Is Dead Rising 2: Off The Record a true retail title, or a glorified re-release? I sat down with Capcom to take a look at the next entry in the Dead Rising franchise.

Back when Dead Rising 2 launched in September 2010, Capcom addressed many issues with it’s predecessor. They tweaked the controls, added save slots, more accessible save points, the ability to enter “Free” mode where you can  ignore the main story and do what ever you want. These fixes were great, especially since the added co-op mode. The game received generally favorable reviews including an 8.5 from us, however many fans were disappointed that the games original character Frank West had be replaced. So in Dead Rising 2: Off The Record you return to Fortune City and experience the outbreak through Franks eyes, and what he would have done. Having played all previous Dead Rising games including the downloadable arcade titles, I was pretty excited to give Off The Record a spin.

In the demo I was introduced to one of the games new areas: Uranus Zone a giant amusement park with a very unique feel to it compared to previous areas in Fortune City. It was filled with vibrant colors, wacky rides, vehicles and props to play around with. The vibe of the new environment felt great and definitely set itself apart from any previously released Dead Rising games, including the arcade titles.

Of course it wouldn’t be right to have the return of Frank West without his trusty camera, and this time it brings a little upgrade. Franks camera is now digital! Excited? Don’t be, it’s purely cosmetic and nothing about actually taking pictures has changed. Then again we’re talking about picture taking here so not much was needed to change. You still get tons of PP based on a head count of the zombies portrayed, not to mention anything else crazy going on in the picture. It’s definitely a nice return and very much appreciated. As I explored the amusement park I found all sorts of new combo weapons already created and pre-placed around the park for my enjoyment. One of the new combo weapons is a Cryo chamber which was easily the coolest one I played around with. Basically you hold X and prop the Cryo chamber on top of a zombie similar to a regular barrel in Dead Rising 2. Then shoots into the air freezing all nearby zombies while the zombie spins around in the air, trapped in a chamber.

Other combo weapons included strapping fireworks to a stick pony to send zombies soaring through the air, a tennis ball launcher which spun in circles shooting flaming tennis balls bouncing from zombie to zombie. Since this area is an amusement park I expected to have fun using the rides, and I did exactly that. I walked over to a firework booth, grabbed a few sets a firecrackers and got ready to have some zombie ass kicking fun. I proceeded to remove the barrier gates from the Swinging Ship and tossed a couple of firecrackers beneath the ride. The zombies immediately swarmed towards the ride and as the ship began to swing downwards, the zombies went flying in all different directions. I found another ride that was actually controllable. It was a giant alien spaceship, and upon pressing the control panel the ship lifted into the air and prepared to drop. Once again I tossed down a few sets of firecrackers, slammed the button on the control panel and down came the alien spaceship obliterating every zombie in its path.

The amusement park was filled with a variety of weapons to choose from, and tons of comical clothing items to let you attempt to make Frank as sexy as possible. Which lets be honest here, it’s not going to happen regardless of how many bathing suits you throw on him. I was also informed throughout the amusement park you can participate in classic carnival games such as “Ring the Bell”. Where the player uses a large mallet to strike a pivot board trying to move the indicator towards the top to ring the bell. Unfortunately my demo time was too short and I was unable to experience any of these carnival games which were explained to me. One thing that really stood out to me was when I found stacks of hundreds throughout the park I had nothing to spend it on and when I asked about purchasing items from something like a pawn shop which was in the previous games, the developer declined to comment.

The core of Dead Rising 2: Off The Record is very much like it’s predecessor. So much in fact that hardly anything has changed. The HUD got a more stylish make over, but everything else was left untouched. More save points were said to be added but the somewhat clunky controls are still present. You still navigate through your inventory using the left and right bumpers and according to the developer, no new actual gameplay mechanics will be added. Am I disappointed with what I’ve played thus far? In some ways yes, and others no.

I’ve always enjoyed the wacky, over the top comical gameplay Dead Rising has presented and it’s even more crazy in Off The Record. However I feel disappointed that hardly little change has come to the game despite all the new combo weapons, items and interactive environmental objects. These things are all great, but I was hoping for more. Thankfully Capcom has set the retail price at a suggested $39.99, which will lean more gamers towards a purchase. The real question is how much content will be added when the full game is released. How long will these new missions exclusively for Frank last? Will Dead Rising 2: Off The Record feel like a true retail game, or just a glorified re-release? We will find out in the coming months but as it stands, if you’re a hardcore Dead Rising fan you surely won’t be disappointed. If you’re not, you wont be missing much.