Dead Rising 2: Off The Record Xbox 360 Review

I really enjoyed Dead Rising 2. It was a better game than the original in almost every way. If there was one real problem with it, it was the choice of lead character. Chuck Greene ain’t no Frank West. He had emotions, motives, and even some sort of personality. Some may say that’s a good thing, personally I missed Frank, and I know I’m not the only one. So Capcom have listened to us and given us what we wanted: Dead Rising 2 starring Frank West.

For the most part this is just the same game with a different lead character. The story is the same, aside from a few minor tweaks in perspective for the different lead. The location is the same, although Fortune City has had a little remodelling and now has an extra theme park. The missions and psychos are all also pretty much the same, apart from one notable change (but we will get in to that later). It even has the same technical issues, such as painfully long waits when wanting to save or load a game. If you want to read about all that, just check out. Here I’m going to talk about what’s different in Off The Record and how it affects the game.

Obviously there’s Frank West who, despite being far more of a one-dimensional character than Chuck Greene, just seems like a better fit for the game. He has covered wars after all, and as the reporter who broke the Willamette story it’s only natural he should be there for the next big zombie outbreak. It doesn’t actually make much of a change to the story, just the motives of the lead character. You see, Frank isn’t the man he used to be. After Willamette he became a celebrity, but like all celebrities you don’t stay famous forever. This Frank West is older. Maybe not wiser, but definitely fatter and balder, and he is out to get himself back into the headlines.

There are some gameplay changes relating to Frank too, foremost his camera. In the original, Dead Rising Frank’s camera was a necessity. You were required to take photos as part of the game’s story. In Off the Record it is completely optional. But just because you don’t have to take any photos doesn’t mean you won’t want to. It’s a great way to kill time between missions if you get bored of chopping up zombies, and can be loads of fun setting up some ridiculous shots. Another difference is that Frank doesn’t have an annoying daughter waiting in the safehouse for her Zombrex shots. Frank is (of course) still infected from Willamette, so you’ll still need to collect Zombrex to prevent an abrupt ‘game over’ screen. Luckily he can take his Zombrex anywhere, so that’s some tedious backtracking eliminated from the agenda.

Chuck Greene is still in the game however. Although no longer the hero of the piece, he certainly makes a memorable and highly amusing appearance. He isn’t a survivor that needs rescuing though, no. This Chuck is a little ‘unhinged’ to say the least. He’s got his daughter with him too, and she’s looking even worse than him. At least I think it’s his daughter anyway, it could be just a large doll that looks like her strapped to his back. Either way she isn’t alive. Not that Chuck has noticed this, he is still intent on getting her Zombrex, and heaven help anyone who gets in his way (read Frank). It’s quite sad actually, but I just found it really, really, really funny. What could have only been funnier would have been if Chuck’s ‘daughter’ had been a heavily muzzled zombie riding on his back.

Aside from a few new constructable weapons, and the aforementioned extra park to Fortune City, those are the main differences to Story Mode. The multiplayer things have had some changes too. Co-op is still intact, and Chuck Greene resurfaces again as your co-op partner. But “Terror is Reality” has been axed from the game. This is a bit of a shame, as I quite enjoyed it and it made for a good way of earning extra cash and levelling up. Instead we have Sandbox Mode, which is pretty much what you would expect it to be. Much like Survival Mode in the original Dead Rising, you can just wander around killing zombies, taking photos, and generally doing what you like. That would get pretty boring fast though, so challenges have been added to the mode to make it more interesting.

Most of the challenges are pretty straightforward. Kill as many zombies or score as much PP as possible before a time limit expires are what you’ll essentially be doing in this mode, but there’s several variations on each. Conditions such as ‘stay on a certain floor for the kills to count’, or ‘only use bladed weapons’ are added to some challenges. Fear not, there are other types of challenges too. ‘Foot races’ are aplenty, if you can call making your way through a crowd of zombies a race. I also came across another where you had to attract zombies to a stage to build an audience. There’s enough variety here to last for a while, and seeing that they can also be played in co-op makes for a nice diversion from the Story Mode. A pity they couldn’t have Terror is Reality as well as Sandbox mode, but you can’t have everything I suppose.

The big question here: Is Off The Record different enough from the original Dead Rising 2 to warrant a purchase? For fans of the franchise the answer has got to be yes. There may not be loads added, but considering the budget price it is worth picking up, if only just to play as Frank West again.

8 out of 10