Dead Rising 2: Off the Record

6.0 Overall Score

Written by on October 21, 0201 in [, ]

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a weird game. It isn’t weird because of its blend of zombies and Japan, but because of what Capcom’s doing with it in this iteration. They’ve made a number of very odd departures from the core of the previous games.

I’ve written before about how I largely consider the Dead Rising series a kind of character action Rogue like. That aspect and the addition of escort missions and timers has been the barrier that kept me away from this series over and over again. While I own Dead Rising 2, I have spent roughly an hour of my time with it playing story mode; the rest has been spent in online co-op, where I don’t have to worry about quests ending poorly and bad endings.

Based on that alone, most people (myself included) would say that Dead Rising games simply aren’t for me. I can get my free-roaming zombie murder on in Left 4 Dead, Dead Island, and even go all Western-style with the Red Dead Redemption expansion. But apparently Capcom wants to meet us half-way on this whole brutal difficulty/timed mission thing. Because now there’s sandbox mode.

Sandbox mode is literally just what it sounds like. You, the Dead Rising 2 map, tens of thousands of zombies, and every crazy broken weapon combination in the world. Seriously, I had a laser sword and paddlesaw made and access to two different sport bikes within minutes of starting this out. If you’re me, this is basically immediate access to everything you wanted in Dead Rising, without worrying about Zombrex or other stuff. It almost feels like a cheat mode for the core game, and it’s available right from the start or at any time from the load game menu.

There’s even weird bizarro-versions of most of the NPCs in the game, who’ll engage in psycho-style fights with you. While the psychos were generally a source of non-fun in Dead Rising 2 (and this version offers even more in the main story), their inclusion in sandbox mode is forgivable simply because there isn’t a lot of consequence for dying. The only progress you’ll lose in this mode is your zombies killed count, which unlocked challenges.

Challenges are basically the return of the weird multi-player minigame mode from Dead Rising 2, only in the mall. Each is a 30-60 second game, which usually involves hilariously murdering zombies in some way. Occasionally it’ll be something more mundane like just luring zombies to a stage. Beyond online leaderboards the only real reward for these challenges is cash, and of course sweet, sweet PP from the zombie murder.

PP, Cash, and leveling is where Off the Record does a lot right. Character level (based off of PP) and cash carry over between both game modes (as well as the full co-op option for both) seamlessly, which means you can avoid that restart option by grinding out a couple levels of hilarious zombie murder in the sandbox, then returning to your quest. Leveling was never a huge hardship in Dead Rising, but being able to do it without watching the intro cutscene and doing the same first quests again is nice.

The campaign itself is kind of screwy in Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. Most of the plot points are mirrored, but now Frank West is the star of the show as a kind of B-list celebrity sleazebag trying to get back on top of things. He guests on TK’s TV show, takes some photos, and then zombies. That’s pretty much what you need for the story. There’s some new dialogue, but most of the story beats are identical (allowing for a huge number of recycled assets from Dead Rising 2), with West being generally disliked for…well, no good reason. But he’s kind of a sleazebag, so it works.

All of this sounds kind of weird and convoluted, and that’s what I get from Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. There’s a full campaign in here, with online co-op, and that’s pretty awesome. Sandbox mode with a little more structure would work as a full game on its own, and evokes some of the absurd glee I used to get from free roam mode in GTA IV. So you should totally buy this, right?

…I guess? Functionally this is Dead Rising 2 plus photos Frank West can also build combo weapons. Because screw Chuck, that’s why! Beyond some optimization (load times are a bit shorter…a bit) the game looks, sounds, and plays just like Dead Rising 2, right down to running your train of survivors through the vents to safety. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record wasn’t an affront to the eyes, and seeing dozens of zombies on screen at once is awesome, but this is essentially a repackaged and expanded version of a year old game. Something about it evokes the same feel I got out of the Duke Nukem boxed sets that came with level packs.

Bottom line, under $40 is awesome for the amount of content here. A repackaged Dead Rising 2 is great for folks who never spent time with the first, and I could see the co-op eating a lot of time here. But stacking this up against the fall releases, or even the currently available Dead Island? Even at $40 that might be a stretch. People should definitely play (or try) Dead Rising games. That doesn’t have to be right now, though Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a great way to dip your toes into the series and see what it’s all about now.

A copy of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record was provided to The Married Gamers for review.


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Author: Zach Snell View all posts by
Hi there. If you're reading this you've probably read some material of mine. If you want more go here and read my stories about a guy who punches wizards.

One Comment on "Dead Rising 2: Off the Record"

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