Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Review

Ozzie reviews Dead Rising 2: Off the Record in which photojournalist Frank West from the first game gets his shot at zombie infested Fortune City.


Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is one of those cases of good things coming in unexpected packages. On the surface, it looks like a cash grab from a publisher taking advantage of a series’ fanbase. After all, it arrives only a year after the release of the original Dead Rising 2, and appears to essentially be the same game with a new hero. Looks can be deceiving, though. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record may be the best game in the series.

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a reimagining of Dead Rising 2, with the primary difference being that Frank West from the original game steps into the lead role. In fact, Off the Record feels like the proper follow-up to Frank's story that players originally expected in a sequel. It picks up the story chronicling Frank West's rise to fame following the events of Dead Rising and an epic fall from grace that leads him to Fortune City.

The structure of the Story Mode remains intact. Players are given 72 hours to complete the main story before the military arrives and effectively ends the game. Time must be managed effectively in order to complete the main cases, while also setting some aside to rescue survivors and gain valuable Prestige Points (PP) used to improve Frank's abilities. Time also has to be made to find Frank his daily dose of Zombrex, without which he will die…well, turn undead. This structure presents the game's core dilemma. There simply isn’t enough time to complete side quests, raise cash, and level up. In many cases, I'd force myself to jump right into the story missions and end up woefully outmatched.

This has often been the case for Dead Rising titles, but Off the Record offers a solution. The new Sandbox Mode can be played through any save file and basically puts Frank West in Fortune City without the confines of the 72-hour time limit. It freed me up to go nuts and whack zombies to my heart’s content. There are also dozens of challenges available throughout the city, many of which open up after a certain number of zombies have been slaughtered. The best part about sandbox is that all the cash I made and levels I gained here can be transferred right over to story mode . So, anytime I felt outmatched in one of the missions, I simply switched over to sandbox and grinded until I was ready to go.

This solution, though, creates a new problem. The game starts to feel repetitious. Slaughtering zombies mercilessly is fun for a while, but the thrill quickly fades. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record tries to mix things up with ample Combo Cards for turning all sorts of everyday items into fun weapons, like a propane tank and a lawn dart. And I admit to getting some big laughs out of taking down zombies with an amusement park ride. But done over and over, for challenges that involve killing as many zombies as possible in a given amount of time and grinding to level up, the fun gets worn out.

The only real sense of variety I had when playing this game was through the return of the photography feature from the original Dead Rising. Taking pictures was one of my favorite aspects of that game, and the same held true here. There are areas in Fortune City that will award bonus PP when captured on film, which affords a nice alternative way to level up. From my experience, however, there weren’t enough of these opportunities.

Even with the return of Frank West and his camera, there's going to be an undeniable sense of déjà vu in Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. The setting is nearly recycled entirely from Dead Rising 2, save for a couple of new areas. The plot, while reimagined, treads familiar territory. And, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, the game starts off with Frank West inside a shopping mall. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record won’t do much to alleviate player concerns of the game lacking creativity.

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record feels like such a mixed bag. On one hand, it features everything that a Dead Rising title should. I cannot emphasize enough how much of a welcomed feature Sandbox Mode is. I also enjoyed seeing Frank West return with his camera in-hand--although fans of Chuck Greene need not worry, as his presence is felt in both the Story Mode and in the game’s online co-op, as a second player. To me, DR2: OTR feels like what Dead Rising 2 was meant to be--a continuation of Frank West’s story with additional gameplay elements. As a retake on the first run at a sequel from last year, though, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record feels like a "been there, done that" experience. New fans to the series should enjoy this game as a jumping on point, but anyone that's had a full Dead Rising 2 experience prior to this game should weigh whether if they want to take a return trip to Fortune City so soon after the last visit.

[Review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of the game, provided by the publisher. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is also available on PC and PlayStation 3.]

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 11, 2011 1:15 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Review.

    Ozzie reviews Dead Rising 2: Off the Record in which photojournalist Frank West from the first game gets his shot at zombie infested Fortune City.

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      October 11, 2011 2:31 PM

      Notice: Capcom requires that this game will not install or update when connecting from an IP address attributed to Germany.


