|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Blue Castle Games|
|Release: October 11, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Sexual Themes, Partial Nudity, Blood and Gore, Use of Alcohol, Intense Violence, Language|
by Adam Dodd
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record confused a fair share of gamers when it was revealed earlier this year. For one, it shares the Dead Rising 2 name; only Chuck Greene has been replaced by the original game's protagonist, freelance photojournalist Frank West. So Off the Record is essentially a reimagining of the second game that answers the question of what Dead Rising 2 would've been like had Frank gotten stuck in the Fortune City viral outbreak instead of Chuck. It's an interesting concept, and one that hasn't been done too many times before. So how has it paid off?
Before we can answer this, we have to see what exactly it is that Off the Record brings to the table. For one, there's the mostly unique story, though it does share a good amount with Dead Rising 2. After fighting his way through the outbreak in Willamette, Colorado, Frank West became a celebrity of sorts, albeit temporarily. He wrote a book and had his own talk show, but when the money dried up and his status started to fade, West had to find a way to rekindle his fame. That's when Tyrone King, a character fans of the second game should remember, invites him to participate in his Terror is Reality show. Thinking this could be a good way to find his way back into the spotlight, West accepts King's offer.
That soon becomes a terrible idea, as the zombies break free and the terror does indeed become a reality, much as it did in Willamette. Off the Record plays almost exactly as its predecessor did, only with a few new moves, weapons to use, and, of course, Frank's trusty camera. Don't let its budget price fool you, nothing's been lost here; there are still tons of zombies on-screen at once, it looks identical visually, and there are a few new weapons and combos that have been added to Frank's arsenal.
These new additions range from the wacky—like the Clown Car, Remote Mine, Ray Gun, and Alien Probe—to the insane, including Flaming Turrets, a Cryo Pod, and Laser Eyes. On top of that, the weapons from the last game have made their way into Off the Record, so you'll have plenty to choose from when you're trying to decide how you're going to mow down all those zombies that stand between you and the exit. It's a little disappointing that only about a dozen new combo weapons were added to the game, but when you add the ones from Dead Rising 2 and Case West, it starts to look a little better.
From a technical standpoint, Off the Record is pretty much the same game. It looks and sounds no different, with the obvious exception of the new selection of environments that the Uranus Zone theme park offers. The sci-fi, almost cartoony look to everything makes Off the Record even more difficult to take seriously, though to be fair, it was never a serious sort of game to begin with. There have been a few technical improvements over the last entry, including shorter load times, more checkpoints, and improved matchmaking. This should make the game less frustrating, especially since the matchmaking in the last game was far from polished.
Even though it takes place in Fortune City, it's a different part of the city—the aforementioned Uranus Zone theme park—so you won't be seeing too many familiar locales. This new change of scenery also brings with it a few new psychopaths to bludgeon and a new zombie: the Scare Zombie, whose sole purpose seems to be to scare you. Sure, it's a strange choice, but the new zombie type actually fits well with the rest of the game's more arcadey take on the series. Unfortunately, as far as enemies go, there aren't very many new ones to encounter. So if fighting through waves—no, oceans—of zombies is enough for you, then Off the Record isn't likely to disappoint. But with such a bizarre new setting, this opened up some opportunities to push the game's personality further. Those opportunities were largely missed, as the enemies here are pretty much the same things we've been fighting for two games now.