As I paddled through a river of zombies to helped escort survivors to a safe house (and by paddle, I literally mean with a paddle that has two chainsaws on each end) I kept grinning like an idiot at how much fun I was having. Sure the survivors I was escorting made it feel like babysitting, but even through the frustrations, I was still having a blast killing those unfortunate enough to have turned into the walking dead. As a whole, that’s precisely what Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is: A lot of fun interrupted by not a lot of fun. Luckily, the former outweighs the latter, and begs you to kill zombies in the most creative – if not ridiculous – ways.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a re-release of a spinoff of Dead Rising 2. Confused? Well, pay attention. Off the Record is a “what if?” story that recasts Dead Rising 2’s protagonist Chuck Greene by replacing him with the original Dead Rising’s protagonist Frank West. Events are slightly different and we get more of the self-obsessed, depressed Frank West. For the most part, events don’t stray too far from Dead Rising 2’s plot involving a zombie game show that results in a zombie outbreak in the Las Vegas-esque Fortune City.
Dead Rising has always been about running against the clock. You’ve got 72 hours before the military arrives to find out the truth of why the zombie outbreak has occurred, so missions can expire. It’s this frantic, stressful dance you have to perform in order to continue the main story while trying to save as many people as you can.
Or, if that sounds like too much weight to take on, there’s a new sandbox mode that allows you to mess around and level up Frank without having to worry about a constant timer. As someone who’s filled with copious amounts of anxiety while playing Dead Rising, this was a perfect addition to help buff up Frank so I could easily pass obstacles that were once time consuming and difficult.
One of the big additions to Dead Rising 2 and Off the Record is the weapon crafting system. There’s maintenance rooms with a work bench scattered across Fortune City that can be used to combine two items and make them into one. Some are fairly classic zombie killing tools like a baseball bat with nails, but there are some that go beyond ridiculous and into obscene and hilarious. Want to put a knives on boxing gloves? Go for it. Putting an amplifier and a guitar together will produce a guitar that, once strummed, will literally blow the minds of zombies around you. It’s the best kind of dumb possible.
Zombies aren’t the only enemies you’ll fight in Off the Record. Psychopaths are still a part of Dead Rising, and most fights with them highlights how awkward the combat is when you’re not fighting zombies. Because (obviously) humans move faster, the slow, intimate combat’s flaws get exposed and become frustrating. Not all fights are bad with the cast of psychopaths – at the very least they’re entertaining intermissions.
Just like in the first Dead Rising, you’ll gain experience (or PP, as they call it) that will level up stats like Frank’s health, speed and abilities. You can also gain cards that reveal new recipes to make even more ridiculous weapons at the work benches. Like the first Dead Rising, you can restart the game at any time while still keeping your stats from a previous playthrough.
The most glaring issue in the original Dead Rising was its unforgiving save system. Luckily, this is mostly addressed in Off the Record. While bathroom save points are still the norm, there are now checkpoints littered around that make deaths less throw-your-controller-in-frustration and more bearable.
Escorting survivors, especially over long distances, can be a hassle. AI isn’t smart enough to avoid zombies; instead they’ll just fight or take a wrong turn into a deceivingly welcoming group of the undead. You can equip weapons on the survivors to help them carve own way through zombies, but it’s like giving a child keys to your car and telling them to just follow you.
Currently, there’s a pretty bad bug that freezes on the copyright screen once you boot up the game. It takes over four and a half minutes (yes, I timed it) to boot up. It may not seem like a long time, but to wait that long to just get to the main menu only to have to load again is a pain.There’s no word on when (or if) a fix is on the way, so keep that in mind.
Off the Record is weird and unnecessary – but it works. It’s this interesting bastard child that takes 90 percent of Dead Rising 2 and fills in the rest with its own new material. This is not a game for those who have already played Dead Rising 2, because that would be a waste of your time. However, if you haven’t played either, at least now there’s somewhat of a choice that offers something different – not matter how minute that might be.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record by Capcom. Review copy provided by Capcom.
- Zombie combat
- Weapon creation
- Sandbox mode
- Psychopath and looter combat
- Escorting survivors