Be careful what you wish for. Since Dead Rising’s release in 2006, players have been clamoring for a sandbox mode. In Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, you finally have a chance to tear through Fortune City without a leash pulling you through, and it’s now clear why such an option was absent in the past. It’s boring. Finicky controls and shallow combat have been a part of the series since the beginning, but it was possible to look past these problems because you were constantly pushed from one ticking objective to the next. Once the handcuffs are removed in Off the Record, these quirks become more apparent, and it only takes so long before the thrill of killing zombies dissipates. Story mode isn’t much of a draw for series veterans, either, because it’s virtually an identical retread of Dead Rising 2. For people who have never touched a Dead Rising game before, Off the Record is as good a place to start as any, but it’s far too similar to the previous game to make it exciting for longtime fans or those who have never had interest in these wacky adventures.
After breaking the scoop on the Wilmette zombie outbreak at the end of Dead Rising, Frank West entered a life few are privileged to enjoy. Fame and fortune followed his every step, models hung from his arms like soft salamis, and the world was his for the taking. But any journalist worth his salt knows that the truth is more important than dollars and dolls, so Frank RSVPs “no” to the many party invitations flooding his inbox and sets out to Fortune City to uncover who is ultimately behind the zombie epidemic. Frank seamlessly replaces Chuck in Dead Rising 2’s conspiratorial events, appearing in mostly the same cutscenes and conversing with the same characters from the previous game. Despite a new protagonist, the situations are largely the same despite a few twists, and the sense of deja vu makes it difficult to care about how these scenes unfold.