'A cop bent on revenge is the action star of this game'
For a period of time, Dead to Rights was exclusive to the Xbox, but now that time has expired it's time for the game to hit the other consoles. On the Xbox it received(including from myself) a mixed reaction, mainly due to the extreme difficulty level towards the end of the game. Namco has changed the game for the Playstation 2 but is it for the better?
You play Jack Slate, a Grant City policeman trying to earn an honest buck. One night he receives a call and a grisly discovery is to be made. His father has been murdered and from that moment on nothing else matters, he wants revenge and he wants it now. In essence, Dead to Rights is an all out action game where your task is to basically mow down anything that moves. As the game progresses Jack uncovers a city wide conspiracy and the hunter becomes the hunted, not only will he be looking to avenge his fathers murder but also running for his life.
Dead to Rights is a third person action game with a few mini games thrown in to offer some variety. For the most part of the twenty missions included, Jack will be running and gunning through various locales and after a while unless you're really into the action hero style it does become somewhat repetitive. One notable absence is Jacks' inability to jump, except left and right, back and forward with the slow motion feature enabled. Whilst this is not a fatal design flaw it did leave me bewildered at times.
Being a console game, an auto-aim function has been included, but it is much more useful then for instance the one used in Halo. When one of the shoulder buttons is pressed, Jack will automatically target an enemy and a meter will display one of three colours. Green indicates Jack can not hit this target from the current range, yellow indicates that some bullets may hit whilst red indicates a clear shot. This addition is invaluable to the game as bullets can in some levels become a rare commodity. Other controls are used to control the camera, move jack and basically perform all his required movements.
As is to be expected numerous foes willen counter Jack throughout his quest to find his fathers murderer. From basic henchman through to the big boss himself, as the game progresses, new, tougher enemies will come to visit. The difficulty level of Dead to Rights rises significantly mid-way through the game and this is one area that concerns me a little. The sheer challenge of the game comes from how many enemies Jack comes up against rather then smart AI. Whilst at times the AI will display some traits of intelligence, when Jack is outnumbered ten to one it becomes very obvious that's where the main challenge lies.
Various mini games break up the action and occur every four or five levels. Players will have to take the role of a stripper to distract bouncers, train themselves up for some prison fights and hold their breath under water for a period of time. Most of the mini games are easy to complete and require button presses in a certain order. For instance it is easy to liken the stripper mini game to a session of Dance Dance Evolution with a gamepad.
The main feature of Dead to Rights is a slow motion move Jack can enable to defeat multiple enemies. When enabled, the game will slow down 'Matrix' style and allow Jack to shoot multiple enemies in an allocated time. If you think you have seen this before you would be correct. Whilst it is not completely the same as the bullet time used in Max Payne it does have quite a few similarities.
Dead to Rights' storyline consists of twenty levels and Jack will visit vastly different areas. Strip clubs, prison, back alleys, the mayors office and an industrial area just to name a few. The levels are highly detailed and all lend themselves to Jacks' special moves such as pushing up against walls to spin around and take down the enemy. There are also a significant number of re-occurring characters Jack will run into but to discuss them would spoil some major parts of the storyline.
The PAL version of the game for Xbox had some significant changes from the NTSC version and this has carried across to the Playstation 2 port. More health kits, less accurate AI and more weapon pickups for Jack are just to name a few of the changes. The game is still incredibly difficult towards the latter stages but these changes have eased the frustration factor a little.
Graphically, Dead to Rights on the Playstation 2 is impressive. Firing up the game having played the Xbox version earlier in the year I was expecting a jaggy mess but side by side the PS2 version is only slightly less detailed and this is more due to a 'grainy' effect then anything else. All of the locales visited are highly detailed and the animation of the models is impressive as well. Sound effects are quite good and the soundtrack will change depending on the action giving a very cinematic feel.
It was received with mixed feelings on the Xbox and it will again on the Playstation 2, but for those who love an action game and don't mind a bit of repetition, Dead to Rights is up your alley. Everyone else should rent it first but it is likely that every gamer can find something to like about Dead to Rights.