TSA Goes Off The Record With Capcom’s Jason Leigh

Announced at this year’s Captivate event back in April, Capcom Vancouver’s Dead Rising 2: Off The Record is due to launch next month, and we suspect there are still a number of you either unaware or cautious as to what this enhanced version of the game will actually bring to the table. Truth be told, we were also sceptical, so when Capcom invited TSA for a session with the game’s Executive Producer, Jason Leigh, we leapt at the opportunity.

“Off The Record is a re-imagining of Dead Rising 2,” Leigh began, “this time we’re bringing Frank West back from [the original] Dead Rising. There was a bit of a surprise around Dead Rising 2 when we had Chuck Greene as the hero. There was originally going to be a director’s cut, but instead we re-envisioned the game with Frank in it. So he’s back with his camera and so on with gameplay features from the original Dead Rising.”

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Despite West now being in the driver’s seat, Chuck Greene hasn’t been completely removed from the game. He still plays an important role in the story, which Leigh wasn’t quite ready to discuss, and will also stand in as the co-op character, both zombie-slaying protagonists having their own unique animations.

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[boxout]One part of the game Leigh was anxious to show us was the recently announced Sandbox Mode. ” This is a nod towards the Infinity Mode you unlocked in Dead Rising,” he explained, “in Infinity Mode your life constantly depleted, you were constantly looking around for food. In Sandbox Mode there is no timer, no story or health depletion. The whole world is immediately unlocked and yours to explore.”

Thankfully there is a cross-connection between sandbox and the regular story-driven singleplayer component. Each save slot you maintain will be divided into two portions, allocated to both game types; whether you start off in sandbox or story mode is entirely up to you. Character level, Prestige Points, Combo Cards and cash will be transferable between the two, Leigh mentioning that players could essentially max out Frank West before making even a shred of progress in the main game.

[drop2]There’s literally hours upon hours of content to explore in Sandbox Mode, extended by dozens of subtle hidden objectives and Easter eggs. However, if you’re a gamer who craves some form of structure, even in a free-roam environment, there is also a horde of challenges to interactive with. “We have a whole set of challenges here, 30 singleplayer challenges and 30 co-op challenges. And it’s not just “kill zombies,” it’s kill zombies, collect items, race challenges… there’s even camera challenges.”

The challenge we were shown was one of the first, taking place on a rooftop where Sandbox Mode begins. The player is given is set time limit to kill as many zombies as possible with cash prizes for meeting bronze, silver and gold criteria. Leigh explained that the challenges are completely optional, though it’s likely players will be drawn by competitive elements such as score chasing with friends and uploading records to online leaderboards.

A number of staff members back at Capcom Vancouver have already been formulating meticulous strategies to ensure victory, weapon preparation being a key factor. Challenges are scattered around the game world and will require unlocking. However, this is as simple as racking up kills, a pass time which Sandbox Mode entirely focused on.

One of the mechanics that players missed in Dead Rising 2 was the use of Frank’s camera, something which wasn’t exactly remedied in the Case West downloadable episode. “This time around we have all the PP categories from Dead Rising,” Leigh confirmed; horror, brutality, outtake, and erotica-themed points of interest all add a healthy bonus to your snapshots, Jason being all to happy to demonstrate the last category for us. It goes without saying that the camera brings back a much-needed element of variety to the gameplay, and for those who deem themselves completionists there are also plenty of rare shots to be found, all of which yield generous helping of Prestige Points.

Off The Record doesn’t exactly take itself too seriously, something which become immediately noticeable from the opening strands of dialogue. Essentially acting as a lost chapter in Dead Rising fiction, we imagine there was plenty of free reign to go completely over the top.

“We’ve added so much to the game,” Jason stressed, “new weapons, items, clothing, food, survivors and so on, but we knew what the fans would want most and that is new Psychopaths. Already wacky and audatious we really want to up the bar in Off The Record.”

[drop]For those who are unaware Psychopaths are optional side bosses who reign over certain sections of Fortune City (there were also a number of them in the original Dead Rising) and for many players they have proved to be somewhat of a highlight. We were shown one of the recently announced Psychopaths in the game, an ice cream-loving clown on stilts who announces himself as the brother of Adam MacIntyre, the chainsaw wielding clown from the original game who met a gruesome end after encountering Frank at Willamette.

