Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Review
I could've sworn I played this game before. Let's see... zombie-killing game show, Fortune City, and the same series of events unfolding. Does the main character have a daughter? No? Good, because for a second I thought I got the regular Dead Rising 2 instead of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a re-telling/re-envisioning of the Dead Rising 2 story, but this time it stars the original Dead Rising's main character, Frank West. Frank, the reporter that covered a few wars, was living the good life. He had fame, women, and money—until he didn't have any of that anymore. Now he's got a beer belly, obscene amounts of chest hair that shouldn't be seen in mesh tops, and a receding hairline—and not in the good Bruce Willis way.
I ain't sayin' she's a gold digga, but they ain't messin' with Frank West now that he's washed-up.
Frank has come to Fortune City to win some money on the zombie-slaying game show “Terror is Reality.” However, after an explosion sets the zombies loose, Frank tasks himself with getting survivors to the safe house and figuring out the cover-up behind this plot. It has all of the same characters from Dead Rising 2, including TK, Rebecca Chang, and Stacey Forsythe. It has the same exact city and locations. However, there are some new features and some changes that should be noted.
The story differs in a few ways so it fits with the Frank West storyline. Don't be fooled, though. Events will still happen like they did in Dead Rising 2. The biggest change to the story is that Frank needs to take a dose of Zombrex every 24 hours since he is infected. So you'll spend some of your time earning money to buy a dose of it from loot shops around Fortune City or hope you just stumble upon some. Fortune City also has a new area—Uranus Zone, which is a sci-fi theme park with rides, costumes, and weapons that fit the theme. It adds some new fun, but nothing that makes this game an entirely different experience from the last. Off the Record also features the photography element from the first Dead Rising.
The best way to battle Fortune City female zombies is to throw cash at them.
You're still able to combine weapons to make customized killing machines. You'll unlock recipes as you progress through the game. You have a power drill—imagine what you can combine it with! You can also throw gems and poker chips at enemies. It won't hurt them, but you'll get a few laughs out of it. Also, you'll be taunted by the sports car sitting in the middle of the casino that keeps telling you that you don't have the keys to drive it. The keys are $1,000,000; have fun grinding for that. The story still has timed quests, and there's no way to fit them all in. If you want to experience all the quests, it will most likely require multiple playthroughs.
The best new feature is the Sandbox Mode. In this Mode, there is no story to follow. You play the game for money and challenges. You unlock more challenges as you defeat more and more zombies. The challenges have you getting to a location in a set amount of time, killing a certain number of zombies within a minute, and getting a crowd of zombies together—to name a few. You can also compare yourself to other players' performance through leaderboards, which adds a nice competitive aspect.
Look at that tall glass of water.
The great thing about this is that all of the money and PP you gain in Sandbox Mode carries over to your Story Mode save file. Need Zombrex but you're short of money and time? Enter the Sandbox Mode and powerlevel your PP and money. It's also nice to not have to worry about your quests expiring if you just want to mess around. Also, the save feature was revamped from the last game, and checkpoints were added.
There is an online co-op mode that lets two players play through the Story Mode or Sandbox Mode together, with one of the players playing as Frank West and the other as Chuck Greene. It's not amazing, but if you always wanted to run through hordes of undead with friend, this is your opportunity to do so. Little tip, good luck in single player when you come across Chuck Greene.
Graphically, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is nothing to write home about, but it works for the game. The textures can look really dated if you compare it to other games, but it has that Dead Rising feel to it. There are tons of loading screens, and often they seem to be useless. I don't need to see a loading screen, then a four second cutscene of Frank exiting an air vent, then another loading screen to be able to play in the next area. That being said, if you've played Dead Rising 2 you will notice a large improvement of loading times. Though if you skipped out on the last game, expect to be annoyed. The sounds and voice-acting have remained the same, and the controls feel clunky at times. Combat is just pressing the attack button over and over, so if you're new to the series, don't expect a robust fighting experience. You'll see the same death-blow animation for a certain weapon over, and over, and over.
Overall, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a fun, humorous experience, but it feels like a missed opportunity to take the beloved Frank West and come up with something new for him. It's a nice buy if you're a huge Dead Rising fan or haven't played Dead Rising 2. I just don't fully see the point in using the same game with a different main character.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]
You can follow Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