One strange animal
OK let me preface this by saying that I am a Dead Rising fanboy. A major one. I am well aware of all the games flaws and issues and I couldn't care less. I enjoyed the first Dead Rising like no game before it. As a huge fan of Romero films and zombie fiction of all kinds, Dead Rising was the first game I felt truly captured the feeling of an oppressive "Zombie Event". And of course the parallels to Dawn of the Dead didn't hurt it either. The original Dawn is a timeless classic that has been a high water mark for decades and it's remake holds the unique position of being just as good as the film that it's based on.
Fast Forward from 2006 to 2010 and Dead Rising 2. I was initially shocked that Frank was not planned for the sequel of Dead Rising. But with time and some gameplay I warmed up to Chuck Green. The Combo Weapon system was great and the irreverant humor from the original was well intact. For my money, it was another success. But I never did stop missing Frank despite putting upwards of 30 hours into DR2 and even more into Case Zero and Case West.
Now on to the reason for this write up, Off the Record (hereafter; 'OtR'). OtR is a curious title, even for me. Being the big fan of zombie games, of Dead Rising 1, and of Frank West, I was on board with this one from the word GO. The problem though, is who other than me would even consider this game a valid purchase? And releasing in one of the most cluttered fall release schedules since 2007? This game just doesn't seem to have an audience outside of the insane DR fans like myself, and even for us it's starting to feel like Capcom is pulling another Street FIghter 2 here with constant reiterations instead of moving on. And all in the span of 13 months.
The game itself is pretty great. The same formula that made the other Dead Rising products enjoyable is still here with some nice new additions. Serious fans will enjoy the subtle changes to make the protagonist swap fit and there have been adjustments to the looters and the zombies seem more aggressive than in the other DR games. New combo weapons and the return of the camera mechanic round out a pretty impressive list of "Pros" for this game.
The issue at hand though, is the list of "Cons". No matter how fun it may be, if you played DR2 proper, this is just not enough of an upgrade for the casual fan to embrace. The hardcore DR nut will love OtR but I wonder just how many of us there are and if we number high enough to make this game profitable?
I've been a big supporter of this series. And I've always done my best to try and steer people to playing it. Forum posts asking "What 360 games should I play?" always see me trumpetting Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2's greatness. This game though, I just don't think I can be it's emmisary. I cannot "sell" this game to people. If you're on board, you were already on board and if you're on the fence, I'm not going to be trying to push you over. It is a good game. And on paper it's probably the best Dead Rising to date. But even with all the good stuff it has to offer (not the least of which is finally adding the checkpoint system fans have been wanting since 2006!), I just can't push a game like this. While it's a 5 star for me personally, I can't even imagine that anyone else would share that view of this one.
To Bottom Line it, it's a great fun romp though a zombie outbreak with a charasmatic protagonist. It's just that the romp is basically the same one you took last year with DR2 proper. OtR can only truly be recommended to either those who never played DR2, or who are major Frank West fans who are willing to overlook the fact that they already played this game a year ago. It's definately a curious animal, but I doubt most people will feel the need to have it on their mantle.