Dead Rising 2: Off the Record Sandbox Mode Impressions -- All Zombies, No LimitsBy Eric Eckstein - Posted Sep 12, 2011
I was a big fan of Dead Rising 2, but after toying around with the new sandbox mode for Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, I'm even more enthused for the spin-off/sequel. For fans that hated the missions and timed challenges that could derail the storyline of the previous game (i.e. anyone who isn't a glutton for frustration), DR2: Off the Record's sandbox mode is absolutely for you.
Similar to the Infinity modes in Dead Rising, players have an entire city of zombies to explore without any of the time-based negatives. Better yet, team up with a friend and go shopping or zombie hunting, thanks to the co-op integration in the game. Just keep an eye on your health as you'll need to eat every so often.
Beyond mindless objectiveless gameplay, Off the Record's sandbox mode also offers unique challenges that can be accomplished to earn medals and level up. Medals are awarded at a Bronze, Silver, and Gold level, which are met by hitting different tiers. For example, in one challenge where Frank needs to kill a number of zombies within a certain time limit, reaching 50 kills nets a Bronze, while 200 is required for Silver.
Other challenges included photography-based PP (Prestige Points) gathering, carnage-focused PP accumulation, and vehicle-centric events to boot. Expect to have to juggle lots of different types of gameplay to master the challenges inside. Plus, certain challenges only unlock after you've reached a particular zombie kill count, which adds a nice zombie blood-covered carrot to keep you killing with purpose.
While the entire game map is open to you, we spent most of our time in the amusement park portion known as Uranus Zone. What makes this section particular enjoyable are the numerous rides that you can use to decimate large numbers of infected without lifting a finger. Plus, it’s just joyous to watch crowds of zombies be sliced in half by spinning teacups or tossed miles into the air/crushed by a Drop Tower. Ah, childhood memories.
In our hands-on with Sandbox Mode, I found it to be fun to kill hordes of zombies for a few minutes, but honestly, without the driving narrative or missions looming, it felt a bit dry. I know people have clamored for a sandbox mode for some time, so I imagine there's a real market for the content, but I'm one of the few that actually likes rescuing survivors and having a story to follow. Without that impetus in place, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record lost its luster after 20 mins of sandbox play, but perhaps that's because I was playing an unfinished version of the game, and there will be more unique challenges baked into the final version.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record comes out on October 11.