E3 2011: Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Hands-on

The word “Reimagining” was bandied about a lot when I asked a Capcom rep to explain to me exactly what was going on with the Dead Rising 2: Off the Record demo they had playable at the show floor. I recognized the player character, Frank West, from the first Dead Rising. I noticed that there were new weapons, like a saw launcher, a flaming tennis ball launcher, and the cryo-pod, a combo weapon that uses fire extinguishers to turn one zombie into a hovering font of coldness, rendering his shambling brethren beneath frozen solid and easily destructible. All this took place in a theme park area called “Uranus Zone” (get it!), a heretofore inaccessible area of Fortune City.

Sure, there are technical improvements in Off the Record, like “significantly” reduced loading times. And Frank’s camera, which earns you XP for taking pictures in a number of different categories, makes a welcome return from the original. But the more I thought about Off the Record, the more enraged I became.

First of all, it costs $39.99. For a standalone disc. I had to ask again to make I had heard that right. Who is supposed to buy this turkey? If it’s people who already own Dead Rising 2, I’m insulted — why didn’t they include these features in the original, or at least make them available as DLC? Isn’t remaking the game with the old protagonist and without the new story tantamount to admitting “we screwed up?” If it’s people who don’t already own Dead Rising 2, I’m insulted. Why release the vanilla version at all if you’re just going to release an expanded, technologically improved version the next year for less money?

I get that people liked Frank West (I didn’t, but I get it). I get that people missed the camera. Sometimes, though, game developers have to make hard choices, and people have to live with them. What people definitely don’t have to do is to pay twice for the same product, especially if its developers aren’t willing to stake their reputations on its quality. If you don’t have the courage to stick to your guns, and you compound that cowardice by trying to squeeze more money out a dry, zombified lemon, you deserve all the invective you have coming to you.

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