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The Friday Releases You Ignored

The Friday Releases You Ignored

It wasn’t just Batman: Arkham City that was released on Friday! You could be forgiven for thinking it was the only game released ever judging by the insane amount of chatter on Twitter, Facebook and the loudest social network in the world, Imagine Publishing’s office kitchen.

Nope, it was other games as well. So here’s what you missed on Friday…

Dead Rising 2: Off The Record

There was a bit of controversy over Dead Rising 2: Off The Record in our office. By controversy, we mean socially awkward games journalists mildly disagreeing with each other rather than anything involving swears or blood.

For those who haven’t been keeping up to speed with Capcom’s title, it’s a retread of Dead Rising 2 through the eyes of Dead Rising’s original hero Frank West rather than Chuck Greene.

Play’s freelancer who reviewed it said that the amount of content didn’t really justify a new release and it felt like a cheeky cash grab albeit in the form of a new release rather than DLC (the full review will be in our issue that goes on sale Thursday). gamesTM argued otherwise, suggesting the fresh viewpoint made for a fresh experience and pointing out that the new content doesn’t really become apparent until you’ve made significant storyline progress.

Having personally played it, I agree with our review. Besides the fact I’m contractually obliged to anyway (ho ho!), it was disappointing to see the same psychopaths, the same cutscenes, the same survivors, the same outfits and the same dialogue crop up. Even the new area, Uranus Zone, has been populated with the same survivors (the failed comedians have been shifted there from the sex shop) and the same psychopath (Brandon from C.U.R.E. still lurks in the toilets).

The difficulty has also been dialled down a notch, which makes the game more accessible but at the expense of emotional investment and drama. You can rack up cash far faster than in Dead Rising 2 while there are safety nets dotted around everywhere in the form of checkpoints. It feels a little blander thanks to the smoothed out difficulty, a bizarre attempt to cater to an audience which wasn’t likely to return anyway had they not got on with Dead Rising 2 the first time round.

Still, there are enough differences that you could reasonably side with gamesTM on this argument. There’s the brand new sandbox mode that lets you mess around in Fortune City without time limit pressure, the story has changed enough to warrant playing (despite recycling some cutscenes), new weapons are included while the return of photography does add an interesting meta-game, so photo opportunities keep every trip through Fortune City from feeling too stale. The developers also promised Chuck Greene would show up and his appearance in Off The Record is bittersweet and knowing, perhaps the heaviest moment of the entire series to date.

The co-op is also much stronger this time round, even if it does suffer from the same weird disconnect bug (you get booted out of the game when saving) which was present in Dead Rising 2.

It’s a weird title to assess because as a fan of Dead Rising 2, I’m enjoying the fact I’m back in Fortune City but the fact that I’ve fallen back into routine so easily shows how little has really changed – leave the saferoom, make a spiked baseball bat, grab the coffee creamer, follow the arrow. It’s a title that’s impossible to recommend if the way it’s split our office is anything to go by and yet, the gentle remix of familiar surroundings is both its draw and its failing.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

The other release was Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, a game that screams missed opportunity.

Insomniac’s Resistance 3 suffered at the hands of its poorly-received predecessors and bad timing. Having been released just a few weeks after fellow FPS Deus Ex: Human Revolution and at the same time as the ultra-hyped Dead Island, the positive reviews didn’t send it hurtling to the top of the charts.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One isn’t likely to shift great numbers either but unlike Resistance 3, a lot of blame can be directed back to the game itself. As reflected in the title, All 4 One is built around the concept of 4-player co-op. Sound idea in theory – four players using the trademark gadgets and gizmos at the same time, scope for more interesting puzzles and marketing gets to shout things like “FOUR TIMES THE FUN!”

In practice, it doesn’t quite work out like that. If anything, having four players involved seems to have had the opposite effect to what it could have been. Nudging the series in this new direction means having to craft platforming for four players. The end result is that the interesting puzzles and platforming sections have been smoothed out, so everyone is catered for. It’s a little bland, truth be told.

The bosses, the levels, the humour, the characters… everything here is okay. Besides weird camera issues and the grating AI behaviour when playing on your lonesome, there’s nothing here you can point to as a particularly offensive gameplay fault or critical flaw.

So it’s good, it’s just not great. Being released on the same day as Batman: Arkham City means you have to be great. Otherwise you won’t be talked about in Imagine Publishing’s office kitchen. Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One misses the mark in that regard. Before you relegate it to your own ‘buy when cheap second hand’ listing, bear in mind you need to buy an online pass for the online co-op if you do so.

Overall

Neither of Friday’s releases compare favourably to Batman: Arkham City – Dead Rising 2: Off The Record suffers from familiarity by retreading old ground, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One perhaps doesn’t have enough of it, ditching its interesting puzzles for… well, uninteresting puzzles. They both offer co-op over Arkham City but they’re still not strong enough to recommend a purchase instead of the Dark Knight stomping around a sealed off part of Gotham.

So rest easy knowing you haven’t missed out on anything major last Friday if you did pick up Arkham City.




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