Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Remaster Review (XONE)

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is remembered as the red-headed stepchild of the Dead Rising series with easily the lowest review scores.  Looking at it five years later with the controversy surrounding its release (more on that below) only a distant memory, however, you can look at Dead Rising 2: Off the Record from a different angle.  A fresh new angle where, from just about every objective metric, Off the Record is a better all around game than the original Dead Rising 2.  We explain why, and take a look at the new remastered version of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, right here.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom Vancouver, Mercenary Techonology
  • ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
  • Genre: Third-Person-Action
  • Pros: Sandbox mode; Frank West; improved difficulty balance
  • Cons: Same base game as Dead Rising 2
  • MSRP: $20

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record was released for PS3 and Xbox 360 on October 11, 2011, only a little over a year after Dead Rising 2.  This was controversial and contributed to the poor reviews of Off the Record because it was essentially the same exact game as Dead Rising 2 but with Frank West (from Dead Rising 1) as the playable character instead of Chuck Greene.  The core story was the same.  The casino / mall map was the same, though it did have a new amusement park area.  And the core gameplay was the same.  It was just a character swap, and no one wanted to pay $40 to play through all of the same stuff again just a year later.  At the time this was very frustrating for fans of the series and, thus, earned it the poor reviews (including from me for About.com). 

Now that the dust has settled a bit and we don’t have to be mad that the same game got released two years in a row, I can look back on Dead Rising 2: Off the Record quite a bit more fondly.  Yeah, it was 90% the same game, but it made some enhancements, too.  The psychopath boss fights that were so awful in the original Dead Rising 2 were re-balanced here and not nearly as frustrating.  There were some new weapon combos that were cool.  And, darn it, Frank West is just better than Chuck.

See our reviews of the Dead Rising 1 and Dead Rising 2 remasters!

Off the Record also added a very important new mode to the series in the form of a sandbox mode that was open right from the start.  Now you didn’t have to play through the story at all if you didn’t want to and could freely run around and explore and kill zombies and have fun with no time limit and no progression-killing boss fights getting in your way.  Even better, your XP and upgrades carried over between the sandbox mode and story mode, so you could power up by playing in the sandbox and then go into the story mode fully upgraded and ready to kick zombie butt. 

These enhancements and additions on top of the already stellar Dead Rising 2 gameplay make Dead Rising 2: Off the Record easily the superior game.  It deserved the poor reviews back in 2011, but it is 2016 now and I’m telling you that Off the Record shouldn’t be remembered as a bad idea and the worst Dead Rising game.  It’s actually awesome.  I still think Dead Rising 1 is a little better – better map and much better psychopaths – but Dead Rising 2: Off the Record easily slots into the #2 position behind it (at least as far as last-gen Dead Rising games go). 

As for the remastered version of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, nothing was changed or added though it does include the DLC costumes / weapons unlocked from the start.  It is just a cleaner looking and better performing re-release of the same experience as you had on last gen.  It does look great in 1080p and 60FPS, though, and the outdoor areas full of hundreds upon hundreds of zombies are pretty impressive.  It also features the same Xbox Live co-op functionality as the original release.

Forget about what you might have heard or what last gen reviews of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record say, I’m telling you right now that might actually be the secret best Dead Rising game of them all.  It takes the solid gameplay base of Dead Rising 2 and adds to it while also featuring much better difficulty balance overall.  It also was the first Dead Rising with a real sandbox mode, which makes it worth a play all by itself because goofing off in these games is a ton of fun.  It isn’t the canon “real” Dead Rising 2 as far as the series storline goes, but as a game you just want to have fun with I’d recommend Off the Record over vanilla DR2 every time.  If you’re looking to buy the remasters, do yourself a favor and buy the original Dead Rising and Off the Record, but skip vanilla DR2. 
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.