Dead Rising 2: Off The Record Review

By Lauren Alessandra on October 19, 2011

It's been nearly a year since Dead Rising 2 was released and already we've seen more spin-offs than 'The Real Housewives' series. There comes a time in every game's life where we have to say enough is enough and the fact it's come after a year with Dead Rising 2 isn't that great. It's not all doom and gloom though as Dead Rising 2: Off the Record does have some merits, such as its much reduced price tag.

One of the biggest changes from between Off The Record and the original Dead Rising 2, is the return of Frank West as a main character. He has appeared before in the Dead Rising 2 mini-franchise, but in Case West he was just your teammate. Unfortunately, West this time around has the zombie infection and so each day you'll need to be prepared with a healthy dose of Zombrex to keep yourself from dying. But horrible infection aside, it's nice to follow West once more.

Playing as Frank West is like seeing an old friend who's far superior to your other friend in almost every way. Following on from Dead Rising, we learn that Frank had quite a career. But, all good things must come to and end and unfortunately for Frank it was cut short as he fell deeper and deeper into alcohol and depression. West then does what every celebrity needs to do when their career goes down the tubes; join a reality TV show. And so Frank puts on his big boy pants and competes in TK's zombie wresting game show where West needs to pulverize as many zombies as he can in order to earn loads of cash.

After West completely embarrasses himself and leaves the set, he's quickly thrown into a zombie apocalypse and is forced to not only destroy all zombies but also help keep all people unaffected find safety. There's plenty of twists and turns this time around, especially with West's prime girl toy being a part of a "˜zombie rights' group called CURE. But aside from the storyline, there isn't much of a difference between Dead Rising 2 and Off the Record.

Off the Record still runs on Cases like the other Dead Rising games. Each one has a timer and if you don't have good time management skills, you can find yourself restarting the story mode over. Why? Because if you fail to complete a case in the set time period, it's game over completely. Side quests are rather tempting though since if you aren't able to get to them when they show up, you won't be able to go back to them. However, unlike the cases, missing a side quest isn't game over, but they do provide a great deal of PP and, sometimes, a great deal of cash.It just wouldn't be a Dead Rising game without tons of zombies and Off the Record spews out zombies by the truck load. Dead Rising is also known for its variety pack of obscure weapons which you can find and/or make yourself, but to be honest, killing zombies isn't what it's all made up to be. In fact it gets to be a nuisance as they just don't seem to die sometimes. Killing one zombie means about 20 are born which means if you don't have good enough weapons or a way to kill a ton of zombies at once, you can be sure that you won't survive for very long. This limits weapons exploration as you'll come to find that you only really need one or two really strong weapons. Why use the wrench when you can just make a defiler using a sledgehammer and a fire axe? But this of course changes once you move over to the new Sandbox Mode which you can use as a tool to earn extra money and PP as you kill zombies and complete challenges without the need to complete Cases.

Psychopaths are back again and are as obnoxious as ever. Each one requires a very specific strategy which is all well and good until they start throwing things at you and in a game where all you have is a dodge button and very few defensive items, this can prove to be quite difficult to manoeuvre. Thankfully if you die while fighting any of the Psychopaths, instead of being sent back to your last Save Point, you'll be able to go back to the last checkpoint with the same weapons and health amount as you did before. But to be honest, there are some psychopaths whose attack patterns are just far too mean to get past especially when you're a lowly level 5 or so.

When stuck on a particular enemy, sometimes it's just best to start the whole story over as your stats stay the same. You'll lose all combo cards and such, but all skills remain making for a much easier experience. It might also be the best option if you're finding a specific case too hard - you can just level up a bit and tackle it again later.

The atmosphere of this game is much like you would expect; plenty of areas decorated with flesh eating zombies, frightened survivors, and other extremely obscure things. There's one new area featured in Off the Record called Uranus Zone which offers new games and a new place for major plot points to occur. Unfortunately it doesn't offer much more than that.

And that's one of the main stickling points with Off The Record. It's the fourth installment into a single game - a very odd scenario and it's hard to really understand why there are four Dead Rising 2 games. It's great that Frank is back and that they could add a few little things in there, but why couldn't more time just be put into the development of Dead Rising 3, or something else that shows a bit more creativity?

Final Thoughts

For Dead Rising fans, this game doesn't have too much to offer when compared to its predecessors. If you prefer Frank West to Chuck, then perhaps this would be a better way to get yourself through Dead Rising 2, but it's a bit of a tenuous reason. For anyone who hasn't experienced Dead Rising 2 yet, then Off the Record should probably be the version they get, but it does beg the question of, why should they even need to make that choice?

Frank West is back.
It's interesting to see the story from a different perspective.
Sandbox Mode makes for a great tool.
This game is lacking in the innovation department.
Gameplay can become more annoying than fun.
Doesn't feel like there's enough content to justify a sequel.
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