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Still Fun, But...
on December 19, 2011
As a fan of Dead Rising since the first game, the idea of a version of Dead Rising 2 with the original hero, freelance photojournalist Frank West (he's covered wars, y'kno- *shot*) was very enticing. But after finishing Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, I feel like it just wasn't a good fit for Frank.
The game is mostly a rehashed version of DR2, with some new psychopaths, survivors, and weapons. Obviously, the dialog is slightly different with a new lead character, but without spoiling too much, the storyline doesn't really diverge until near the end. Then, it gets a lot more interesting.
Ultimately, though, Frank just doesn't really fit as well into this story as Chuck Greene did. This version of Frank doesn't feel like the real thing from Dead Rising 1 or Case West, which is odd since Off the Record and Case West have the same writer. His reactions are less believable, and he spews far too many (grudgingly amusing) one-liners for my taste. He still has the same great voice actor, Terence J. Rotolo, but fans who buy this game just for Frank may be in for a bit of a letdown.
Frank's camera returns as another method of earning experience points and Achievements, but to be honest, I often forgot that it was there. Using it is still fun, though, and the interface has been jazzed up a little since DR1. The sidequest where you can photograph special PP stickers hidden all over the city remains an obscure annoyance.
With that out of the way, Off the Record improves a lot on the DR formula, without changing it. You no longer have to choose missions from a realtime menu, there are checkpoints, and grappling with the series' notoriously annoying transceiver isn't an issue since Frank receives a hands-free headset right off the bat.
The other main addition is Infinity Mode, where you can cast off the chains of the story mode and annoying survivors for special challenges scattered around Fortune City. Unfortunately, my initial taste of Infinity Mode was bitter, because my level was too low to complete challenges. Coming back to it after completing the story mode is more enjoyable, however. The challenges are a fun and occasionally bawdy (like "Stiff Back", where - oh, I'll let you find out) way of testing your zombie slaughtering skills. It does drag a bit between challenges where you have to kill a fixed number of zombies to unlock the next one.
After waiting four years for Dead Rising to come out of its sequel limbo, I thought that I couldn't get enough of the series, but after Off the Record, I think that Capcom Vancouver should perhaps let the world wait a spell before unleashing the zombie horde yet again, and make Dead Rising 3 something really special.