The hero of "Dead Rising 2," an extreme sports aficionado named Chuck Greene, was not welcomed with open arms at first. Fans of the franchise had grown to love another man, a photojournalist named Frank West, who had saved dozens (or, in some cases, three) from Willamette Mall in the original game. But for the sequel, he was replaced. Fans were not happy. And while Frank did return for the post-release DLC, it wasn't the same as having him star in his own game. So Capcom is giving him just that: "Dead Rising 2: Off the Record."
"Dead Rising 2: Off The Record" isn't a full sequel. Instead it's a re-imagining of the events of "Dead Rising 2." What if, rather than Chuck Greene, it was Frank West in the spotlight? Instead of the courageous Greene, participating in the "Terror is Reality" game show to make money for his sick daughter, it's West, who's just in it to make a buck for himself. Seems he got famous after he scooped the world at Willamette Mall, but the intervening years were not kind and now he's in his "Celebrity Rehab" phase. He has a gut. It's not pretty.
The entire story has been reworked with new cutscenes, missions and gameplay enhancements. Frank's trusty camera returns with all the features it had in the original "Dead Rising." You can earn experience by taking shots of massive crowds of zombies or just a few zombies with funny hats on. There's even a special move where Frank flips the camera around, puts his arm around a member of the undead, and snaps away, Facetime-style.
Thankfully improvements that were introduced in "Dead Rising 2" aren't being abandoned. You can still combine two random objects to make combo weapons, and a handful of new recipes have been added in "Off the Record." Co-op is also back, with one player taking control of Frank while the other plays as Chuck.
One thing that has caught a lot of flak in "DR2" was the save system, which was mostly unchanged between the first and second games. In "Dead Rising 2: Off the Record," the save system is much kinder, complete with an auto-save whenever you change zones or encounter a boss fight. The load times were also a point of contention in the last game, but Jason Leigh, the game's producer at Capcom Vancouver (formally Blue Castle Games), has promised shorter load times when jumping from zone to zone.
And speaking of zones, there's a brand new one in "Off the Record." Leigh was cagey about the details, but he did confirm that the new zone is larger than any of the malls or casinos from "Dead Rising 2." My money's on an amusement park.
The last major different between "Dead Rising 2" and "Off the Record" is the inclusion of a new mode. Again, Leigh isn't giving any details, apart from saying that it's "something the fans have been asking for since the first game." He went on to say that it's "as big, if not bigger, than the story mode." Intriguing indeed.
And now we get to the heart of the matter...how much is this thing going to cost? Well, first of all, "Off the Record" won't be released as DLC, so you'll need to buy a new disc, even if you already bought "Dead Rising 2." Again, Capcom isn't giving a specific price, but my money's on $40. "Super Street Fighter 4" came in at $30, and there's a lot more new content to be found in "Off the Record" than there was in that release. It's a bit disappointing that they didn't go DLC with "Off the Record," but the scope of that new mode is really going to determine the value here. The game is scheduled for a fall release on 360, PS3 and PC and we should be getting more info as we get deeper into the year.