These heists aren't the only story element lifted wholesale from the original. In fact, a more accurate question for this "what if?" scenario would be: "What if Frank replaced Chuck but almost everything else was exactly the same?" This is not a wildly different plot. There are a few tweaks, and in the later game the differences are more noticeable, but mostly Capcom is happy to retread old ground. It's a great pity, particularly after one inspired cut-scene early in the game which re-imagines a familiar character to darkly hilarious effect. That moment heightens anticipation for the changes to come, but they never really arrive.
The photography element of the first game is back, but the extra Prestige Points (XP in all but name) are hardly worth the risk. Occasionally the game will have you snapping certain objects for more substantial bonuses, but with time between story missions still very limited, it's advisable to focus on escorting survivors for a much more significant PP boost.
Those in need of rescue thankfully follow Case West's code of AI conduct, which means they'll rarely lag too far behind and won't often need saving from the clutches of a lurching flesh-muncher. I found that repeatedly jabbing the command button to encourage them to hurry up was often enough to extricate them from a mauling.
Many of the other changes are little more than cosmetic. Frank has a Bluetooth headset in place of Chuck's transceiver, and he can take Zombrex jabs on the move rather than returning to base. A handful of fresh psychopaths and survivors are scattered around Fortune City, but it's only the new combo weapons that really make an impact.
Best of this bunch are the Cryo Pod - a spaceship powered by fire extinguishers that freezes any zombies caught underneath its flight path - and an alien mask that fires laser beams. The result of combining a vibrator with a leaf blower also has to be seen to be believed.
Still, all this is little more than window-dressing, which means the most significant addition to Off The Record is its Sandbox mode. It's not a series first - Dead Rising's Infinite Mode is the obvious inspiration - although this time, Frank's health doesn't deplete over time. Instead, 30 challenge missions are spread across Fortune City, unlocked as you pass kill targets, with each carrying three medal targets and associated monetary rewards.
The objectives are generally fairly straightforward, from killing a certain number of zombies in a strict time limit to earning a certain amount of PP with Frank's camera. In one sense, it's the ultimate no-pressure way to play Dead Rising, but the ability to earn PP to carry over into the main game feels a little cheap - it's easy to grind a few simple missions to level up quickly, rewarding persistence over skilful play.
Despite all the grumbles, it's a heck of a lot of fun, and those without access to an Xbox 360 perhaps won't experience quite the same level of déjŕ vu. But in trying to be all things to all people, Off The Record represents something of an identity crisis for Dead Rising.
Its rough edges may have been sanded down, but in the process some of its unique personality has been lost. At a time where games like Dark Souls aren't afraid to put players through the wringer, it's disappointing that a title from Capcom of all publishers should feel, much like its doughy protagonist, a little soft around the middle.