If you enjoyed Dead Rising 2, then youl enjoy Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, an alternate reality take on the older game with a splattering of new content and improvements. The main difference is the re-introduction of photographer Frank West, star of the original Dead Rising, as the protagonist in the place of Motocross champion Chuck Greene.
The story may take place in an alternate universe, but it plays out very similarly. Based around time-based zombie slaying challenges, the game sees you thrown into a fight for survival when an outbreak hits America's entertainment capital, Fortune City, where tens of thousands of the living dead shuffle through casinos, bars and shops on the hunt for human flesh.
You can pick up almost anything in the environment to use in combat, from traditional weapons like guns and swords to spray paint, fireworks and stuffed animals, while an item crafting system allows you to combine objects to create more outlandish tools of destruction such as a machine gun-equipped wheelchair, a sentry gun made from a robotic bear, and a helmet that lets you shoot lasers from your eyes.
The vast majority of content will feel familiar to those who played Dead Rising 2, but there are some reworked cinematic cut-scenes and new bosses, and on the occasions when the game does deviate from the script it sets up some clever twists that should please series fans.
Photographer Frank sees the zombie outbreak as a chance to restore his dwindling fame, leading to the reintroduction of the original Dead Rising camera gameplay. You can whip out your camera and take snaps at any point to earn experience points, which grant you a larger inventory and health bar, plus new combo cards which unlock special moves and provide handy item combination suggestions.
Everything you can photo has a category rating, such as horror, drama and erotica. The trick to scoring loads of points is to get as many of these as possible in the frame simultaneously. For example, snapping a terrified survivor (drama), who happens to be a sexy lady (erotica) being chased by a group of zombies (horror). It a really fun system and a welcome return.
The main game retains the seriessomewhat divisive time management system, which sees events and side quests occur at set time periods and disappear for good if you fail to reach them in time, while failure to trigger certain story points before the clock runs out leads to a game over screen, limiting your free-roaming ability.
However, a new free-play mode lets you mess around in Fortune City without restrictive countdowns, and you can fluidly transfer money and experience points between it and the main campaign, enabling you to level up in one and reap the rewards in the other. The game also supports drop-in, drop-out co-operative play, allowing you and a friend to enjoy the carnage together at any time.
In addition, Off the Record introduces a new checkpoint system that softens the blow of failure. Whenever you enter a new area the game creates a checkpoint you revert to upon dying, meaning you don have to go back to an old save, which turns out to be more of a relief than the tension buster we initially feared, especially when dealing with tough boss battles.
Definitive Dead Rising
Another welcome improvement is the reduction of Dead Rising 2 lengthy loading times, which have been roughly halved, making everything feel slicker and less disruptive than before, while the new game can handle more zombies on-screen too.
If you played Dead Rising 2 and were a big fan, Off the Record is definitely worth a blast, while if youe new to the series, this is the place to start. Featuring technical tweaks that make things less stressful and more free-flowing, Frank West version of Fortune City zombie outbreak is a great remix of an already standout game, and unarguably the definitive Dead Rising experience.
+ Loads of cool ways to kill zombies.
+ Welcome technical improvements.
+ Camera gameplay is back.
- No real visual upgrade.
- Loading times could still be reduced further.
- Might feel too familiar for some.