Dead Rising 2: Off The Record

Dead Rising 2: Off The Record Eric Layman Hot

http://digitalchumps.com/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/300x300s/58/ca/37/_cover_131845293347.jpg
Written by Eric Layman     October 12, 2011    
 
6.8
 
0.0 (0)
0   11   0   0   0
 
Write Review

Videogames

Publisher
Console (if any)
Genre
Release Date
October 11, 2011
MSRP $
39.99
ESRB
Players
Online?

Dead Recycling

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is in a pretty weird position. It benefits from being another romp through an alternate reality take on Dead Rising 2, but suffers for, well, being another romp through a very similar Dead Rising 2. It was a great game the first time around (I awarded it a 9 last year) but on round two I felt a certain malaise surrounding the overwhelming déjà vu of a second helping. I mean, technically Off the Record is the same great game with added material, but it also reeks of a debatably necessary cash-in opportunity, not unlike Capcom's fighting game lineage. Whether this could have been premium downloadable content, a stand-alone $20 download, or was justified as a $40 retail product was tough to resolve, but I think I've settled on an answer; maybe.

Frank West is back. I never had a problem with Chuck Greene; the innocent plight of Chuck's infected daughter juxtaposed between hilarious horror show in Fortune City was enough, but the fans have allegedly spoken and said souls have demanded the return Dead Rising's original protagonist. Frank remains an interesting character because he bucks nearly every trend associated with a leading man. He's balding, fat, a jerk, generally ugly, and has somehow managed to go broke since the Willamette incident; the man is a failure and his life is in shambles. While competing on T.K.'s Terror is Reality show, Frank finally bottoms out and opts to get back to hardcore news coverage by exposing the dastardly underground of T.K.'s world.

Off the Record's opening moments suggest a wildly different game might be in store. A zombie outbreak occurs after Frank ends his Terror is Reality wrestling match. Armed with his trusty camera, Frank is funneled through a haunted house of survivors being murdered left and right. That happened in Chuck's game as well, but Frank's trademark camera spins the sequence on its heels. The escape turns from bloodlust to Pokémon Snap, with death occurring all around and broadcasting Pulitzer-worthy money shots that are only available for a precious few moments. Whipping the camera out and trying to capture the best possible shot was pretty fun, and called to mind the only asset Dead Rising 2-proper lacked; Frank's camera. Its ability to capture pictures featuring drama/horror/erotica/brutality was a really fun mechanic and a great way to earn experience points (PP).

I thought maybe all of Off the Record would be similarly remixed. And I was wrong. Almost instantly Frank lands right in Chuck's shoes and we're expected to think they fit perfectly. The Fortune City geography is almost unchanged. Frank needs Zombrex every twenty four hours. The route to the safe house still has that agonizing hallway and, yes, every time I went back there I defaulted to my trusty nail bat + knife gloves + orange juice refresh. Very, very little has technically changed in Off the Record. The addition of a camera brings a couple missions where Frank has to photograph someone doing something incriminating, but is otherwise dropped in without much thought. Sure, there's a ton of potential for playing in Fortune City’s sandbox by photographing a myriad of bonkers situations, but it hasn't conformed to any new mold and feels like it could have easily been a part of Dead Rising 2 proper. In fact, it feels like Dead Rising 2 was already equipped for it.

The largest addition to Fortune City is...a large addition to Fortune City. An entirely new area sandwiched between the Fortune City Hotel and the Atlantica Casino is the Uranus Zone, and it's actually pretty good. Within its outer-space theme are all sorts of carnival rides ripe for zombie murder humiliation. There are also a set of booth games (like hitting a baseball against a target or throwing a severed zombie hand in a hungry mouth) that Frank can play for $500 a pop. There are also lockers for all the new missing keys found throughout Fortune City. Other additions to Off the Record include a bunch of new items and a host of new combo cards. Yep, Frank has Chuck's knack for absurd item combinations. My favorite of the new crop involved a mask and some gems that resulted in Frank being able to shoot lasers out of his eyes, but it's hard to go wrong with any of them.

In a non scientific estimation, I'd venture to guess 90% of Off the Record is identical to Dead Rising 2. A handful of survivors have relocated; Royce and Walter, for example, moved from the Silver Strip to the new Uranus Zone but have the same joke/trophy shtick going for them. Europa still required her savior to be wearing underwear, but rather than change at my base of operations I had to find underwear on a mannequin and put that on. Stat buffing magazine's seem to have changed places, two new psychos are present (and detailing them would rob much of the surprise Off the Record actually has), the end-game has been reworked, loading times are claimed to be faster, a few new survivors are in play, and some missions pop up in a different order, but the vast majority of Off the Record felt like I was replaying the game from a year ago.

