Dead Rising 2: Off the Record

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

Frank West returns as the main protagonist in this re-imagining of Dead Rising 2.

Review Verdict Read Review
7Out of 10
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Dead Rising 2: Off the Record screenshot
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record screenshot

In Sandbox play, you have all the time in the world to explore this new content. There's enough here to keep you occupied for ages, and yet the lack of urgency strangely robs the experience of any real meaning. The creative zombie slaughter never gets old, but somehow it seems more fun to do these things when you're supposed to be doing something important, like rescuing a helpless young woman or stopping a casino heist.

One of the key quirks of Dead Rising is the fact that the game routinely tempted to go off the beaten track, even though this can be disastrous. It's simply less fun to mess about when there's nothing at stake; it's like bunking off school when you're already on half term. Sort of.

It's the Story mode, then, that persists as the main attraction. Thanks to the fact that you can power level and gather cash in Sandbox mode and then re-import the data back into Story, it's all but impossible to screw up your progress with a "bad" save; veterans of the first Dead Rising will remember that this wasn't always the case. Capcom has finally seen fit to include a waypoint marker, making it a good deal easier to get about the map, and this time you also get a checkpointing system that comes to the rescue on the rare occasions when you get cocky and forget to manually save.

Purists and longtime fans of the series may turn their noses up at these concessions, but the bottom line is that this is the most accessible Dead Rising yet. That said, this is still a game that stubbornly refuses to explain some of its most important systems, and one that seems hell-bent on spoiling your fun at select moments. To put it another way, you'll still need a Painkiller cocktail (two identical spirits, blended together) and Knife Gloves (Boxing Gloves and a Bowie Knife, fused at a workstation) to have a chance of beating most of the bosses. Even when you're well acquainted with the game's most useful secrets, you may still find yourself struggling against the harder psychopaths.

It's also worth stating that while it's brilliant to have Frank in the leading role - older and wrinklier, but still utterly badass despite his bad back - the plot doesn't really make an awful lot of sense with him as the hero. That's not a huge problem, since narrative isn't really one of the game's strong suits in the first place, but it's certainly another reason why a newcomer might plump for the vanilla version of Dead Rising 2, rather than this re-cut edition. Off the Record can be pre-ordered for about £20 at the time of writing, but last year's game can be found for a tenner if you shop around.

Besides, you'll probably get more out of Off the Record's knowing humour if you've already played through Chuck Greene's story. The story is largely the same, but it's surprisingly entertaining to watch how Frank reacts to things differently. He's sardonic, fairly seedy, and he has a receding hairline - in short, he's a far cry from your standard video game hero. If you know Dead Rising 2 inside out, you'll also be pleased by the few occasions where Off the Record remixes the plot, as there are one or two surprises waiting amid the repurposed material.

But does all this enough justify another £20 if you already own last year's effort? No, probably not. That's the chief problem with Dead Rising 2: Off the Record: it's perfectly enjoyable, but it's hard to know who it's for. Newcomers can get by with the original, and old hands have played most of it before. If you're a massive fan of the series - and of Frank West in particular - it's still worth picking this up, but even at twenty notes, there's little to make this an urgent purchase.

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Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Hoody Hoo - the first costume DLC has been announced - Cyborg Frank!

http://www.capcom-europe.com/blog/20...a-vista-frank/

I love this game so much! :D
Posted 17:45 on 17 October 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ Ghost_Dog

The Sandbox Mode makes levelling up/earning money - both of which are transferred to the single-player campaign - much easier, and the challenges provide a fun means of getting to know the various weapons, and the benefits/drawbacks of each.

The story seems much more interesting - and although it provides plenty of 'Oh! I see...!' moments when compared to DR2, it makes sense as a standalone chapter.

I am glad that both the combo card/photography systems are both woven into the game, and the selection of handmade weapons/extra area give DR2:OTR very much the edge, in my estimation. I'll send Wido over to give his opinion, but both times we played have just been filled with laughter.
Posted 19:51 on 14 October 2011
Ghost_Dog's Avatar

Ghost_Dog

I've never played any of the Dead Rising games, despite my interest in them (not having an Xbox 360 to play the original has also contributed to this).

I never got the second game, mainly because I've been told that it has some rather unforgiving game mechanics.

However, I like the sound of Off the Record, mainly due the inclusion of the sandbox mode and the improved checkpoint system.

Is Off the Record a good starting point for a weary gamer?
Posted 19:07 on 14 October 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Going from the first hour, the story in Off the Record seems *much* more interesting than vanilla DR2. And it seems a little trickier as well - the zombies do seem more vicious (especially in damaging other survivors), and Frank does feel much less nimble (given his girth).

