Dead To Rights
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, GC, PS2
Publisher
Namco
Developer
Namco
Genre
Action/Shooter
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Violence, Mature Sexual Themes
 
Grade
The Good

• Lots of gunplay
• Mini-games to give a change of pace

The Bad

• Melee combat is shallow and tedious
• Graphics are not polished
• In-game camera can be a hassle

 
Grade
C+

Much like Max Payne before it, Dead To Rights is a gritty detective noir story packaged in a action-filled shooter. You play as Jack Slate, a K-9 police detective in Grant City, who finds his father murdered. From this point, he shoots his way through the city's crime syndicate in hopes of finding who killed his father and why.

At the core of the game is a standard action shooter, where you take Jack from place to place, on a linear path, killing your way through wave upon wave of enemies. You target enemies by pulling and holding the right trigger and fire your guns with the A button. Tap the right trigger to change your selection. The left trigger is used to crouch and if you hold it while moving, you'll go into a low run which is useful when behind cover. One of the nicer, and ultimately important, features is the disarm move, which allows Jack to take a weapon from an enemy while either killing them or taking them as a bullet shield from the other enemies. You can also jump with the Y button, and if you hit the button right, you'll go into a slo-mo jump, much like Max Payne's Bullet Time, where you can target and dispatch multiple enemies. Unfortunately, though, Jack's ability to jump is limited to diving jumps and he seems unable to even make a rolling tuck and dive out of the line of fire. Also, in the slo-mo dives, he's relatively unable to turn, which makes diving around corners useless and potentially fatal. But, when against a corner, it's actually in your best interest to stay close to the wall and make jump-out shots, a lot like you can do in Metal Gear Solid 2.

There will be a lot of times when you run out of ammo. In fact, there will be multiple times in most stages where you'll run out of ammo and have to use a disarm move just to get a weapon. Luckily, in some of the areas, you have Jack's trusty dog, Shadow, to help out. Select an enemy and you can send Shadow to take the crook out and get his weapon. But, to keep you from abusing the move, Shadow has a gauge that has to refill every time you use the move.

Outside of the standard run and gun aspects, the game does manage to throw in some mini-games, like the stripper sequence. Much like a perverted rhythm game, the player will need to hit certain buttons as they pass through the window beneath the stripper. Miss too many and you fail the stage. Fortunately, for every mini-game that seems rather boring, there are two that are well realized, like the bomb disarming episode. Besides the mini-games, there are segments where the player will be left with only hand-to-hand combat, which is a fair change of pace, but unfortunately, the combat system is shallow. For a company that puts out a fine fighting series as Tekken, one would hope for a deeper fighting interface. And since the melee combat comprises of a sizable part of the game (roughly under 1/4th), this can lead to some tedium in certain areas, especially the lengthy prison level.

Visually, Dead To Rights shows some potential, but ultimately comes up short. The game sports large areas, a good amount of environmental detail (furniture, vehicles and other stuff to hide behind), and some nice lighting effects. Often, you'll have a number of enemies on screen and after a gun battle, you can see the effects with bulletholes in the walls and blood splattered everywhere. But, the game also lacks a level of detail that makes games like Halo, Buffy and Enclave stand out visually. For the most part, the game lacks polish. There are a few rough edges, like polygon clipping, that make the game seem more like a port of a PS2 game than something made specifically for the Xbox. Also, the character models look underdetailed and are animated fairly unrealistically.

The music works as a fine backdrop that never really stands out on it's own. Fortunately, it's good enough not to be an annoyance. Sound effects are varied and work to the action-packed strength of the game. Voice acting is okay; some of the lines are delivered rather cheesily, but for the most part, the vocal parts don't detract from the game.

Outside of issues previously noted, one of the things that I found to be a hamper was the in-game camera. For the most part, it's okay, but there are a few times where you can't move it, which may leave you without an optimum view of the area. Also, there are times after cutscenes where the camera will have magically swung around to in front of Jack Slate. If you were expecting to make a run for cover with the camera behind you when the scene was over, having the camera placement turn up different may lead to taking a few cheap shots.

Dead To Rights is one of those games that rewards excellent use of the game's techniques. If you run blindly into most levels, you'll end up dead. In fact, even with firm use of the techniques, you may still die often. Without a doubt, this game is hard, so much so that casual gamers may be turned off by it. I wish that Namco had thrown in some more evasive moves, as you'll come under fire a lot. And, since you'll spend some time without a gun, being able to dodge a little better would have been nice. Too often, you'll have to cover some distance to just disarm someone, which means you'll most likely get shot a couple times before reaching the crook.

Should you get Dead To Rights? Only if you want a hard action-based game. Even though the graphics are weak, the gunplay is nice and the various mini-games help break up most levels. Because there are a list of things I wish Namco would have changed or added, I would recommend renting this game first. It can lead to some serious frustration if you don't have a degree of patience.

- - Vane

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