Unfortunately Capcom Vancouver (formerly Blue Castle Games) also decided to play with Dead Rising's most divisive asset; the save system. Dead Rising has always functioned on a moving 72 hour timeline where side missions have a finite window before they expire and main missions can end a game if they're not resolved in time. It brought tremendous pressure on the player, but added a sense of consequence to your actions - one that is undoubtedly absent from a majority of games today. The original Dead Rising had a single save slot, but the sequel was a bit more forgiving in offering a handful. Off the Record boasts those, along with checkpoints.

I adored how Dead Rising 2 played for keeps and actually managed some measure of difficulty without coddling a larger market with an easier game, but Capcom Vancouver apparently bent a knee in search of greater appeal by checkpointing Frank every time he exists a building or fights a boss. It can also spell disaster, as I learned when I fought Seymour with low health and no healing items and he kept wasting the survivors I had in tow, sending my checkpoint'd game into an infinite repeating hell from which reloading a save was the only means escape. I suppose you don't have to use checkpoints and can rely on saves anyway, but something about it felt disingenuous to Dead Rising's mission. Damned if you do and damned if you don't, I guess, but I favored the former.

A sandbox mode has replaced the Terror is Reality multiplayer modes from Dead Rising 2. Sandbox is actually really cool. It drops Frank into Fortune City with no plot attached and basically lets him go nuts over the town. All of the items are in place and survivors and psychopaths stalk the streets ready for battle - all without the restriction of a clock. Better yet, Fortune City has been littered with solo and co-op challenges like killing zombies with a certain method/time limit or hunting for as many dildos as Frank can find in ninety seconds. Bronze, silver, or gold medals can be earned and translated into PP. I think the challenges would have been better served if they were all open from the start rather than behind a "kill __ zombies to unlock" barrier, but going up and down the silver strip creating carnage in a slice-cycle isn't a bad way to kill time.

The best part of sandbox is all money, keys, and experience unlocked in sandbox stays with Frank in the main game - and you're free to switch between the two on the same save file. If nothing else, sandbox mode finally provides an incentive to actually make all the cool weapon combinations. In the main game I always preferred efficiency over experimenting with outlandish collection of potential weapons, but in sandbox, with all the time in the world, I was free to make whatever I wanted without penalty.

Editor reviews

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a textbook definition of a director's cut. Those enjoying it for the first time won't know the difference, those who disliked it won't care, and those who loved the original will be split down the middle in their appreciation of a reworked interpretation. I value the return of photography, the new area is neat, and the addition of sandbox mode is what everyone actually wanted, but with all of that buried under old content I question Off the Record's necessity as a retail product.
Overall rating 
 
6.8
Gameplay 
 
7.0
Presentation 
 
7.0
Value  
 
6.0
Fun Factor 
 
7.0
Tilt 
 
7.0
Eric Layman Reviewed by Eric Layman October 12, 2011
Last updated: October 12, 2011
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (268)

Dead Rising 2: Off The Record

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a textbook definition of a director's cut. Those enjoying it for the first time won't know the difference, those who disliked it won't care, and those who loved the original will be split down the middle in their appreciation of a reworked interpretation. I value the return of photography, the new area is neat, and the addition of sandbox mode is what everyone actually wanted, but with all of that buried under old content I question Off the Record's necessity as a retail product.

Videogames

Gameplay
The addition of checkpoints weakens Dead Rising's signature challenge but potentially expands its appeal. Photography is a welcomed addition and fits perfectly into the existing framework. And, you know, everything else from last time.
Presentation
Props are in order for redubbing character dialogue to match a new protagonist, and the twists upon the original narrative are fun. Still, Off the Record lacks creativity in Mad Lib’ing Frank through the original narrative.
Value
$40 is the standard for budget pricing, but Off the Record would have been an easier pill to swallow as downloadable content or a cheaper, downloadable game. In the end, it still feels like a year old game.
Fun Factor
If the shoe fits, wear it. But what if it’s worn out?
Was this review helpful to you? 
 

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.

Already have an account?
Ratings (the higher the better)
  • Gameplay
    How did the game play? Controls, functionality, etc.
  • Presentation
    How were the soundtrack, visuals, menus, attitude, etc?
  • Value
    Was the game worth the money?
  • Fun Factor
    Was it fun? Was it not?
  • Tilt
    This is your chance to skew the score outside of the stated categories.
Videogames
Comments
Please enter the security code.
 

Comments

S5 Box

Login Form

Other Stuff