Just in case you haven’t had enough zombie slaying over the past year, Capcom is revisiting the Dead Rising franchise (again) and bringing back everyone’s favorite photojournalist Frank West. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is basically the same game we played earlier this year with a new protagonist and of course a slew of new bullet points to feature on the game box. However, the biggest inclusion is also the one that makes this second trip to Fortune City worth the effort, and eliminates a lot of the problems gamers have had with the series since its inception.
Frank’s career is in the crapper. After the events at the Willamette Mall, he enjoyed success and even his own TV show, but after he was victim of a scandal, things went downhill. Frank then sees the outbreak in Fortune City and decides it is time to revitalize his career. So, he heads out once again to face the zombie horde.
Mostly everything from the original DR2 is intact from the same Terror is Reality game show (although the multiplayer portion of the game has been removed) to the psychopaths; the game just follows a slightly altered reality. They have spiced it up with a few new psychopaths and, of course, the return of Frank’s camera and that aspect of the game. You can once again snap photos to earn more PP to level up your hero. Frank can also combine weapons much like Chuck could, creating some wickedly fun weapons to fight off the horde. There are a few new combinations, but again nothing that changes the game.
The layout of Fortune City remains entirely intact, with the addition of one new zone aptly called Uranus Zone. Much like the rest of the game, it features tongue-in-cheek humor and plenty of mini-games for you to toy around with. The biggest addition to the entire package, though, comes in the return of the beloved sandbox mode.
One of the largest issues some players have with the Dead Rising series is the timer. Completing missions simply removed the appeal of the game, as you never had time to just stop and enjoy the zombie slashing. Sandbox mode eliminates this problem by letting you roam free with no story elements and a world full of zombies to mow down. You can still create weapons, earn PP and even complete unique challenges. This is the mode that makes Off the Record worth owning, even if you have already done a tour of Fortune City. It is also worth noting that all progress and PP earned in Sandbox mode is immediately transferred over to your story character, so grinding and starting over is no longer an issue.
Of course, being that this is essentially the same game we already played outside of these added nuances, all of the quirks from DR2 are still present. The inventory system remains fickle with switching between weapons more convoluted than it needs to be. I still accidentally eat food when I don’t need to. Controls are still stiff and certain simple actions still feel like they require entirely too much wrestling with the controls. Still, if you are used to it by now, it likely won’t make a difference.
Running on the same engine means Off the Record also shares the same visual problems of DR2. There are a ton of zombies onscreen, but the frame rate stutters when the action gets intense. I love the environments and locales, but character animations still feel rigid at times. I do enjoy the voice acting in the game as it fits the overall level of cheese the game permeates. Sound effects are decent, and the zombies give off the perfect ambience.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is an interesting game to review. On one hand, it is easily the definitive version of the game so far. I enjoy the campy, over-the-top antics of Frank West and the inclusion of the sandbox mode makes this game much more enjoyable in short bursts. My main issues lie with the fact that this is the fourth game this year to be released under the DR2 label. There is a great package here for the price, just be sure you are not burnt out on the series before taking the plunge.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.