Dead to Rights: Retribution Review
Written : Monday, May 10, 2010
By: Lee Abrahams (GT: jackanape)
No doubt many of you have been clamouring for a sequel to Dead to Rights and this game is the answer to all of those unanswered prayers. What do you mean you have no idea what the deuce I am going on about? You know, Dead to Rights, a guy and his angry dog against the world... Nothing? You just can't get the staff. Well, regardless of your knowledge on the matter, you now have a chance to get in on the story at the very beginning, plus, do a bit of a crime clean up along the way. Hurrah for justice – street justice.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
The basic premise of the original game - and this sequel/prequel - is to take control of tough as nails vice cop, Jack Slate (no, really) and his canine companion, Shadow, and embark upon a mission to clean up the mean streets. This game highlights how the two came to be partners and, after an early bit of storytelling, how they ended up on a rampage for, you guessed it, retribution. Suffice it to say, everything has the cheap and cheerful feel of the very best - or worst - Hollywood B-movies. The plot is just something tacked on to make sense of the ensuing violence and the dialogue, oh dear Lord, the dialogue.
The real question here is how a man with such brutally violent tendencies has not landed himself in jail, and how his bloodthirsty pet has not already been caged. Mainly because the level of violence on offer puts the term ‘police brutality’ in a whole new light, while at the same time, providing numerous opportunities for gratuitous takedowns. Still, if you can suspend your disbelief at some of the over the top shenanigans, then there is plenty of fun to be had here.
The basic gameplay is akin to every third person shooter that has been out in the last few years: you can duck behind cover; pop out and take pot shots; and use a variety of weapons, plus you can always take your foes hostage and use them as a human shield... The key difference here is the focus on hand-to-hand combat, mainly due to the fact most of the available weaponry is being carried by your foes. You can therefore use a variety of combos to beat people to a pulp, try and disarm them with a timed button press or even use any number of brutal takedowns to smash them up. All good fun, if a tad repetitive by the time you have beaten your way to the last level.
When animals attack – they go for the nuts apparently.
The main issue with the fighting is the fact you cannot switch between enemies with ease, so when you get surrounded by a group it can be hard to single out a specific foe for punishment. Considering the smooth system in recent games like Arkham Asylum, the combat here feels jaded at best. It does not help matters that enemies will often just run out of reach and try to shoot you from afar, which becomes frustrating. On the plus side, you can always set Shadow onto your foes, whether it's to finish them off, flush them out of cover or merely to stop yourself getting surrounded.
Aside from acting as Jack's sidekick in the thick of the fight, there are also sections when you control Shadow directly, and these take on the form of stealth-based objectives where our trusty canine will have to retrieve a certain item. These areas are actually fairly well crafted, and break up the action nicely. You can sneak past foes or choose to dispatch them in a number of grisly ways. Like that's an option!? Waiter, can I have a serving of the red stuff with my recently deceased adversary?
The real problem with the game is just how repetitive it becomes the further you get in, as you will have seen everything on offer after only a few levels. Then it just becomes a case of repeating the same thing until you are done. In a more polished game that would not be so much of a problem, but this game is so rough around the edges that the niggles soon begin to grate. Seeing Jack floating above the floor, weird shadows appearing and disappearing, clipping, frame rate issues... the list goes on, and that is not even mentioning the appalling dialogue at times that we haven't already mentioned. Oh, we have? Well it is that bad after all.
Fighting armoured guys is crazy, unless you have arms like Popeye.
Sadly, the achievement list pretty much matches up with the rest of the game: generic 101. You can snag points from plot progression, completing the game on a variety of difficulties and getting gold ratings on all of the levels. There are also a ton of points wrapped up in getting certain types of kills, using hand to hand moves and having Shadow get in on the fun. Nothing too flashy or original, and you should be able to get everything done with a minimum of fuss, although the hardest difficulty can be brutally cheap at times. A fairly bog standard bunch of points, but one that is more of a chore than a fun challenge.
Dead to Rights: Retribution is one of those titles that can be fun to blast through once, but has pretty much no long term appeal beyond that. Achievement junkies may well stick around to polish off all of the points, and maybe even the upcoming DLC, but the rest of us mere morsels will have had more than enough by that point. It does merge a few styles of gaming together, and to good effect at times, but the whole thing feels a touch rushed and lacks that final layer of polish and variety that could have seen it become a must have. Close but no cigar.
The music and dialogue are both cheesy as hell, though whether that was intentional or not is a matter for debate. At times they can be unintentionally hilarious though, which is always a plus.
Smooth sailing at times ,but rough at others. It really is a mixed bag all around. Some of the shading and textures border on appalling, and having characters constantly floating above or below the floor is just not on.
Easy to get to grips with and actually a lot of fun in places. The limited amount of ammo forces a reliance on hand-to-hand that may not have been present otherwise and the Shadow sections actually makes stealth fun for once.
This game has its heart in the right place, but the execution is sloppy at times and it soon gets bogged down in repetition. At least it does a decent job of blending shooting, hand-to-hand combat and stealth together to provide a fairly enjoyable experience.
A pretty boring list, but one that is easily manageable as long as you have enough patience to slog through Detective difficulty.
Dead to Rights: Retribution can provide some good B-movie fun at first, but it soon gets overly repetitive and the niggling flaws soon begin to grate more and more as the game goes on. You may get some fun out of one run through, but after that you will swiftly move onto something else - it is a shame, but there are already games that do this kind of thing, just so much better.