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E3 2011 hands-on: Dead Rising 2 Off the Record

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E3 is full of strange things, but I couldn’t shake the odd sense of deja vu I had whenever I passed by Dead Rising 2 Off the Record, which was playable at Capcom’s booth. When I finally stopped to give it a try, I learned why my spider sense had been tingling: Dead Rising 2 came out last year. Off the Record is a remastering of sorts, with a few tweaks and an extra level. When I asked why the game needed to be remade so soon, I was told that the team (or more likely, Capcom) thought Dead Rising 2 was too serious. Their solution, rip out the game’s more serious main character–a family man named Chuck Greene who wants to save his daughter–and replace him with Frank West, the zombie-killing photojournalist from the original Dead Rising.

Essentially, Off the Record takes the campaign mode of Dead Rising 2 and alters the story line to fit Frank West in, eliminating much of the emotional nature of the quests in the original Dead Rising 2 with a greater emphasis on taking your time to enjoy all of the fun zombie killing. New areas, weapons, vehicles, and items are available, like the mall we played in, which was packed with hundreds of zombies and at least as many ways to kill them. Photos are back as well, allowing you to take photos of your shenanigans and have them graded on a number of categories like horror, drama, erotica, humor, and brutality.

The gameplay in the demo was simple enough. You walked around and can pick up just about anything, from a knife to a park bench, and swing it at zombies. It’s all about having fun with murder (well, murder of the undead…if that’s really murder). The mechanics are pretty simple and its a lot of fun to mow zombies down, but if you’re hoping for a visual stunner or a new game, this isn’t it. Off the Record looks like its should have been released about six years ago. It lacks a lot of the visual flourishes we’ve come to expect from modern console games.

If you’ve ever wondered how many ways you could kill a zombie, the Dead Rising series is probably your best chance at finding out. The series is the Dead Alive of zombie killing games. Your character actually gets so bloody that his clothes auto clean themselves every few minutes so you don’t think you’re permanently wearing red.

Dead Rising 2 Off the Record will hit PS3, Xbox, and PC this fall. If you haven’t already played a Dead Rising game, there are worse ways you could kill an evening.