As I got ready to play Dead Rising 2: Off the Record at Capcom’s E3 booth the other day, the Capcom representative informed me that the game was an attempt to lighten up the tone of Dead Rising 2, which often revolved around the potential death of protagonist Chuck Greene’s daughter. Instead of worrying the player about finding medicine for ailing children, Off the Record is about making the zombie apocalypse fun again, and a big part of that is the return of Frank West, the pudgy, photography-inclined hero from the first Dead Rising.
Off the Record essentially takes place in Frank’s imagination, a world in which he’s the hero of Dead Rising 2 instead of Chuck. The Capcom employee told me that Chuck’s friends may become Frank’s enemies and different people may live or die than in the original game. It’s entirely non-canon and ridiculous, and that’s just the way I like it.
The demo was set in an area called "Uranus Zone," a space-themed amusement park with really cheery background music reminiscent of Dawn of the Dead’s "the Gonk" filled with a bizarre assortment of surprisingly dangerous items scattered around. With the Capcom rep’s invitation to "have fun," I immediately leapt into action, initially finding a shotgun, picking it up with B (on the 360 controller, circle with the Dualshock), and firing it into the crowd of zombies at random (with X, square on the dualshock), killing some and taking limbs off of others in the process. Eventually, I grew tired of such a mundane weapon, instead picking up what appeared to be a hobby horse with a unicorn horn on it and running a zombie through with it, before the horn ignited (ohh, so it was a rocket!) and launched the zombie into the stratosphere.
After similarly dispatching a few more zombies, I remembered that Frank West was a photographer. Just as in the first game, Frank is rewarded with experience points for taking pictures that are horrific, erotic, or otherwise quirky. While my first couple of pictures were pretty uneventful, I quickly found some alien heads to put on the horde and took a picture that granted me extra comedy points. However, since the demo put me at level 20, there wasn’t really any tangible benefit to doing so, aside from the fact that it’s fun to put a barrel with spinning rockets tied to it around it over a zombie’s head, snapping pictures of it while it’s floating around in a small room, veering off in random directions.
I don’t really know what I can say about Off the Record aside from the fact that it’s Dead Rising 1’s skill in Dead Rising 2’s setting. It’s more Dead Rising with a bigger focus on fun, and although the demo didn’t have any dialogue in it, what the Capcom rep told me about the story piqued my interest.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record will be out this Autumn on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.