Review – Dead To Rights: Retribution
The dog’s bollocks or just plain bollocks?
It’s unwanted sequel time and this time it’s the turn of Namco’s 2002 forget-me-up, Dead To Rights to get a moody noun tacked onto the end of its name and be reinvented in hi-def for no apparent reason. Still, bland games can get a decent sequel occasionally and this game’s got a dog in it which is good as I’m still loved up with Fable II.
I’m tempted to forego the plot altogether given that it’s a sub-Lethal Weapon cop story but for the sake of completeness I’ll tiptoe through it. A cop, Jack Slate, is *yawn* a bit of a renegade (and by renegade I think they mean that he likes to kill fucking everyone rather than arrest them) who goes a bit nuts when his old man is killed while investigating a new police division called the GCA. Rather than buddying up with a near-retirement, too old for this shit cop, he’s backed up by Shadow, an occasionally cute cockocidal dog that likes to rip the scrotums off of the baddies. All you really need to know though is that you’ll probably end up killing everyone in this game because you’re Jack Slate.
After a short prologue (played as Shadow), you get into the main thrust of the game. The first proper level is set in a Nakatomi Plaza style building which doubles up as the tutorial for Jack’s various methods of slaughter. Starting out with basic punch combos, Jack is given a few rentathugs to try out his moves on. After that you are introduced to takedowns (gory finishing moves or eye-candy for idiots who might think this game is good), counter-attacks and weapon stealing reversals. There’s a fair bit of depth to the melee combat but ultimately it feels unsatisfyingly thin with no sense of weight or impact.
Gunplay fares a little better although is spoilt by that most annoying of design choices, making everyone pretty much bullet resistent and this is beleventy times worse when it comes to bosses who require entire magazines emptied into them to dent their energy bars. Weapons do tend to empty pretty quickly as well, given that most of them are acquired from the dead hands of your enemies so you’ll constantly be switching up.
As was made mandatory in the Max Payne Bill of 2001, Slate is given a ‘focus’ mode that allows him to slow down time and put me to sleep. He doesn’t get to dive around like a prick which is something, I guess. That’s pretty much it for Jack as they’ve somehow managed to avoid putting in any driving sections. A small mercy.
I know next to nothing about the last gen Dead to Rights games, just the fact that they were about a man and his dog and they didn’t review amazingly. However, after seeing a feature about Retribution on the Xbox Dashboard I was intrigued and thought it might be worth a go.
I’m not totally disappointed. There are a few glitches (my favourite being the break dancing dead bodies) but I’ve not noticed anything game breaking and each aspect of the gameplay works well enough (though far from perfectly) and I quite like the art style (despite Jack going to the same gym as Chris Redfield). Unfortunately in general the game reeks of mediocrity. Animations are nicely exaggerated but in the case of the finishers can go on a while, repeat too often and aren’t as cool as the developers seem to think.
The first couple of levels and the last few are nicely varied, but the middle part of the game becomes a bit of chore as you constantly run from area to area fighting the same three or so enemies. Also despite the game having a decent hand to hand fighting system and of course Shadow, your dog, you’ll find yourself turning to the trusty headshot constantly, easily the most effective thing you can do, especially as the game gets tougher.
But it is an okay game. If you like your shooters it might be worth a rent but beware of incoming DLC. As a bonus you do get unlockable art work (thumbs up from me) and avatar awards, which is always nice.Secondary Score: 5/10
The rest of the gameplay is based around the cute-but-chavvy Shadow. While controlling Jack you are able to send Shadow into combat using the d-pad and, to be fair, he’s bloody effective, happily going about his cockmangling duties and is worth 50% of the kills that you’ll end up making. He can be shot and wounded but a quick pat from Slate will fix him right up and, like everyone else in this fucking game, he takes plenty of bullets before he needs a snooze.
While controlling Shadow, the game effectively becomes all about stealth. Shadow can sneak behind enemies and is able to ‘sense’ them through walls as well as determining their emotional state. He also has a pretty good command of English as well. As far as stealth gameplay goes, Shadow’s sections aren’t too bad. One of his later levels is pretty tricky but all the more satisfying for it, requiring plenty of planning to successfully negotiate.
Given that the level design in this game is bland and yet often confusing (they really have a knack of not signposting where you are meant to go) and the fact that it copies and pastes the same enemy types throughout, the game does pick up a little in the final couple of levels and can provide a reasonably tough challenge. Overall though, it’s not enough to save this game from absolute mediocrity. Unlike some games that are a mix of great stuff and awful stuff (like Onechanbara), Dead To Rights: Retribution gets a five simply for being wholly average. Average visuals, average sound, average gameplay and an average story. A bit of dog action and some nice avatar awards aside, this is a rental at best.
Oh, and Slate looks like a thin Frank Lampard. So he can fuck off as well.