You may have noticed that this review (which will most likely end up being much shorter than the norm you may have grown semi-accustomed to from myself) is not about Dead Rising 2 by itself, but instead the more recent and updated edition of the game- Off the Record. As has already been said and pretty much mutually agreed on by just about everyone who ever has or will play another Dead Rising game, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a testament to just how far one character can go. In this case- above and beyond anything that fresh newbie to the zombie apocalypse Chuck Greene managed to accomplish in Dead Rising 2 on his own. Now that long time series champ Frank West is back in all (and more) of his camera and head bashing glory, we truly realize what it means to see the dead rise again…
For every new, better, or different thing that Chuck Greene may have done, not done, or otherwise accomplished while he had his first run through Fortune City, Frank West comes back like a bad meal to do twice as good on his way out. (Err, I don’t believe that was the correct quote- but I’ll continue as if I never said it…) Sure, Chuck never really got into all of that flashy photography and photo ops with madmen and psychopaths, but then again, could you ever truly blame him? He did optimize the awesome system of customizing insanely diabolical weapons and combo breakers however, which also makes quite a new and improved appearance in the game now, just as better- if not more so, than before. For everything that Chuck did and accomplished, just as he was merely a well-rounded and heartfelt character- Frank West is still everybody’s first love in the series for the most part, and he thus far strongly makes it seem as if he will be a mainstay or at least a walk-on for a few more games and quests yet…
The most interesting element of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record’s story mode is the fact that it revitalizes the entire Dead Rising 2 campaign by giving it new breath and life with a new character, fixing and tweaking the few things that went wrong the first time around, and modifying a few plot elements and design choices in order to make it feel fresh and as fast paced as ever instead of a mix tape repeat or cut and pasted design choice. With Frank reprising the main story’s lead role once more, and adding in some new places to explore and new modes that are better designed than the whole of the multiplayer ones of Dead Rising 2- innovative as they were, Off the Record secures its place in the zombie wrecking Hall of Game(s). (Err, fame?)
As already noted, the first thing that you should notice about Frank this time around is that he still retains one thing (other than his custom suit, as usual)- his camera. Throughout the entire story mode, frank can now use his camera to take as many photos as he wants- a step up from an older time when he needed countless batteries to ensure its longevity and lifespan didn’t dwindle to more than twenty percent or so. Now, with the addition of nearly endless photo possibilities, amounts of rewards and rankings for certain photos, mostly similar photo snapping mechanics, and more- Frank can get his groove and game on as well as bash in zombie skulls many times over.
New combo cards and even more weapon customization options should appeal to the hardcore fans and new gamers alike, as these make for an easier and more entertaining experience- should you be able to find those right items and tools to use. Workbenches work much the same as before, with a few new tweaks and boosts as well, merely for the sheer heck of things it seems. All in all, even this one aspect that made the second Dead Rising game so popular is improved in many ways- making it now almost no competition at all in regards to this game, unless you simply want to experience another story from Chuck’s point of view (other than the DLC packs such as Case Zero).
As mentioned previously, in regards to the new additions in the story mode and other campaign modes within the game you will find numerous new psychopathic mini-bosses and enemies to finish off with gusto, new and alien areas to explore, and much, much more. In fact, in terms of major areas, there is an entirely new themed amusement park setup completely for your benefit, where you can battle new alien-planet themed enemies and more. The fun truly never seems to end.
Remember the one major mode that- albeit innovative as it was, completely brought down a lot of Dead Rising 2’s highest gameplay parts and points? Yeah- so do I. The multiplayer online or local gameplay mode, Terror is Reality, has been completely revamped and pretty much packed away tightly within the story mode- making it less of an online feature and more of a mission. Which of course, is not only a much safer, beneficial, and fun way to do things- but also the much wiser way of things. The elements remain the same, the rewards just as great, and now the conspiracy is even greater than it seemed before- if at all possible.
Another great gameplay mode that makes a surprising return, and that couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is the addition of a new and improved Sandbox or freeplay mode. Not only is this completely open and available from the start (aside from the fact that certain missions within are closed to players until they reach a certain level, which was a much smarter way to go about things) but it is also included in one save file’s progressive saving along with the regular story mode and other settings. This means you do not have to fear misplacing or saving over other save slots this time around either. Oh, and there are absolutely no restrictions int his mode either- so have fun exploring and killing for as long as you would care to spend your time in Fortune City.
Within Sandbox mode’s ‘story’ or strategic lack thereof, you will find not missions or objectives- but mainly simple little goals and fun and interesting little challenges for you to try your hand and wits at. These range from a wide variety of things from ‘find this’, to ‘kill that’, and then some. The even better thing about these challenges is that- instead of hundreds of challenges overwhelming the player at the offset, they trickle in as you kill more and more of the undead, and thus give you a neverending stream of challenges to try your hand or head at whenever you get the chance. Even better is the fact that any and all kills and levels you obtain within the Sanbox mode and its challenges are completely interchangeable and usable within the story mode for your Frank West there. This means you can forget the sudden difficulty in certain parts of the game if you are an underleveled character, and simply spend a few hours in Sanbox mode before you are then ready to go- which saves you from otherwise having to restart the entire game all over again. In Sandbox mode, you can even have your cooperative friend- should you seek one, help you out and join in the zombie killing festivities as (not another Frank clone as in past games) Chuck Greene. This makes for the ultimate bonding experience and melds Dead Rising 2’s two games in one final way for sure.
Instead of merely being another version of the same game with the one difference being that the main characters are two separate and different people and beings entirely, Dead Rising 2: Off the record blazes a suprisingly new and innovative trail, as much as a fun and interesting one as well. If you are either planning on being a newcomer to the series and trying to figure out which game to start with, or you’ve played at least since either Dead Rising 1 and 2- then I encourage you to try your hand at this new and improved version, as it does everything Chuck could and then some. Cheers, Frank.
Concept: So, you have the same basic formula as the original Dead Rising 2 game but with a few tweaks as well as the surprise addition of a newcomer to the wiles of Fortune City in the form of the carefree series mainstay, Frank West- avid photographer and survivalist.
Graphics: The graphics are as usual for this game series, not always the best- but quite an amazing example of how many enemies and objects can be seen on screen at once, with often more than a thousand zombies knocking on your door at the same time.
Sound: From every meaty slash and thunk to each clang of a thrown football on a vending machine of a lawn dart to the helmeted war veteran, the game’s sounds really make it a unique and impressive experience.
Playabiltiy: Add in the upgraded photo-bombing formula of the first game along with any and all of Chuck’s skills and you’ve got a great match in Off the Record.
Entertainment: While the story is virtually the same this time around, it is still a blast to run through all over again without some of the prior constraints, and with the new playground available to players through the improved Sandbox mode.
Replay Value: Moderately High
Overall Score: 9.0