As a broke student I sold my Gamecube, DS and all my games to buy an Xbox Elite, ready to usher in the new world of gaming heaven. I had seen Dead or Alive 4 and knew I needed it. I liked the idea of a new Perfect Dark game (that one didn't turn out so well) and after years of enjoying the original Xbox was ready to follow where Microsoft were leading.
One of the most incredible things that I found during the early days of the 360 was the ability to download demos. Bear in mind I was using the cheapest internet connection I could find, in the days when ADSL was little more than a slightly more enthusiastic dial up, so demos could take the best part of a day to download. Moreover, when downloading a demo on the earliest version of the 360 dashboard, you couldn't do anything else. At all. You had to sit on the download screen. Doing nothing but waiting.
So, by the time I had downloaded a demo, I was sure as hell ready to play it.
One of the first demos I downloaded was Dead Rising. I still maintain it is one of the greatest demos ever made. With a set time limit and small area to explore you are dropped into the pure gameplay delights of killing zombies with whatever you can find. No story, no bullshit, no messing. Just you, the environment and the zombs.
Everything about Dead Rising screamed 'next-gen'. The graphics were beautiful, the amount of enemies on screen at once was unheard of and the ability to pluck things from the world around you felt like you were really interacting with the setting. Frank West is every bit the cocky, swaggering, me vs them, happy go lucky, death bringing buffoon that is totally perfect for the fun of killing zombies in a mall. In short, I loved that demo.
When the full game came out, I was first in line to pick it up. Pure, bitter disappointment filled me from the ankles upwards. The structure of the game seems purposefully designed to ruin everything that was awesome about the game. The time limit, the interruptions, the escort quests, the gun wielding enemies, the locked doors. It's like being pressed up, nose first to a window of a wonderful restaurant and not being allowed in. The game structure ruined the potential with a level of sabotage that I can still barely understand. It's like the makers of the game missed the point of their own creation. I cannot imagine how it happened.
Dead Rising 2 followed suit, despite being one of the first games I bought for my new PS3 back in 2010, it quickly found its way into the pre-owned pile of my local Gamestation. The elements are there, the ingredients for a perfect game are all in place but the fucking game won't LEAVE ME ALONE TO PLAY IT! It's like being on a date with your parents. Every time you think you might be about to enjoy yourself they come along to remind you of something you need to do, someone you need to help, how little time you have remaining and how you should really be thinking about the future. Video games are meant to be escapism; fun and a release from the structure and responsibilities of the real world. Why then, does Capcom insist on making their potentially most fun games feel like jobs?
Until. Finally. Capcom got it right.
I'd long given up on the Dead Rising series providing me with anything but frustration. I'd accepted that they were flawed by a basic disagreement between myself and the makers as to what these games should be. But then, a few weeks back, I spotted Dead Rising 2: Off the Record in the PSN store sale. I started to read up on the game, as that spark of love for the games still burned.
OFF THE RECORD HAS A SANDBOX MODE!
I can go anywhere, do anything, kill zombies however I feel, I don't have to rescue any stupid whining useless idiots, I don't have to collect keys or medicine or items or defeatJiimmy the Knob-Head who is wielding two massive guns but it's ok because I can heal myself by eating apples yet basically I have to chip away at his health. NOTHING. None of it. The crap of the game has all gone. And it's got Co-op!
Praise the Lord, for he has risen. Frank West is born again into a game that he truly deserves.
Buy Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. Buy it for sandbox mode alone. Buy it and kill zombies by the thousands with ludicrous contraptions.
And while you're doing it, get on Co-op mode and send me an invite.
Name: Ben Burns
Position: Staff Writer
Ben enjoys long walks in the park, helping the elderly, and moaning. Or if the mood takes him, moaning through the use of words.