Like the shambling undead that inhabit a few of the more popular Capcom franchises, Dead Rising 2: Off the record rises from the dead and repackages itself as a whole new adventure with a familiar protagonist, while tossing in a few more options, challenges and modes for fans of the series.
But can Dead Rising 2: Off The Record munch its way back into our hearts, or should this game have remained six feet under? Read on to find out.
Players will find themselves once again in Fortune City, during yet another mass zombie outbreak with touches of conspiracy and paranoia woven into the mix, but instead of playing as extreme sports zombie slayer Chuck Greene, they’ll be hoofing it through the infested casinos and malls as the original Dead Rising hero, Chuck West.
Chuck hasn’t had the best luck as of late, as his canny spin of the events from the original game, used to garner him hero-worship, network and book deals, has all gone straight down the crapper, reducing the infamous crusading journalist into a washed-up has-been who fights zombies for quick cash.
After a particularly bloody bout on the show, Terror is Reality, West soon finds himself in the thick of the Fortune City zombie outbreak, while also pursuing leads, a ticket which West see’s as a chance to once again become famous and get back into the game.
Anyone familiar with the Dead Rising games will feel instantly at home with Off The Record, as it plays as an almost exact carbon copy of last years sequel, save for some tweaks and modifications here and there.
The storyline is now built around West and his crazy case-files, but still plays out the same, while the emotional attachment of keeping Chuck Greene’s daughter alive with Zombrex injections is ditched, as West needs to keep himself uninfected or risk receiving a bullet in the face while in the safehouse.
West and his camera are back, taking pictures in a variety of genres, that are rated and then processed into experience points. Players can snap pics according to topics such as horror, gore and erotica, with points being awarded that are higher depending on the clarity and creativity of the snapped pics.
Frank also has a repertoire of familiar moves that have been gleaned from both games, such as his trusty karate-chop, a jump-kick to quickly clear crowds and a handy roll to dodge past the mindless undead, with more moves being unlocked as he levels up in the light-RPG modes further in the game.
Frank can also Macguyver together new weapons, much like Chuck Greene did last year, cobbling up tools that range from useful to insane, such as a spike baseball bat or a motorcycle with chainsaws, with numerous combinations available that keep the gore factor at an all-time high.
Fortune City is just as players remember it, with the occasional new human psychopath enemy, as well as the addition of the Uranus theme park area, which opens up a whole new area to explore and eviscerate in.
The primary game structure is still intact however, making use of a trial and error gameplay system that will see players take on the new game+ option multiple times in order to experience the multiple endings and options available.
It’s still a somewhat frustrating experience, as the checkpoint system never wants to save at the right time, resulting in players having to slog through zombies time and again in order to save at a restroom, while having to restart numerous times thanks to one unbeatable boss character, requiring some grinding and weapon-customising in order to defeat.
While such events on their own aren’t actually terrible, its the manner in DR2:OTR ambushes players with them that makes the so unbearably annoying at times, and the unforgiving nature of the gameplay punishes errors severely while offering little to no reward for good choices and preparation.
If things do become too difficult however, a flexible online co-op mode is available, which allows you to tag-team with a friend against the zombie population. Be aware however, that only the host will make any progress on the story mode, with your partner being left behind to receive no such benefit when he returns to his own game.
For those gamers fed up with time-limits and mission objectives, DR2:OTR now also features a sandbox mode, which strips the game down to one massive playground in which they can experiment and kill to their hearts content.
Challenges are dotted around Fortune City, requiring players to murder their way through to a set number of zombie hordes, and paying out loads more cash than usual so that gamers can better equip themselves at shops, but it quickly becomes tired and boring, with the zombie corpses piling up too quickly to even manage to maintain some level of excitement during all the mayhem.
Flexible and intriguing, DR2:OTR hasn’t changed too much from the original sequel, adding instead of dropping any moves that players can use. The tight time-limit still presents a unique challenge that will prompt multiple replays, but the occasional ambush boss and unwinnable situation tends to make this feature more annoying than exciting, which could cause quite a few rage-quits.
Still, the weapon-customisation option is still loads of fun, and the new additions featured make for some truly mind-bending scenarios and ideas.
Design and Presentation: 7/10
What DR2:OTR lacks in visual polish, it more than makes up for in terms of sheer numbers. Fortune City may be massive, but the amount of zombies shambling around make for one congested hell-hole.
With the game engine rendering at full-speed, it is amazing to see so much going at any one time, with the gameplay hardly ever missing a frame of action. Likewise with the voice-over cast, the acting is top-notch and convincing, selling the B-Movie cheesiness that DR2:OTR is permeated with.
For those who have played Dead Rising 2 already, there’s little justification to actually go out and buy this game. Despite a few cosmetic tweaks, Off The Record is essentially a remixed and repackaged version of the original sequel.
Newcomers with a hardy constitution and resistance to punishing gameplay who enjoy a challenge will get a kick out of this , especially if they’re zombie genre fans, with the new sandbox mode appealing to those gamers who really do have nothing better to do than kill the undead for hour after repetitive hour.
Essentially the same game, Off the Record attempts to remix everything that made the first two games popular into one package, but for those of us who have already experienced the unique gameplay, its too little too late.
Zombie-fans who have yet to experience Dead Rising will get a kick out of this title, provided that they can overlook several gameplay issues and bugs that seem to have remained in this discounted expansion pack.
Last Updated: November 7, 2011