Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Review (PS3)

Author: Heath Flor
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/Dead_Rising_2_Off_the_Record/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Frank West is back, and he's ready for action in the new Dead Rising 2: Off the Record from Capcom. In a retelling of the infamous zombie slaying fest Dead Rising 2, you take control of Frank who is anxious to get his reputation back after he makes a failure of his life. It seems he's been caught up in more than a few scandals in his day and has gone from hero to loser in no time.

With all of the chips down, Frank jumps into the ring to participate in Terror is Reality, the popular reality game show which pits humans against waves of zombies for cash. It's clear from the beginning the show's host Tyrone King (aka T.K.) is up to no good, as Frank catches him handing off a suspicious package to an unknown man after the first fight.

Recycled Materials

Let's get this perfectly clear up front: Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is the same game as Dead Rising 2 with a few tweaks. I could have very easily copied Lydia Sung's review from last year without anyone being the wiser. I'm starting to see a trend here in the gaming industry with the constant recycling of old games, but I digress.

One of the bigger changes is getting to play as Frank West, a favorite zombie killing hero for those who played the original Xbox 360 version. The majority of the supporting characters have stayed the same, but there are a few subtle changes. For one, Frank West requires Zombrex instead of Chuck Greene's daughter, Katey.

The photography mini-game reappears from the original Dead Rising with Frank now on the case. Taking photographs scores you some extra "Prestige Points" which level you up, and grant you more health as well as extra item slots. Photographs are judged on how they capture the mood of a specific genre such as drama, erotica, horror, and brutality. Combining genres in a single photo helps to increase your Prestige Points.

There is also a Sandbox mode -- something many fans will enjoy, as it allows you to explore Fortune City without time constraints. The time limits were such a hassle in Dead Rising 2 that many didn't bother taking the time to explore the rest of the game as they were being rushed through the story. Not only will you get to cruise Fortune City looking for trouble, but you will also gain access to unique challenges you can participate in while playing either solo or co-op.

Weapons Galore

The weapon building system and the combo cards are back, and give Frank access to all sorts of crazy weapons. The majority of the weapons don't really have any practicality, and are thrown in for titillation. Personally, I'm more of a spiked bat or lead pipe kind of guy.

Just as mentioned in our original review, the storage system really hinders the weapon building experience. Nothing has changed in that regard, as you're still limited by the number of storage slots and it's not always easy to make it back to a building bench to create your new weapons of destruction.

You will upgrade your item capacity as you level up with Prestige Points, but it hardly seems like much of an increase when you're stuck having to determine if you're desperate for weapons or food more. While I understand the purpose of a controlled inventory, it would have been nice to segregate the consumable items.

Gameplay

Even though most of the material is reused from Dead Rising 2, I must admit the game is pure fun. There's nothing quite as satisfying as knocking down a few zombies with a baseball bat and then taking their picture. The controls are very simple to learn as there's a single attack button, making it very easy for anyone to pick up and go to town on zombies.

Taking pictures can be a bit awkward because the aim button is for both throwing and aiming your camera, which resulted in me accidentally throwing a couple items. The zombies may move slowly at times, but once they get your scent they're over you like ravenous wolves, making for some panicked moments when fiddling with the camera.

The co-op is another enjoyable feature. I was able to con the wife into playing the game (albeit kicking and screaming), and she actually had a blast. It helped to hear very solid "thumps" from  2X4 planks connecting to zombie heads in surround sound. She giggled at that a little bit too much, making me wonder if I should hide any lumber in our yard for fear she might try that on my head for fun.

Final Thoughts

Playing through Dead Rising 2 as Frank West hardly constitutes a new game. There are some new missions to play through, the sandbox feature is extremely entertaining, and the combination of weapon building as well as the photography mini-game add to the sense of fun. In the end though, it's nothing more than a glorified DLC pack, and the reuse of characters from Dead Rising 2 definitely doesn't help matters.

The price point for the game is down to $40, so even Capcom recognizes re-skinning the original character and slapping in some minor content changes isn't going to bring home the bacon. No matter how fun smashing the hell out of zombies may be, at the end of the day it's yay for the sandbox gameplay, and nay for the recyclables.

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