What's new this time around? Actually, not that much. The vast majority of the game is unchanged. Even the inclusion of Frank this time around doesn't change up much of the story or cutscenes -- it's as if Chuck and Frank are interchangeable, as most characters spout off the same dialogue they did in the original, despite the fact that they're delivering said dialogue to an entirely different character.
A new checkpoint system alleviates some of the problems of the game's save system, which asks you find a restroom any time you want to save (outside of the save prompts that come up after crucial plot missions and cutscenes). However, if you turn the game off, the checkpoint is erased -- it's a system designed to kick in if you die. But in the end, you still need to find a bathroom for a legitimate save.
A new game area and a few additional psychopath fights spice things up a tad, along with Frank's photog skills, but in the end it doesn't do much to extend the experience in a meaningful way. These end up being quick, one-off experiences without much lasting appeal.
Sandbox mode, which replaces the Terror Is Reality multiplayer in Dead Rising 2, offers challenges to Frank, each unlocking after a requisite action is performed. For example, once you kill 100 zombies in this free-roaming, no-timer mode, a challenge unlocks that tasks Frank with killing as many zombies as he can in a 30-second window. Most of these challenges lack any real ingenuity, but it's nice to have a mode where you can freely explore Fortune City and not feel the continuous pressure of the clock.
How's it hold up? It's only been a year since the original launched and the formula for fun is still the same: drop player off in giant area full of zombies and weapons and let them go to work. It's still fun to de-brain hordes of the undead.
But, a year later, the game still has the same hiccups. The frame rate drops in areas where a lot of zombies are packed in and you're trying to fight your way through. Every time you save or load up a new area, the game freezes for a few seconds -- personally, this was the scariest thing in the game for me. At first, I didn't know if my Xbox froze or if it was simply the game.
Ultimately, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record feels like a quick cash-in -- some improvements validate its existence, but none of these re-invent the experience or even offer anything substantially new. Diehard fans will feel vindicated in their purchase, but for those who played Dead Rising 2 and weren't completely seduced by its spell of unchecked slaughter, it's hardly worth the price of admission.