The photo mechanics are much improved from the original Dead Rising.

All in all, a damned good purchase, which I think new users might find better than vanilla DR2. Although it is nice seeing the story from a completely different perspective.
Posted 15:26 on 13 October 2011
dazzadavie's Avatar

dazzadavie

Great review Neon.
I didn't get on with DR1 but love DR2 and the mini ones too. Very interestd in picking this up next year.
Thinking of putting DR2 back in now
Posted 13:14 on 11 October 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ guyderman

I did, of course, mean Case Zero to begin with - my bad, sorry ;) That's the 'prequel'.

Case West is the 'mini-sequel', but also probably a good introduction to the camera mechnics for Off the Record...

And the main games do have co-op, which led to some amazing gaming sessions (and are also useful to show/be shown where useful caches of loot can be found)! :D
Posted 11:29 on 11 October 2011
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ Clockpunk

I'll give the demo a blast and see how I get on with it, cheers mate.
Posted 11:26 on 11 October 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ guyderman

I certainly enjoyed DR2 a lot more than the first game - possibly because of the weapon creation. I hope there is a lot more than just a 'smattering' of new combo cards...

Exploration is key to the game, and finding a hidden useful weapon/combo part where you least expect it - and remembering that at a crucial time, is a hugely important part of the game, I found.

Guyderman, have you tried the demo for Case West, at least, on Live Arcade? I would thoroughly recommend giving that a go, if nothing else... that saw pretty much universal praise as a slice of DR2-representative action

Either way, I make no secret of the fact that I have been looking forward to this, but do think it could have been a few sep. DLC packs (new area and combo cards, Frank & Camera Mechanic, Sandbox Mode...) but that would probably have been the same price, sooo...
Posted 11:02 on 11 October 2011
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

Yeah, I think that's what everyone does on their first time. I know that's what happened to me, at any rate.

This game (and standard DR2) are less abrasive at first, though the bosses will still destroy you at first. Have some fun, level up and find weapons (and cocktails) that you like, and you'll enjoy it a lot more.

Or give it a go in co-op. Clockpunk and I have been talking about playing that way at some point....

*EDIT* And you weren't doing anything wrong; the jeep guys are notoriously hard to deal with. DR2 has a similar enemy, but he's easier to avoid.
Posted 10:58 on 11 October 2011
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ mydeaddog

I think that's the problem. I was trying to get on and 'do' the story and it was just so overwhelming from the get go that I felt like I was failing miserably.
Like I said I think over the next drought I'll give it a good bash, and certainly take your advice, just have some fun with it, get to know it and then take up the challenge!

I remember with the first one, (it's been a few years now), that it was them B@st@rds in the Jeep in the courtyard that did it for me - I got hammered everytime I went out there - so frustrating - I must have been doing something seriously wrong - lol!
Posted 10:25 on 11 October 2011
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog@ Wido

No, I don't think we're there yet. It's another step in the right direction, certainly - although they'd better not make it any easier, or they'll lose many of the key qualities that made the series interesting in the first place.

They'll get there, though. As long as they can think of another decent setting for the next one, that is.

@guyderman: There's a definite learning curve to the games. If you find the main game too taxing at first, it's a good idea to simply play and dick about for a bit, then restart. You'll level up, and more importantly you'll learn where all the cool stuff is.

As I said in the review, it's still not a series that's particularly friendly to beginners. You have to learn the secrets, and then when you're part of the club you'll get the most out of it...
Posted 10:08 on 11 October 2011
Vroom's Avatar

Vroom

Hi guys!

I actually coded the free iOS app to accompany this:

http://bit.ly/ShotByFrank

Check it out if you get a minute. Thanks. !:)
Posted 10:01 on 11 October 2011
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

I really wish I could get into this series - it screams of nothing but fun and appears to be everything I should like in a game - and yet I just couldn't get into either of them.
Might try again over the next gaming drought as I really want to like them godammit!
Posted 09:57 on 11 October 2011
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Good read Neon. I'm actually looking forward to get my hands on this game to be honest. The sandbox mode opens up "do the hell what you want" without worrying about time or health issues, of course health, but none of the "eat food to replenish health" such as the first.

Something from the Dead Rising 2 review:

"It's a worthy sequel in many ways, but despite all the innovative weapon combinations, Dead Rising 2 suggests that Capcom has yet to find its perfect blend."

Off The Record doesn't hit that note?
Posted 09:18 on 11 October 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
7
Out of 10
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
  • As fun as ever
  • Frank West is still a badass
  • Who is this really for?
  • Shares the same annoyances as last year's version
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 14/10/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Action
No. Players: 1-2
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 1,684
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