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        October 11, 2011 2:34 PM

        That's strange. Could be Germany's stringent censorship requirements. I know they frown on fire, in particular, and I ran into quite a few instances in this game where I set zombies on fire.

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          October 12, 2011 9:57 PM

          No it's not. It's on list B of the USK. Nobody is required to do this, it is the first time this happens, and it has nothing to do with German law or censorship.

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        October 11, 2011 10:01 PM

        Maybe in another 50 years

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        October 12, 2011 10:35 AM

        Yea don't blame the country with the stupid laws blame the company tat abides by the laws.

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          October 12, 2011 9:41 PM

          Thing is, importing is perfectly fine. I can buy the game at a store here no problem, all I gotta do is ask for it. It is just not allowed to advertise it or show it openly. I can buy it from German import websites or other online shops that sell it uncut. I can buy it from Amazon. I can buy it from Ebay.

          Then when I try to install it I can't. Even though its allowed. And works with every other game. Boom, wasted a load of cash.

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          October 12, 2011 9:52 PM

          Not to mention that its also blocked in Austria, and apparently illegal by German trade law to lock buyers out of the product they bought in the EU.

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      October 11, 2011 2:41 PM

      Is there anything in the game that would make a person who's played the other games in the series want to purchase it? From your article it seems like that second sentence should read " looks like (and is) a cash grab from a publisher taking advantage of a series’ fanbase."

      The fact that the publisher lists "performance improvements" and "decresed load times" for the game in the Steam store as "features" makes me think that this is just a 40 dollar patch.

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        October 11, 2011 2:45 PM

        Decreased load times, maybe. But there were an awful lot of loading screens, so take that however you want. If you've played the last few games, I can't see you wanting to purchase this. I'd recommend this for fans of the series, newcomers, and big Frank West fans. Otherwise, you can take a pass on it.

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      October 11, 2011 3:17 PM

      This makes me wish I had waited on DR2 and gotten this instead. I missed the photo mechanic in DR2.

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        October 12, 2011 12:46 AM

        Me too on the latter statement. I'm sure I'll play it when it hits 10 bucks or so. Capcom games usually drop pretty quick on Steam, and I had a good enough time with the surprisingly good DR2 PC port to make this an easy pickup.

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      October 11, 2011 8:08 PM

      Is this a stand-alone title, or do I need DR2 installed as well?

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        October 11, 2011 10:05 PM

        It's standalone.

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        October 11, 2011 10:12 PM

        Standalone, but avoid it if you already played DR2. If you didn't, this is a great deal.

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      October 12, 2011 12:17 AM

      Thanks good review. Some remaining questions though... Is online co op over live available in the story, and in the sandbox mode - its not a seperate story is it? How is saving progress for the guest handled? Does only the player level and not the zombies and pyschos? Can weapon combos be shared and cash, between co op players? Are the challenges just kill a load of zombies or are there mission or quest like ones too? Are the performance improvements noticeable on a 360 with it installed to hdd or usb? Any in game bonuses for having played or completed other DR games or bought DLCs inc Cases W & 0?

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        October 12, 2011 12:28 AM

        Unfortunately, I didn't get an opportunity to try out the online co-op, but it's only available in the Story Mode, as far as I can tell. The Sandbox challenges didn't appear all that varied and involved menial tasks like killing zombies within a time limit and earning a set amount of PP within a time limit. Really, the Sandbox is great for exploring and killing zombies without the confines of the Story's time limit. I didn't notice a major difference with or without the 360 version installed, as far as performance goes. I had bought DR2 and Case Zero and didn't receive any bonuses.

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          October 12, 2011 12:45 AM

          Sandbox allows co-op. You can level your character up in sandbox and still use it in story. Zombies/psychos don't level up. Load times should be reduced across the board.

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          October 12, 2011 1:27 AM

          Thanks :-)

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      October 12, 2011 5:19 AM

      I got stuck on a boss battle in DR2 and got bored :(

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        October 12, 2011 5:20 AM

        I couldn't beat any bosses in solo mode, had to do coop and I am also stuck at a boss. I think it's the military guy in the tunnels.

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      October 13, 2011 3:30 PM

      This should have been DLC.

      But don't worry, next year they can release 'Dead Rising 2: The Actual Full Game' =]

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