Dead Rising: Off The Record Review
I was only kind of into the original Dead Rising. While I thought that the time limit was a challenging restriction that added genuine tension, and who can argue with GTA + Zombies! – the save system, stupid AI, ridiculous protagonist and pointless, boring missions made for an ultimately terrible gaming experience. Last year’s Dead Rising 2 improved on Dead Rising somewhat, notably by introducing the sick game show we know for a fact would be made reality if zombies ever actually turned out to exist, and the concept of anti-zombie medication Zombrex, but DR2 it retained enough of what I didn’t like about the original that I could barely bring myself to finish it.
Even so, I really wanted to love Dead Rising 2: Off The Record. Red Dead Redemption proved that the GTA + Zombies concept, when done right, makes for a fantastic game. Off The Record was supposed to have a few new tricks that promised or, at least pinky-swore, that this might be the fun Dead Rising game I’ve been waiting for. Unfortunately, even the surprisingly excellent Sandbox Mode couldn’t overcome the continuation of the series’ congenital problems.
Dead Rising 2: Off The Record
Platforms: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 [Reviewed]
Developer: Capcom and Blue Castle
Released: Oct. 11, 2011
MSRP: $40.00 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
As befits a cheap $40.00 cash-in, Dead Rising 2: Off The Record is not Dead Rising 3. Think of it as Dead Rising: Brotherhood if that makes things clearer. It’s a re-imagined version of the plot of Dead Rising 2 with original Dead Rising protagonist Frank West in place of Chuck Greene. Set in Vegas analogue Fortune City, Frank is somewhat down on his luck after the events of the first game and is reduced to participating in Terror Is Reality, the game show from Dead Rising 2 in which people compete to kill zombies for money.
The plot largely follows DR2, as a massive city-wide zombie outbreak interrupts the game and the non-infected must fight to survive. Frank, in place of Chuck Greene, must find out what caused the outbreak and put a stop to it before the military arrives in three days to basically nuke the city.
Changes from Dead Rising 2, in addition to Frank West, include new missions and cut scenes, the return of annoying photo missions from Dead Rising, and an official Sandbox mode. Also, in place of Chuck Greene’s infected daughter who requires regular doses of the Zombrex drug to keep from turning, now Frank West is revealed to be infected.
If you’ve already played Dead Rising 2 in its original form, then the story mode won’t have too many surprises to you. Yes, there are new missions and cut scenes, but you’ll interact with characters from DR2, and the endings are similar. You also have to complete the stupid photography missions that made the first game feel so tedious at times. The game retains the time limit from previous games; you’ll have 3 days of game time to complete objectives and resolve the plot before the military comes to destroy everything. Because Frank is infected, you’ll need to periodically locate Zombrex to keep from turning. Luckily, once you find Zombrex you can just take it, making for a much less annoying fetch quest than having to constantly deliver the drug to Greene’s daughter in DR2.
Zombie killing remains as awesome as ever. You grab whatever you can find lying around – hammers, cabinets, cardboard boxes, stuffed animals, etc – and swing it at the nearest zombie. Blood splatters, the undead moan and all is well with the world. There are also some amazing weapons you’ll eventually get to use. Adding to that is the sense of humor that always stays just on this side of ‘too obvious’. Funny weapons, costumes and the like keep things laughable and fun, at least until you start getting bored.
Frank West remains the same unlikeable ass he was in Dead Rising, albeit a humbled, down-on-his-luck version. He comes off like a pro-wrestler gone to seed, driven by desperation into what amounts to full-time bullsh*tting as a career. It’s supposed to add a grim coda to his earlier adventures, but the game just botches the portrayal and it just gets tedious. Which is to say, you are going to lose interest in playing as Frank rather quickly. On the bright side, he looks like Elvis and doesn’t tell literally every person he meets that he’s a photojournalist.