When the classic horror film Night of the Living Dead first hit the cinemas in 1968, legendary director George A. Romero introduced audiences around the world to the phenomenon of zombie flicks. As decades passed the genre continued to grow immensely, expanding from movies and books to video games. Successful titles like Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, and Dead Island continued to feed the massive following behind the popular medium. While Capcom enjoyed great success with the launch of Dead Rising 2 back in October 2010, the company felt the need to recreate the experience from a different point of view. The end result is a title called Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. Can this game garner the same amount of interest the second time around? Keep reading to find out.
Dead Rising 2: Off The Record is a faithful recreation of all the events of the Fortune City Outbreak through the eyes of wisecracking photojournalist Frank West. After the cancellation of his television show and the loss of millions, Frank finds himself at the lowest part of his life. He ultimately decides to participate in the dangerous Terror Is Reality Game Show to massacre zombies and regain fame and fortune. Shortly after the contest, a zombie outbreak occurs and Frank finds himself in the middle of a controversy he aims to solve. Overall, the gameplay in Off The Record offers three dynamic set pieces that are varied slightly apart from Dead Rising 2.
First and Foremost, bringing back Frank West also reestablishes the element of using photography as a tool to progress through the game. Players are rewarded with Prestige Points (PP) for taking photographs of different areas of interest throughout Fortune City. Important areas are clearly indicated by the black and white camera icons that are strategically placed in certain spaces. You can also use the camera to capture the essence of certain situations in their entirety. Photos are graded on a scale of how much Horror, Drama, Erotica, and Brutality are in them. Maxing out all these areas within a snapshot will also earn you extra PP and help you to level up quicker.
Secondly, Off The Record offers some new additions to the settings, enemies, and combo weapons. Among the most noticeable of the bunch is Fortune City’s newest theme park, Uranus Zone. Scaled to perfection and full of deadly rides and attractions, the sci-fi themed amusement park becomes a tool for both discovery and decimation. The idea of using certain rides as zombie-killing mechanisms is fun, but all too short. It would be great to see more of these ideas played around with in future installments of the title. As for the new psychopaths and weapon choices, most are unique to Frank’s badass persona and thus succeed in giving the feel of this being a new game.
Lastly, Off The Record boasts an impressive new feature called Sandbox Mode. This is a free reign roaming mode that allows you to enjoy the full gameplay experience of Dead Rising without having to worry about side missions and time limits. Cooperative play is encouraged as one player can request to join your game at anytime. In addition to taking photos to earn PP, you are also given the opportunity to compete in timed challenges throughout various sections of Fortune City.
Challenges can include anything from killing a certain amount of zombies in a particular time frame to safely navigating from one checkpoint to another. The reward for the completion of a challenge is performance based allowing you to receive either a bronze, silver, or gold medal and bragging rights among a robust online leaderboard.
The only flaw that I would point out about this feature is the lack of character choices in general. When playing cooperatively, the other player can only be Chuck and given the amount of cast members in the campaign this seems incomplete. If you decide to play this mode first, you can level up your character and enter story mode with some combat skills already unlocked. Overall, this feature is one that fans have been requesting for quite a while and I’m glad they managed to make it a part of this package.
Off The Record’s story mode greatly differentiates from that of Dead Rising 2. While Motocross sensation Chuck Greene’s quest to investigate the conspiracy stemmed from his desire to clear his name, Frank’s only aim is to reclaim his celebrity status and help others out in the process. When you also add the fact that Chuck had an infected daughter who was dependent upon him to succeed, one can’t help but feel that the lack of emotional pull in this game’s story pales in comparison.
Giving certain characters a deeper sense of importance and meaning always gains a powerful emotional response from the audience. While Off The Record may lack a little of this, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this game is still fun to play. Chances are if you’re a fan of Frank West then story won’t matter to you quite as much as it would to someone else.
Dead Rising 2: Off The Record is a superb zombie slashing experience from beginning to end. If for any reason you didn’t get to play the original Dead Rising 2, then picking up this title at it’s reduced price of $39.99 should be a no brainer. The story remains cheesy, but fun while the Sandbox mode alone will have you playing for hours on end.
This review was based on a retail copy of the game for the Xbox 360 provided by Capcom.