Originally Published: 21 October 2011
Have you ever seen the film Sliding Doors? Gwyneth Paltrow runs for the tube and the doors slam in her face. She’s missed the tube home and she’s terribly sad. But in a parallel universe, she managed to catch the train and everything was great. And then she was run over by a van. Dead Rising 2: Off The Record is like that. It takes the Fortune City Outbreak and has a look at it from Frank West’s perspective, albeit with a completely new area which Chuck Greene never noticed, and some subtle changes in the storyline.
I never liked Frank West. I’ll be honest. I always thought he was a bit of a twat. At least Chuck had Katey to keep his head on straight. The opening scenes of Off The Record prove that yes, Frank West was a twat. He milked his survival of the first outbreak for all it was worth and then it all went wrong and he ended up sitting in his pants watching TV in the dark. Seeing an advert for Terror Is Reality, the game show run from Fortune City, he thinks he’s got a way to make a quick buck. And then that all goes wrong.
If you’ve played Dead Rising 2 already, you’ll know what happens. A bomb goes off, all the zombies get out and the shit hits the fan (and spiked baseball bats hit the zombies), but where it was once “Chuck” who planted the bomb and was fighting to clear his name, now it’s someone else and Frank is just trying to cover the story to get back in the game.
The game itself plays out along the same lines. You’ll encounter the same characters and the same situations, some in slightly different places, as you did in Dead Rising 2 and you’ll feel, for a while at least, that what you’re playing is just some DLC that someone’s put on a disc for you to save you the effort of downloading it. That’s what it is really. It doesn’t add anything to the story and it doesn’t really tie in with what’s gone before, or comes after. Case: West doesn’t tie in here, because Chuck has no need to clear his name. Plus Frank is tasked with kicking the crap out of him fairly early on.
There’s still the time pressures you’ve grown to know and love from the Dead Rising games, and there’s still the need to find Zombrex. But this time it’s for Frank who’s been nibbled on, which took away a bit of the magic of Dead Rising 2 for me. I didn’t really feel the emotional attachment to the time-sensitive scramble for the drug as I did before. But maybe that’s because I still think Frank West’s a bit of a twat.
Having said all that, I bloody love the game. The new area, Uranus Zone, is full of fairground rides that you can use to slice-and-dice the shuffling legions of the undead. Everything in there – as you’d imagine – is vaguely space themed, which allows you to dress Frank, should you so desire, as some kind of space babe circa 1960. It’s got all the combo weapons from Dead Rising 2, so if you know what you’re doing you can get right in there with your torch+gem combo, plus a healthy collection of new ones to keep the zombie killing fresh. There’s also a Sandbox mode where you can just mess around to your heart’s content and take part in various zombie slaying challenges for money and medals, and a co-op mode, in which you team up with Chuck, to battle Fortune City’s zombie hordes. I haven’t played the co-op mode so I’m not sure what happens when the two of you – Frank and Chuck – encounter psycho-Chuck on the evening of the first day. It could be that, as there’s already so many paradoxes floating around as it is, the zombies all explode in a puff of logic and are replaced by fire-breathing unicorns. It could be that. It probably isn’t. But it makes it worth checking out, huh?
It’s Dead Rising 2 but with the story coming at you from Frank West’s perspective. Once you get away from the notion that it’s basically a hefty lump of packaged DLC you’ll have a lot of zombie-slaying fun, even if you’ve done it all before.