Dead Rising 2: Off the Record First Look Preview

More than a simple director's cut, Off the Record sees the return of Frank West as the main hero of the series.


Maybe you prefer the quiet artistry of a good photograph to the adrenaline rush of riding a dirt bike. Maybe garish yellow leather jackets just aren't your thing, and you simply couldn't care less about the concerns of a single father trying to raise a child amidst a zombie apocalypse. Well, those are weirdly specific preferences you have, but, hey, have no fear! It turns out Capcom cares about your type--the type who clearly prefers Dead Rising star Frank West to Dead Rising 2's Chuck Greene. See, according to Capcom Vancouver executive producer Jason Leigh, there was so much fan feedback from Frank West diehards that the developer decided to do something slightly wacky with the upcoming Dead Rising 2 director's cut: swap out heroes.

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Enter Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. You can think of this director's cut version of last year's zombie slayer as an alternate-reality exercise in "What if?" Instead of playing as Chuck Greene throughout the course of the game's adventure, you play as Frank West, the photojournalist star of the original Dead Rising. It's largely the same game, retrofitted with a few story and gameplay differences that mostly arise out of the change in protagonists. In terms of story, it turns out Frank's star burned a little too bright after the big scoop he broke in the original Dead Rising. Now, Frank's a has-been former celebrity trying to get his career back on the upswing. So what does he do? Reality television, of course.

Capcom showed us the first 10 or so minutes of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, suggesting that this is not merely a palette swap. Frank West begins Dead Rising 2 on the zombie-killing television show Terror Is Reality, only his adventures at the start of the game go a bit differently from Chuck's. Wearing form-fitting wrestling tights that reveal just how pudgy Frank has become, he begins taking out zombies in a mock wrestling ring with chairs, suplexes, and whatever other weapons he can use. (Including sweet, sweet fire.) Even though Frank survives the bout, he gets thoroughly mocked by the host for his sad state of weight gain, hair loss, and fading celebrity--a Pyrrhic victory of sorts.

Frank instantly regrets his decision to appear on Terror Is Reality and suddenly wants to get the hell out of there. He leaves the dressing room and stumbles upon the host TK in a clandestine meeting, which serves as a tutorial for reintroducing you to the photography mechanics of the original Dead Rising. At any time, you can take photos of various objects for PP (experience points, essentially) that are all divided into categories like horror, brutality, and humor. In this case, it's getting the scoop on this shady business deal as a little retribution for being so thoroughly mocked on television.

Wrestling move or hug gone horribly, horribly wrong?
Wrestling move or hug gone horribly, horribly wrong?

Naturally, your photography session doesn't last long before the zombie outbreak that kicked off the original Dead Rising 2 also occurs. This is where the game begins to more closely resemble Chuck's adventure, though with a few changes here and there. A number of winks and nods litter the hallways, like a poster of Chuck with his face covered up and a disused Game Boy-like device lying on the ground that looks an awful lot like Katie's. Frank's also got a couple of new abilities for dealing with zombies, like one silly move where he grabs a zombie and poses next to it while taking its picture--the result being a terrifying shot not unlike your average MySpace photo.

There are a number of differences apart from the way the story unfolds. "This is still the world of Fortune City, but we've made sure to go in and freshen it up," said executive producer Jason Leigh. You'll find new weapons, outfits, psychopaths, and other various knickknacks spread throughout this fictional Nevada resort. And continuing the tweaks made to the save system, there will now be checkpoints that autosave whenever you enter a new area, complete a story event, or defeat a psychopath. Beyond that, there's also been some tuning to the effectiveness of various weapons and psychopath difficulty levels. Leigh didn't get into specifics on what's been altered, only saying that a lot of dials are being turned.

Yes, the camera is back. With surprisingly little zombie blood on it!
Yes, the camera is back. With surprisingly little zombie blood on it!

So that leaves us with the big question: How much is Dead Rising 2: Off the Record going to cost? Sadly, that wasn't revealed. Capcom did state that the game would be "appropriately priced," but it failed to go into anything more concrete than that. It will be a shame if Capcom winds up charging full price for a director's cut of a game that came out last year, even with some pretty inspired changes made to the core of the game. In any event, we're talking about the successor to the game that won GameSpot's Funniest Game of 2010, so we're obviously eager to see more of the hijinks that Capcom Vancouver has in store here. Stay tuned.

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