Dead to Rights, which made its debut in 2002, is back with a new entry in the series, Dead to Rights: Retribution. While eight years isn’t a long time in the general scheme of things, its eons in video game time but unfortunately the third person shooter/fighter doesn’t show a great deal of progress.
Once again you play as Grant City rogue cop Jack Slate who is accompanied by his faithful killer canine Shadow. You are dropped into what seems to be the middle of a story as an injured Jack is being hunted by a gang of thugs in an industrial plant. His only hope is to use Shadow to quickly dispatch the gang before they can pick them off. Now, its great to jump right into a game but you feel like you’re watching the third chapter of a DVD and wondering what happened. Zero back-story in the game or the manual and don’t expect things to get much clearer from there.
After this initial prologue Jack is off to a high rise that has been taken over by the Union Gang who is holding numerous hostages on the 15th and 97th floors. Again there’s very little story buildup other than Jack has a run-in with his commanding officer and disobeys his order to enter the building to try and save the hostages. Eventually Jack will discover that the Grant Police Department is rife with corruption but plot is definitely not one of the game’s strong suits.
On the other hand, its greatest weakness is also its greatest strength. You’re not required to think a whole lot, just kick ass and take names later. Outdated thought it may be, DTR’s melee system is simple and fun. In hand-to-hand, Jack can pull off numerous bone-crunching combos. When your opponent is vulnerable, you’ll be prompted to hit the “X” button to pull off a finishing move that has Jack cracking limbs, necks, or backs, or smashing his opponents head into the ground…archaic but effective. Jack can quickly disarm his opponents and use their weapons against him firing from the hip or using the targeting button for more precise firing. Defeating enemies raises Jacks “focus” level. Focus allows you to put the action into slow motion so Jack can easily target the enemies for clean head shots.
As you will find yourself often up against multiple enemies firing on you at once, Jack can use his stealth abilities to take cover behind walls, furniture, poles, etc to more easily trying to pick off the bad guys while keeping himself relatively safe. This also leads to one of the game’s downfalls in that when you’re surrounded by enemies, especially in hand-to-hand combat, the frame rate really drags and you feel like you’re playing a PS2 or even a PS1 game. The finishing moves and the slow-motion ability draw heavily on older games like Mortal Kombat and Max Payne which further adds to the dated feel of Dead to Rights: Retribution.
You able to utilize Shadow in a couple of different ways. You can essentially become the dog to take out enemies or go on reconnaissance missions. Shadow can sense heartbeats of nearby foes. It’s particularly fun to rip out a guy’s throat and drag the body away to hide it. Jack can also remotely control Shadow to attack enemies in places he cannot reach, find ammo, etc…Shadow is even better at performing stealthy kills which is a must when you’re trying to keep a low profile and save hostages.
The voice acting is nothing special but it doesn’t detract from the action. The characters are all two-dimensional and there isn’t much depth but for the style of game it works well enough. The graphics feature some excellent effects in terms of explosions and kills. The Elevator crashing to the ground inside the high rise was also cool. But the enemies are all cookie cutter, offering little variety as you defeat the same looking guys over and over.
Dead To Rights: Retribution offers a light, button-mashing diversion that you can jump right into but it feels like a game that is about six years too late.
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