Geek Game Review: Dead Risng 2: Off The Record
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 09:30 Written by LoganDX Tuesday, 15 November 2011 05:00
Zombies, zombies, zombies. They’re so much fun to kill in videogames, especially if you can do it with style. That’s the exact premise behind the Dead Rising series, killing zombies with cool weapons and moves. The first game put horror minded players in the shoes of photojournalist Frank West as he battle the hordes of undead with everyday items he found in the Willamette Mall. The sequel took a new protagonist, Chuck Greene, to a new place, Fortune City, and granted him the ability to create weapons by combining two seemingly harmless items into blood spraying eviscerators of brain craving flesh bags. Now Frank is back in an alternate universe style retelling of Dead Rising 2.
After fans battled alongside hero Frank, many were miffed at him being replaced by fresh-faced Chuck. Greene turned out to be a formidable protagonist in his own right with a very personal reason to fight and solve the mystery of the outbreak. Adding this new character to the improved combat made DR2 a very fun game indeed. Frank however, was still in the back of our minds, clawing his way back into the limelight. We got a taste of his fury in the downloadable Case West, an adventure set after the events of DR2 and pairing Papa Frank with the Chuckster. Fans understandably wanted more and Capcom said “Hey how about DR2 but from a new perspective? Frank West’s?” And all was right in the world.
Seasoned gaming vets were apprehensive about a game like this, calling it a “milking of the franchise”. At first glance it could seem that way but in fact Capcom Vancouver added some slight changes that may melt the hearts of many a gamer. At the start of the game, we see Frank at his lowest. He’s lost respect from the public, burned through his cash and desperate to be at the top again. He agrees to go on the pay-per-view show “Terror is Reality”, hosted by Tyrone King. Franks battles in the show differ from Chucks in DR2, instantly showing the alternate course of the story. Frank finishes up and begins his real quest. The outbreak happens just like in DR2 but CURE gets blamed instead of Chuck. CURE being at the forefront of zombie rights makes the perfect patsy. If you played DR2, a large portion of the story remains unchanged. The one welcome difference was injecting Frank with Zombrex, instead of Katie. As long as you have the life saving med in your pocket, you can inject it anywhere when the time comes. No more last-minute trips back to the safe house to dose up the daughter, making the story flow more fluidly. I blazed through the story, solving cases and causing mayhem, unaware that around the corner a plot twist was waiting. Towards the end of the story, as more facts are uncovered, forget what you know. Capcom went and changed some stuff on us. Suffice to say, it males it worth it to pay this version of the Fortune City outbreak.
Combat remains mostly unchanged, except for the addition of a few new combo weapons. If you’ve played DR2, then you’ve played OTR. Frank moves a bit slower than his younger counterpart but makes up for it with slightly more power in his swings. The new combo weapons are a hoot to build and play, including the Super Massager. This adults only weapon is NSFW but the sounds it makes will have you sickos chuckling long after the last phallic shaped projectile ruins a zombie’s day. That really is the charm of the game, building those unique death dealers and watching what happens to the psychopaths and undead alike. If you get a chance, combine a knife with a weed whacker. The “Tendonizer” is a low clearing ankle slicing combo that gives you a leg up on the horde.
The best thing the developers could ever do for the franchise was the brand new Sandbox mode. Instead of solving cases, Frank drops down into an infested Fortune City with the sole purpose of killing zombies. PP is earned as well as cash, both of which transfer over to the story mode. Smart players will power through Sandbox mode first, then fire up the story mode with the added benefits that come along. Challenges have Frankie boy killing a set amount of zombies, earning PP before time runs, attracting zombies, etc. Complete the challenges, earn the PP and cash and head out. You don’t have to do the challenges either, you’re free to roam the adult playground causing mayhem everywhere you go. All areas are unlocked for exploration and you can craft weapons to your heart’s desire. It was the most enjoyable part of the game and delivers more replayability than the story. You can unlock a majority of the cards and items through this mode but to unlock everything, you will have to go through the story side and save survivors. In Sandbox mode, those same survivors are crazed and will chase you down and try to kill you. Kill them first for some quick PP and cash!
Not content to just rehash the game, the developers added in a new area dubbed the “Uranus Zone”. Yes, I’ll wait while you snicker for a bit. Done? Good, back to Uranus. The area a space theme park, using set pieces that would belong on a 50′s B-horror movie. There’s a midway full of carnival games, cotton candy to scarf down and even a life sized Whack-a-Mole! For the more sophisticated, Jump Seven is a bar slash lounge with a second floor VIP room. You might not be able to ride the rides but you can use them to take out a few zombies if you know your stuff!
The photography is back from the original Dead Rising and just like the first game I found it to be more a hindrance than a help. Sure you can take photos to earn PP but some of the best photo ops happen during psychopath battles which just gets kinda hairy at times. You can still take regular pics and some of the funnier or more “erotic” ones will keep your interest but beyond that, it still feels more like a gimmick. The save system is still the same as always but Capcom Vancouver added a checkpoint system. Finally! Previously, you had to be diligent on your save because at anytime you might find yourself at the mercy of a psycho and die. Now, if that happens, a checkpoint is usually right before that battle or mistake. Makes playing through the game a tad less stressful.
OTR has co-op over the network but in my time with the game, I couldn’t get a good partner to play with. Maybe it was the times at which I played, I don’t know. Sadly, I couldn’t test this part of the experience. It would have been fun to go into Sandbox with a pal and cause double the decapitations! Or better yet, couch co-op would have been nice.
Final verdict: Dead Rising 2 keeps some of the previous iterations coolest features while implementing some much-needed freshness. The Sandbox mode is a paradise for relieving stress and having fun without the weight of the time clock on your head. At $39.99 MSRP, it’s a steal!
Thanks to our fine friends at Capcom for the review copy. The review was done with the Xbox 360 version.
- ‘Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3′ Trailers Highlight Frank West, Rocket Raccoon (gamerant.com)
- Dead Rising 2: Off the Record (Review) (popmatters.com)