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Dead Rising 2: Off the Record

Dead Rising

Dead Rising 2 was the definition of stupid, fun zombie-slaying in 2010, but if fans missed one thing it was the absence of ace photojournalist Frank West busting heads left and right. Given Capcom’s habit of updating its games, most notably when it comes to the Street Fighter series, this is an oversight easily corrected. In that regard, they’ve re-released Dead Rising 2–sort of.

Off The Record reimagines original protagonist Frank West at the center of the Fortune City outbreak rather than motorcross champ Chuck Greene. Since the outbreak in Willamette, Frank’s been living the high life until the usual cocktail mix of douchebag celebrity behavior and public scandals leave him desperate for cash and fame. Frank signs up for a guest appearance on the controversial Terror is Reality game show shortly before another zombie outbreak occurs and it’s up to him to uncover the conspiracy at its heart.

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Unlike Chuck, Frank’s intentions aren’t purely altruistic as he’s largely just looking for a juicy lead to get him back into the spotlight, so it’s a little difficult to remember why he’s such a fan-favorite to begin with. Furthermore, he just doesn’t have the same knack for delivering glib one-liners like Chuck and comes off as more of a chump rather than a hero you can root for. Still, fans will be pleased to see his inclusion.

Beyond the different motivations behind each character, Chuck and Frank pretty much have everything else in common. They have to rescue survivors and discover the cause of the outbreak all within the span of a three-day period. Frank can level up and unlock more moves to use as well as extra inventory space and health. PP points can be accumulated by killing zombies, rescuing survivors, or taking photos.

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Photography returns from the original game and Frank can snap photos for points so long as they’re unique, sexy, violent, or any combination of the above. It’s much more lucrative to rescue the game’s many survivors and kill hordes of undead in creative ways to level up quickly, so the photography feature finds itself outmoded early on.

Like most updates of Capcom games, Off The Record has a few new features to show off in comparison to the original, but they don’t necessarily make the original obsolete either. The biggest addition is the sandbox mode where players are free to wander Fortune City to their heart’s content without fear of failing a case file. All PP points acquired in sandbox mode can be imported into the main campaign, so it makes leveling up less of a chore and if wanton slaughter gets stale you can always try your luck at the various challenges peppered throughout Fortune City.

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You can even tackle them with a friend online with the host playing as Frank and the second player as Chuck, or play together in the main campaign as well. Sandbox mode replaces the Terror is Reality online games, which is for the best since they were never particularly engrossing.

The main game is mostly the same, but with a few tweaks and a slight deviation from events in Dead Rising 2. Like Katey Greene, Frank needs Zombrex ever twenty-four hours to stay alive, but unlike her he can take them anywhere in the game rather than racing back to the safehouse. Frank also uses a bluetooth to take calls hands-free, so he can take the incoming calls while still fending off zombies. The saving system is slightly more forgiving than Dead Rising 2, but battling psychos is just as frustrating as ever and the game throws even more zombies at the player to make up for the favorable odds.

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While there are a few new costumes and combo weapons to create, the biggest addition to the main game is Uranus Zone: a theme park with a cheesy ’50s sci-fi aesthetic. Frank can grab some silly alien costumes, ‘probe’ unruly zombies, and even use the functioning rides as traps. Uranus Zone serves as a fun and clever diversion, but outside of being the stage for the final boss encounter, it’s not used much in the main game.

Still, at its heart this is Dead Rising 2. Most of the cutscenes contain the same dialogue, only with Frank edited in, so there’s the feeling that two entirely different conversations are taking place and it comes across as lazy. Only a handful of the cases are new, and the majority of them are repeats from Dead Rising 2. It’s an undeniably fun game, and anyone who hasn’t played the original should give it a try. Fans who have already bought and played Dead Rising 2, along with its add-ons, might find it hard to justify taking another trip to Fortune City.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in March 2010.

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