Content-wise, the Uranus Zone is by far the biggest addition in Off The Record. A fraction larger than an average in-game casino, it’s chock full of all-new weapons, costumes and various unique attractions. “The Uranus Zone has been fully integrated into the [existing] game world. Anybody who has played Dead Rising 2 will appreciate the inclusion of a new area but for those who haven’t played it will never know it wasn’t there originally, it’s been that well integrated.”

Recalling the Laser Sword from previous Dead Rising instalments, Leigh showed off one of OTR’s newest additions to the existing armoury, Laser Eyes. Swiftly combining a costume alien head with a fistful of gems, Frank now had a weapon of mass destruction suspended between his shoulders, capable of frying zombies from afar which Jason then upgraded, allowing the helmet to spew a deadly arc of concentrated energy.

Theme park rides and carnival games are also a new focus within the Uranus Zone. “Whack a mole” and other classics are present here and, like other elements of the game, specific contextual actions in this area will reveal hidden bonuses. On the other hand we have the rides, huge constructs with potential to deal out mass destruction; by removing the safety fencing around them players can use flares and other items, luring undead hordes into a certified kill zone. Though we didn’t actually get to see one in action it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture what happens when a brain-nibbling meat bag steps into the path of colossal pendulum.

If you scour the depths of our filth-laden comment archive, you will come to the conclusion that I wasn’t all too enthusiastic with Dead Rising 2 and all because of one reason – limitations. In a game that featured such a detailed open world, all I wanted to do was explore without being held back by timers or scavenging for Zombrex. I wanted to deal with the single player missions when it suited me and that’s exactly what Off The Record brings to the experience; you can finally play one of this generation’s most diverse and demented games exactly how it was intended.

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16 Comments

  1. This is sounding very interesting! I loved the original Dead Rising. Never got around to buying the second though. Is this a disc based release or an expansion to Dead Rising 2? Will it include the original with it? Not sure whether to wait and get this, get the original or get both!

  2. The last 2 sentances hit the nail on the head for me with DR2. Seeing as this is going to be cheap, and “fixes” some of what I didn’t like in DR2, I may well give it a go.

    • …Play.com have it for £24.99, but can see this going well under £19.99 by Christmas, especially with MW3, BF3, Skyrim, Uncharted 3 etc

      • Zavvi has the original DR2 for £9.85. Can’t go wrong with that price.

      • Indeed – worth picking up for that price!

  3. Even if it was DLC it would be too late for me as i tired of the game pretty quickly due to the reasons you outlined and traded it in. Shame this wasn’t the original version as it sounds much better but i’m in no rush to get it.

  4. Played the first, didn’t like the sound of the second, due to the timings and stuff, this sounds much better, funny (in parts) trailer too..

  5. Dead Rising never really got my interest.
    Then again, the only horror games that have ever captured my attention enough to go again with a sequel were Resident Evil and Silent Hill.
    Although I’ll probably add Dead Space to the list if I see DS2 cheap in a shop someday…

    • You should definately try DS2, it’s been my favourite game this year (so far), and there have been some decent games. Less tense and more “shooty” than the first one, with much more level/location variety.

      • I liked the tense-ness of the first one though.
        And the fact Isaac didn’t speak.
        Still, I reckon I’ll come to enjoy DS2 when I eventually get around to it.

  6. Dead Rising is one of my favourite Xbox 360 games, but I never picked up the 2nd due to the timers and limitations, as you’ve said. Will pick this up now, though, as it looks awesome.

    • The first was heavily based around timers as well though? It was incredibly difficult to save everyone and continue the story missions due to some narrow timing windows.

      • Wasn’t half as bad though, and there was still time to go around and explore if you wanted, it was possible.

  7. Cheap, loads of features and baby-mode saving. Love it.

  8. I hope they fixed the silly loading-every-5-seconds

  9. Some well needed changes, Dead Rising 2 was absolutely terrible. I disagree with your last comment about now being able to play how it was intended. How it was released originally was obviously how it was intended, else they wouldn’t have done it. They’ve done this because they realised what a horrific mistake their original intent was, and are seeking to fix that. And make some more cash, of course.

    If I’m honest there’s still no way I will buy this, no matter how much they claim to have fixed.

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