When a game gathers a quick following it’s completely expected to hear news of a sequel, with fans wanting more of what they have already enjoyed so much. Should a game series receive success then spin-offs, remakes and remasters are things that can often get thrown in the mix too – often to shake things up, to try new ideas and also to expand stories or universes. As seen more recently it can be done to ensure it looks its best and is something that deserves praise. With Capcom devoting most of 2016 to their own catalogue of great franchises, I sat down with Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, Capcom’s self-described re-imagining to see just how praise worthy it was. Or if it is something we could have done without.
There are many popular sayings out there that many of us have heard growing up. One such thing I used to hear my dad say whenever I told him we needed a new toaster was, ‘if it’s not, broke don’t fix it’, and no matter how much my craving for four slices at once called, that was always the last of it. Of course nowadays it’s only a matter of months after console or game release dates that we see news of a newer or upgraded version. So what happens if a new upgrade was to give off nothing more than a few extra lines of dialogue and mild differences from something that was sold to us previously? That is a question I expect Capcom heard loud and clear back in 2011.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record was highly anticipated before its release back in 2011, many people had wanted more from fan favourite, photojournalist hero, Frank West, and this was it. But what exactly does this game offer differently from Dead Rising 2? The real answer in all honesty is not much.
DR2:OTR offers players a re-imagined story of the events that occurred during Dead Rising 2. This time however, players take control of returning protagonist Frank West in exchange for Dead Rising 2’s original main character Chuck Greene. Of course, those that played Dead Rising 2 can agree that the part Chuck played was not small at all, after being falsely accused and framed for causing the zombie outbreak in Fortune City, players spent most of DR2 chasing cases to prove Chucks innocence, helping a local reporter chase down the real culprit and ensuring safety to countless survivors by bringing them to the local security room.
This time out all those things are still there, with just slight differences to change the overall tone of the game.
For example, instead of being the one on the receiving end of pointing fingers, players instead take over proving the innocence of another, with Dead Rising 2’s Stacey Forsythe (lead campaigner for C.U.R.E) the new target of blame. Of course, with the removal of Chuck Greene, some things throughout the game are different. There’s no Katey to grab the Zombrex for, and no motorbike racing intro, but these have been swapped out for very similar things with Frank instead fighting zombies in TK’s sadistic gameshow Terror is Reality, and players needing to still grab Zombrex – but for Frank himself. Of course, this takes away the need to run to the safehouse on time every day as was an issue in Dead Rising 2, but for an entirely separate game in the series I expected much more from Capcom.
There are some complete differences involved to ensure DR2:OTR isn’t a simple copy and paste, with a few fresh faces, and the biggest of the changes comes in the form of the entirely new sandbox mode. In here, players are cut free from all time restraints and shackles, and let loose to explore Fortune City without the worry of finding Zombrex or racing to time specific cases. For those that craved more freedom than the limited time between cases allowed, sandbox mode is the perfect way to experience the game. The only real concern is that you have to save the game often enough so that if you die, you don’t lose any progress.
Yes saving is an option, and despite this essentially being a ‘do what the hell you want’ game mode, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. If the limitless hordes of zombies are starting to get old, the inclusion of challenges is a real fun way to keep yourself entertained. Challenges offer players many different tasks such as killing a set number of the undead with combo weapons, or earning a certain number of PP (XP to anyone who has played any game ever) amongst many other things. Whilst not all are unlocked from the start, busting a few heads is a sure fire way to ensure the shiny start logo pops up quickly, and with each challenge offering a Bronze, Silver and Gold dependant on performance, there is certainly enough here to keep you busy for a while. Add in a co-op friend of course, and this is a game that can actually offer up something new.
Another nice feature of the sandbox mode is no more saving survivors. Yes, whilst they may be a vast part of the content in the main game, sandbox mode throws in all the survivors seen throughout the game and gives them an attitude adjustment, with them seemingly wanting to kill you themselves. But don’t worry, because none of them are particularly difficult and offing each of the countless whiners is a good way to boost that hard to earn cash for your solo game.
With nothing more than a few different lines of dialogue, a couple of new endings, a few new combo weapons and slightly different story missions, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record only really seems suitable to those who haven’t played Dead Rising 2 already. Sure, the included sandbox mode is a blast, but given that there was nothing to stop Capcom releasing it as DLC for Dead Rising 2, it’s tough to point anyone in the direction of a title that only offers slight differences to its predecessor.