Frank West: Man's man. Cue the damn fireball.
Here’s where things get weird. What exactly is Dead Rising 2: Off the Record? It’s not a sequel. It’s not DLC (though it should have been). It’s not even a parallel story. The game begins with our intrepid hero rising from the depths of has-beenism into the burning spotlight of an episode of "Terror is Reality," where contestants re-kill zombies in extravagant scenarios for bucketloads of cash. The one and only TK is hosting the show, and we all know him as the total jerk from Dead Rising 2.
I soon realized DR: Off the Record is a simple retread of DR2, with odd nods to that title while retelling the same story. We can see posters of Frank West plastered over those of Chuck Greene in the TIR arena. The cases have been reworked, but they’re basically the same. I won’t spoil anything for you, but if you played through DR2, consider most of the game spoiled. The only major difference to the story mode is that Frank has better dialog than Chuck, and now you can take photos.
Anyone who played the original Dead Rising or Dead Rising: Case West will be familiar with the camera feature. You’ll use it to take photos which will award you Prestige Points (XP). These pics can be classified as Horror, Drama, Brutality, Outtake, and/or Erotic. Taking fantastic pics of your co-op partner is, quite frankly, awesome. You can even share your ridiculous pics with one another.
My co-op partner took this pic of me while on my sweet ride in front of this Chuck Greene standee. Suck it, Chuck!
I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to bet that you’ll spend 90% of your camera time trying to take pictures of T&A. Protip: Zombie boobs don’t count as “Erotic” photos. I don’t know from experience... I read that somewhere, or something...
Frank's gut isn't the only thing that's grown. Fortune City has its own addition, as well. The new Uranus Zone adds a whole new area to explore. It’s a space-themed amusement park that offers some new weapons and outfits as well as some zombie killing hazards. I felt like I had adequately probed the depths of the Uranus Zone after approximately 15 minutes, and then I was ready to move on.
The biggest addition to the game is the sandbox mode. This replaces the awful "Terror is Reality" competitive games from DR2. In this mode players can explore all of Fortune City free from the constraints of the franchise’s time-based mission structure. This seems like a really cool idea, until you realize all of the game’s novelty disappears without the pressure of the clock.
You would think this would never get old. Somehow, it does.
The sandbox mode has several challenges, both in single player and cooperative play, which will keep it fresh for some players. These challenges range from simple zombie killing, to zombie wrangling, to zombie dress up, to zombie racing, etc. Some players may absolutely love this form of free roam, but I found it got boring rather quickly. The best part of the sandbox mode is that all of the cash and XP you earn transfers over to your main story profile. If you have a friend who is easily entertained you could spend hours completing the challenges of Fortune City and then return to your main games as rich, high level characters.
The technical annoyances from the previous titles are ever-present. The load times are abhorrent. Co-op players are booted when the host attempts to save. This issue was patched in the previous titles, so I expect it to be resolved soon, but I'm astonished that DR: OtR shipped with the same built-in flaw of its predecessor a year later. The game freezes for a few seconds when entering certain menus. It recovers, but this is rather unnerving when you're attempting to save.
Despite Dead Rising: Off the Record’s shortcomings, the improvements make it a better game than Dead Rising 2. This is the sequel I wanted. The Dead Rising games are just plain fun, and you can play them in their entirety with a friend. If you didn’t pick up DR2, but were a fan of the first title, this game is a must buy, especially at $40 bucks. If you have already played through DR2, there’s not enough here to justify a purchase, unless you have an un-healthy obsession with Frank West, like me. Now we can all sit back and wait for Super Dead Rising 2 Turbo HD Remix: The New Challengers. Come on, Capcom. You know you want to.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
The Co-Op Experience: Two players can play the entire game cooperatively online in both story mode and sandbox mode. †Both characters will earn XP and cash. †Story progress and weapons stay in the hostís game.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.