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Dead to Rights

Review By:  2nd Opp

Developer:   Namco
Publisher:   Namco
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Action
ESRB:   Mature
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Unit
Date Posted:  

10-15-02

With games like GTA 3 and Max Payne consuming the market, it only takes a matter of time for copycat games from other developers to hit the shelves. Namco is no exception, with its recent release of Dead to Rights, a game that promises to deliver all the gun fighting and storylines of a Hong Kong action movie. This game takes a lot from other action games and is complete with all the latest trends, bullet time, lock on targeting, and mini-games. In the end Dead to Rights tries to do so much that it starts to spread itself a little thin in some areas.

You play the game as hard-nosed cop Jack Slate. He is one of the toughest cops in the K-9 unit, and his dog is one of the smartest. His career as a cop is going pretty well until he gets the fateful call to inspect some "shots fired" at a local construction yard. You arrive to find that the construction workers own way to many guns and want you dead for some reason. Once you take care of the problems here, you find out you father arrived in the yard before you, and is now dead. Now it's time for you to start finding some answers and serve justice to those responsible.

The first level starts you out in the construction yard and is basically a training level. It introduces you to all the controls and features you will be using throughout the game. These must be learned fast since you will be required to use all of them to beat the game. First it teaches you about the standard issue lock-on targeting system, which is strongly needed and used in this game. Without it, this game would not be playable thanks to a horrible camera system that gets stuck in weird positions all the time. Then you are introduced to a bullet time style jump to put things into slow motion and take out extra baddies. Another key move is wall mode, if there is a wall near you, you can use it to hide behind, and then pop out around the corner to take a couple shots. One cool thing you can use if you ammo is getting low is your dog Shadow, just target onto an enemy and send him out. Not only will he kill the enemy, but also he brings their gun back for you to use. This is very useful for taking out stronger enemies. Be careful though, Shadow has a gauge for when he can help, and you have to wait for it to refill after each use, but this leaves the question of where is he when everything else is going on, he seems to be invisible until called. Unfortunately Shadow can only take out one enemy at a time, so what do you do if there is a big group of them? Easy, just find a canister, toss it into the group and shoot it, it will explode with pleasing results. After the smoke clears there may be a guy or two left standing, if ones close enough to you, grab him and use him as a shield to shoot the others. After you're done you can let him go...with a small bullet to the head.

Sometimes shooting isn't always the answer, in some of the levels you will have no weapons at all. This is when fist to fist battling takes over. You have a small number of moves including punches kicks and grabs at you disposal. Tapping the punch and kick buttons in different orders results in different combos. Unfortunately the fighting system as a whole doesn't feel solid, it feels more like your just exchanging hits. I've seen other games with this fighting style turn out with much better results (namely Buffy: The Vampire Slayer). Most the levels and bosses that require fist fighting become very frustrating and repetitive. The first chance you get to grab a gun, take it. Since your hands are already gonna be empty, this is a perfect time to use a disarm move. Disarming is one of the best features of this game and I expect it to be used in future games. Depending on what gun the enemy is holding, different sets of disarms are used, the one you use from the set will depend on what direction you press while you hit the disarm button. You'll see a lot of the simple disarms at first, like neck breakers, grabbing the gun and hitting them in the head with it, or quick grab and shoot. Later in the game when you start running into bigger guns, you'll see bigger better disarms, maybe a shotgun blast to the back, or my favorite, grabbing an enemies assault rifle while falling backwards and kicking them into the air, then shooting them about 15 times before they hit the ground.

Namco has packed this game with a lot of mini-games, some of which act as a whole level in the game. You will be required to lock pick doors by stopping spinning cylinders, find bombs by sniffing them out with your dog, and then disarm them by guiding a small ball through a thin twisting track. Expect to see these mini-games quite a bit, because most of the levels use them repetitively. The shooting mini-game is sadly seen only once in the game, but luckily it is used for a whole level and its boss. It plays out very much like Virtua Cop, and comes as a nice break in the gameplay. As I'm sure you have all heard, there is a stripper mini-game, but no there's no nudity. This mini-game tries to copy the popular dancing games out now, with you hitting the corresponding button as it scroll across the screen. This is somewhat fun, but feels like it got thrown in just so they could say, "Hey, our game has a stripper".

The graphics are a bit dated, and it's a little noticeable, but its to be expected since this started out as a Playstation game and then got moved to X-box. The textures are nice but the X-box is able to do a lot more than this. The in-game cut scenes have voice-overs, so don't expect the characters' mouths to move. In fact their movements in general are a little blocky. Every once in awhile you'll come across an area that's been graphically cleaned up a bit more, and looks nice. The FMVs, on the other hand, are beautiful, and are a welcome treat between chapters. All the sound effects are on key in this game, with each gun sounding different, and enemies yelling out commands. Some enemies make fun of you as they beat you up. The music track is pretty good...at first. It fits the game's style and has a nice beat, but pretty soon you find out it is used on EVERY level in the game. A little variety would have been nice here.

All together it's a good game, but it takes too long for it to become fun. It took me until chapter 7 out of 15 before it stopped feeling like work, and actually felt like a game. The camera issue stays a problem till the very end, and I wish Namco had put more thought into it. Dealing with it one time through is definitely enough for me. Hopefully if they decide to make another game like this, they'll get all their ideas fully implemented and address the camera controls.

Highs:

  • Lots of variety
  • Good story with twisting plot
  • Lots of moves

Lows:

  • Horrible camera
  • Steep learning curve, very difficult
  • Dated graphics
  • Repetitive music

Final Verdict: 

Dead to Rights is a pretty good action game, but it has its problems. The music and mini-games get repetitive, and the bare fist fighting gets frustrating early in the game. The camera controls leave ALOT to be desired, and are only made acceptable by the lock-on targeting system. Being able to do disarms and use people as human shields adds some strategy to gameplay. Yet the game takes a quite a while before it gets to be fun, thanks to a very small learning curve and hard difficulty, this game is not for beginners. Namco seems like they tried to do too much with this game, and left some things unfinished before they moved on to the next new idea. 

If you want a challenge and need some Max Payne style gameplay this game may be for you.  For all others, rent it first.

Overall Score: 7.1

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