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Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Review

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On 01/02/2012 at 03:00 PM by Nick DiMola

He's covered wars, y'know!

Those who have never played Dead Rising 2 should strongly consider Off the Record as it is a better version of the original game, but they must understand that it completely disposes of the game's proper story. If you already have Dead Rising 2, you can safely skip this entry, unless you consider yourself a diehard fan.

Over a year ago, Capcom released the original Dead Rising 2. It starred brand new protagonist Chuck Greene, a character I actually liked. Unlike Frank West, he had a backstory worth caring about, as well as a personality befitting of a hero. In an effort to protect his daughter and deliver her the Zombrex she so desperately needed, he saved dozens of lives and uncovered the origins of the zombie outbreak in Fortune City. For whatever reason, fans didn't like Chuck Greene much and Capcom has since taken strides to nearly write him out of the series. Off the Record goes as far as retelling the same story with Frank West in his place. Given that the retelling comes with a slew of upgrades and an entirely new mode, it's most definitely a better game; however, Frank West still doesn't resonate with me as a character, nor does his signature picture-taking ability as a gameplay mechanic.

Because Frank West is now at the center stage of the story, all of the original events have been slightly modified and some characters have been switched up to accommodate the changes. Like the original, there's still a need to consistently acquire Zombrex, with the exception that now it's for Frank rather than Katey. In this alternate story line, Chuck is now a psychopath after the death of Katey, taking the slice-cycle position that Leon Bell once occupied. Various other plot points have been altered to fit with Frank West as opposed to Chuck Greene. Putting aside my dislike of Frank West, it's interesting to see how Capcom managed to retcon him into the original story.

In terms of gameplay, Off the Record is essentially the same game as Dead Rising 2; you're still saving folks and killing massive amounts of zombies using any weapon in sight, though there are a few changes. As previously mentioned, you can once again take pictures, which will in turn net you prestige points (PP). PP is the game's equivalent of experience points, allowing Frank to hold more items and health, as well as become faster and stronger and learn new moves. The PP gained from picture-taking is mostly inconsequential, with most PP coming from rescuing survivors and defeating psychopaths. Only on rare occasions will the game force you to use the mechanic to complete a mission – making it more of an annoyance than a blessing, but I'm certain most series stalwarts will feel differently about the inclusion of the mechanic.

Not so much a new mechanic, but a further refinement of one, is the ability to see if survivors are within range to exit your current area and enter a new one. This takes any remaining guesswork out of escorting survivors, tightening the already much improved system.

Uranus Zone augments Fortune City, but the new area is plagued with problems, most notably, frame rate issues. For whatever reason, entering the area immediately results in a frame rate dip, which is a bit unforgivable considering it's the one new area on the map. It does house a few objectives, so you're forced to visit the area. Considering it's essentially an amusement park, it's an area I would've enjoyed visiting regardless, but given the problems, it's one that I avoid while making my way across the map.

Because Frank has been given an augmented arsenal of hand-to-hand combat moves, in co-op he is actually differentiated from Chuck, who retains the same move set from the original release. A big sticking point for me with the last game was a lack of local co-op play and that continues to be one in this release, as it has once again been omitted in favor of online co-op.

By far the greatest change from the original is the entirely new Sandbox Mode, which functions as a secondary quest. Various challenges are scattered about the map, allowing you to conquer them for PP. Because you are using your character from the main quest, the benefits achieved in each mode are interchangeable. Even better, players can maintain up to three save files -- a simple, but effective improvement from the last game.

While Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is most definitely an improvement from the original release of Dead Rising 2, it's not enough to transcend its ranking. The overall experience is nearly identical and the new additions will have varying mileage depending on the player. Sandbox Mode is somewhat interesting as a new mode, but it's shallow and lacking focus, making it largely disposable. Even at its value pricing, Off the Record is a hard sell for those who already own the original, but I can undoubtedly recommend that fans take the plunge on this one, especially if the Frank West character is appealing.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




04/01/2012 at 05:39 PM

I had sex with a dead body the other day.

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