Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Review

He’s covered wars, he’s covered the Willamette zombie attack, and covered why there are pictures of him in a dress, Frank West is back in a re-imagining of the events of Fortune City, with new missions, new weaponry and a new camera. Was this a good idea, or shameless cash-grabbing by Capcom?

Gameplay

Frank gets to enjoy the upgrade of controls, skills and AI that were lifted from Chuck’s experience of Fortune City, and immediately the game feels like what the first game should have been. That said, for a game that already had a majority of work done for it, there are still a few tweaks here and there that could have been implemented, such as the AI survivors being able to break out of grapples without Frank trying to free them, kicking said survivor in the face, then having to run from the now angry survivor.

As with any expansion pack, more weapons and locales are added to give more incentive to buying, and DR2: OTR gets one in the shape of Uranus Zone, complete with alien-based weaponry such as the Alien Probe – which is exactly what you think it is, and yes it is kinda squicky. Frank’s camera is back, and the control of it is more streamlined also. You get attacked while trying, but the PP grinding is still possible, and almost necessary if you don’t want to have to restart half way through the game for more power.

While on the subject, you would have hoped Capcom would realise we do not want to play the first half of a game twice just so we don’t have to deal with Isaac-levels of reliance on luck and skill. Nope, the psychos and the bosses are just as hard as before, almost unfairably so. However, a new mode missing from the original Dead Rising 2 helps which shall be shown later on. The buttons are simple, one to jump, one to attack, hold the attack button to do a strong attack – the guns are only really useful for the psychos, with the other enemies more efficiently taken down with melee weapons – two favourites being the Wolverine Claws (boxing gloves and a knife) and the Defiler – a sledgehammer with a fireaxe.

Story

As Chuck does not feature in the story, the scapegoat changes from him to Stacey, the leader of the pro-zombie group, CURE. It’s up to Frank and Rebecca, the sassy news girl to find out just who is behind the thousands of people dying. The time to get each story is much shorter than with Chuck, as you have possibly only a couple of minutes to get from where you are to the Safe House to see the story, meaning one eye is on the zombies, one eye on the clock.

Incorporating the feeling of a journalist only having a small window of opportunity to get the biggest scoops is a double edged sword. Immersion-wise, it’s fantastic, but it really cuts into zombie-slaying time, so you can never really enjoy the main focus of the game…which is the creative way of destroying the undead.

Other Modes

Aside from the obvious co-op, which makes the story a lot easier when you have a distraction for the enemies, you also have Sandbox mode, which is pretty much no restrictions, no missions, just you and a whole host of zombies. You can gain experience and money that can be transferred over to the main storyline, so having to restart half-way through the story is thankfully averted, taking out a large chunk of the frustration from prior games.

The Sandbox mode also features challenges that are unlocked the more zombies you kill, all timed – they tend to be earn this many PP in two minutes, kill this number of zombies, and so on. It’s a nice contrast from the main storyline, and in the opening cutscene, Frank even states that this is a vacation, no psychos, no running after guys with guns with a tiki torch, just pure, unadulterated zombie slaying.

Conclusion

Capcom have acknowledged that this is pretty much not worthy of a full price release, with between twenty five to fifty percent cheaper than big name release prices seen in stores. This works in it’s favour as the re-imagining works, and plays well. It’s fan-pandering to those who kept asking “Where’s Frank?” when Chuck was announced, but they did some nice work on it.

The loading times can be frustrating, but all in all it’s a fun game, definitely worth a rent for a week if not full purchase. It does show however that Frankie boy is not leaving our attention any time soon.

Score: 8

out of 10

Pros:

  • More variety in weapons
  • Different story keeps from feeling like old game
  • Sandbox mode focuses on the main selling point of Dead Rising
  • Immersive

Cons:

  • Grinding for levels
  • Loading times can get frustrating
  • Requires insane time management skills

Leave a Reply