly forgotten, as making the cooler combo weapons will earn more points. It’s still fun to take pictures, but it’s an awkward feature shoehorned into a game that wasn’t built for it.

Frank got tired of all the rowdy customers

After players are done with a second trek through Fortune City, they can tackle the game’s biggest addition: Sandbox Mode. Here, the city can be explored without a time limit, completing missions to gain bronze, silver, or gold medals. These missions open up as more zombies are killed, and I really wish they didn’t. It’s a complete chore having to kill zombies to open up missions; every mission should be open from the start. Still, Fortune City can be explored in its entirety, and all levels gained and money earned transfer over to the story mode, so if one can get over this hurdle, it may not be a total bust.

Off the Record does try to clean up the original game’s technical issues and does a fairly competent job for the most part. Character models are more detailed, the environment is now easier to navigate thanks to the new custom waypoint system, and load times are nicely sped up. The PC version is still the one to get, as was the original, but the console versions aren’t terrible shells of the PC version anymore.

Off the Record isn’t a terrible game. It’s still has the same gameplay systems and wacky combo weapons as the original DR2, flaws and all. It just doesn’t need to exist and I struggle to find any reason to recommend it. If DR2 was skipped, because the introduction of Chuck Greene was too much for some players, then maybe this version is what you were waiting for. If one played DR2 already, then Off the Record will offer you nothing new aside from a few minor story changes. If there are any rabid DR2 fans out there, though, then maybe Off the Record is different enough and right up that alley.

Just don’t expect to be surprised.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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