Dead Rising 2: Off the Record – Five Things We Liked, Three Things We Didn’t

So long Chuck Greene, Frank West is here to wreck house!

Alex Keenby Alex Keen


Capcom has decided to unleash Frank West into the zombified corners of Fortune City in their latest version of Dead Rising, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record.  With the game hitting store shelves today, I’ve taken a quick run through the game and here are some changes I like and a few that I’m not so hot for. In case you weren’t already aware, this game sells for less than full price at the $40 mark. Whether this is a good deal or not depends on whether you’re interested in replaying Dead Rising 2 again.

Five Things I Like…

Frank is a much more interesting character


While I respect the original intent behind Chuck Greene in Dead Rising 2, his portrayal was always a weak point of the game to me.  I never liked the daddy-daughter angle and missed the assholish bravado from the first game.  Now, with the re-introduction of Frank West, Dead Rising 2 has enough attitude to go around.  Frank brings a sense of humor and danger that the last story was simply lacking.  Welcome back, Frank!

The graphics are better


The changes to the graphics are subtle enough that I didn’t see them immediately.  However, once I spent a good amount of time in the game, I distinctly saw better graphics during the cutscenes. The textures on faces were clearer and more detailed than I remember in Dead Rising 2.  It’s nice to see that the developers spent time to upgrade the look of the game when they could have easily just cut and pasted their previous work and called it a day.

Sandbox adds more replay


In case you missed the memo, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record has a sandbox mode available right from the start.  Now you can cut through zombies anywhere in Fortune City with worrying about time or story.  You’ll still need to worry about your health and money, but the checkpoint system and mini-games will help with those issues. Sandbox is a great new inclusion, but it had some downsides that I’ll cover in the other section below.  

New enemies and areas


As should be expected, this update includes new areas to explore and new enemies to fight.  One of the first new enemies you’ll face is a psychopathic version of your good pal Chuck Greene. I won’t spoil the story but this confrontation is nearly worth the price of admission alone. I’ve only scratched the surface on the new areas but, so far, they seem to be big enough to justify playing through this game again.

Clever new tricks


There are multiple new tricks added to the gameplay that make Dead Rising 2: Off the Record a far superior experience.  The developers have done away with the walkie talkie and given Frank West a blue tooth headset.  No need to worry about killing zombies and chatting with homebase at the same time.  Second, since Frank is the character in need of Zombrex, you no longer need to worry about running back to the safe house to give injections. Just stop wherever you are and shoot yourself up.  Such a time saving upgrade!  Finally, my favorite new addition is a text indication when one of the survivors you are escorting is too far from a door to escape with you.  In the first game this was a major problem.  In the last game it was less of an annoyance because the survivor AI had been improved.  Now, survivor escort is an enjoyable experience!

Continue to page 2 for three things I don't like about Dead Rising 2: Off the Record…

Three Things I Don’t Like…

Unfortunately, I also need to report some negatives regarding this new version of Dead Rising 2. Overall, I enjoy the game; however, there are just a couple of issues that kept me from flat-out loving the experience.  Keep in mind that these challenges are not so bad as to keep me from recommending the game.

Having to start from scratch


The biggest problem I had was that, although there are new parts of the game, the majority feels exactly like the first Dead Rising 2. After playing hours of the last game, it feels a bit disingenuous to have to start at Level 1 all over again. The only perk I received from playing the previous game was a yellow biker jacket to wear. Lame. It would have been nice to either rollover my money from last game or to start a bit ahead of a newbie (say, level 10 or 15).

Sandbox mode is not very fun with an entry level character


Once I realized that this game had a sandbox mode my brain almost exploded. This series has been begging for an open-world-like experience and the possibilities seemed endless. Unfortunately, the sandbox mode is not really designed for brand-new characters. A level one player will struggle to do well and should wait at least until level 10 to spend a lot of time in this game type. At least for the start of the game, spend your time in the story mode and come back to sandbox once your in better shape to tackle the challenges ahead.

The main quest feels like playing the same game all over again


Alongside having to start this game from scratch, I felt a certain deja vu while traversing Fortune City.  Because I’d played a ton of hours in the previous game, a lot of what I was expected to do was similar or identical to before.  Sure, there was a new story to be told and some new variants, but the destinations and survivors were often the same. While I understand the need to do this, it feels a bit like a cheap tactic when this game is nearly full price.

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a fun new update on the last release of Dead Rising. It has its share of flaws, but for the most part advances the series in the right direction.  While experienced Dead Rising players may feel a sense of deja vu, those of you that missed out on the least game should assuredly give this game a shot.

CraveOnline received 1 advanced copy of Dead Rising: Off the Record for the Xbox 360 from Capcom. We were held to the embargo date of 10/11/2011. Before starting this feature, we completed 40% of the game.