"A decidedly average first person shooter set in a famous comic"
Judge Dredd is one of the comic characters which until now had yet to been placed in a next gen video game. There is nothing overly wrong with Judge Dredd other then the fact it pales in comparison to other first person shooters already available on the Xbox today.
In Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death you play as Judge Dredd himself in Mega-City one. As the tag line goes you take his persona and become judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one package. Those of you familiar with the comics and universe of Judge Dredd will probably get more out of this game then those who don't know much about the franchise. The storyline is that monster-like creatures have started appearing in Mega City one and at the same time a riot breaks out at the local jail. Dredd goes to investigate and from there its up to you.
As with most first person shooters each mission tasks you with a variety of objectives. There is one major difference with Dredd vs Death and other first person shooters and that is you don't shoot everything that moves. Throughout the game you get the opportunity to arrest people and sentence them to jail. Some of the sentences such as six months imprisonment for loitering seem a tad harsh though. You don't gain any bonus from doing this but you will receive comments such as "you're living up to your reputation" from your commander if you're doing a good job. Arresting people for smuggling Red Bull soft drink can also seem a little far fetched.
The objectives include finding locations, arresting a certain gang or rescuing missing judges. Dredd vs Death is quite a violent game and if you can't handle a significant amount of blood being thrown across the screen then steer clear. Some of the enemies will attack Dredd whilst others will lay down their weapons and prepare to be arrested. When this occurs some Dredd wisecracks can be heard such as "you fought the law and the law won".
To extend the longevity of Dredd vs Death one other game mode has been included; Arcade. This game mode features quick gameplay options such as shooting a certain number of enemies as quick as you can such as a former judges criminal group or robots. This mode is great for quick bashes but won't keep players interested for to long.
The biggest problem with Judge Dredd is right from the beginning it fails to hold your interest. Those who are right into the Judge Dredd universe from comic books etc may love this game due to its authenticity but others will find the storyline and game fairly cliche. There is nothing in Dredd vs Death you can't do in superior first person shooters already on the market other then arrest people.
One good thing about Dredd vs Death is it includes a tutorial but this is again stock standard. You will learn to move, jump, arrest and shoot things. Considering most gamers playing this game will have played another first person shooter before the fact that its compulsory can be aggravating.
In Dredd vs Death you have a variety of weapons such as the shotgun, machine gun, sniper gun, law giver pistol and a rifle which shoots deadly lasers. In a nod to Halo, you can only carry two weapons at once which can somewhat implement a strategy. Usually though the weapon with the highest rate of fire is the best to use due to the number of enemies you will encounter. Dredd can pick up enemies weapons and his health can be replenished not only by pickups but medic judges situated around Megacity One. In another nod to Halo you are only damaged when your shield is depleted. Moving out of the action for a few seconds will recharge this shield, but in comparison to Halo, the shield is depleted by the enemy much quicker.
Enemies you will encounter in Judge Dredd aren't very smart. They do know how to use their weapons well however and running into an area swarming with enemies is a good way to get Dredd dead quickly. Some have small weapons whilst others have more powerful weapons. The challenge in Dredd vs Death comes from the number of enemies rather then individual brains on the part of the AI. They animate quite well featuring ragdoll physics for death animations, but as mentioned before there is usually quite a large dollop of blood splattered all over the place.
Mega City One is highly detailed and features some great environments but also some dull, drab and repetitive ones. Nice touches such as neon signs feature and the re-creation of the actual offices of the Judges looks quite good. There are signs however that this was always going to be a ported game. Should you quit your mission to return later, you have to begin from the start, all checkpoint saves are lost.
The graphics aren't impressive in terms of the Xbox's power. As mentioned before the animations can be quite impressive but at times the ragdoll physics seem over the top. Sound effects for most of the game are generic but the weapons do have individual unique sounds and the enemies will give the judge some stick. The soundtrack includes rock sections as well as quasi techno-dance music. The positional sound is quite impressive, walking away from characters will make their speech become more feint.
Multiplayer is offered on the same console only and includes game modes such as deathmatch, team deathmatch and elimination. In elimination each player has a limited number of lives. Once these have been depleted the player is eliminated. The single player can be played through co-operatively in another nod to Halo and bots are also included to extend the replayability of the game.
Overall Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death is a disappointingly average game with only minor innovations to add to the first person shooter genre. The fact that you can buy better first person shooters on the Xbox already makes this title one for the true Judge Dredd fans only. It's a great game for a rental and this is the best idea before you decide to purchase this game.
NOTE: Screens taken from Playstation 2 version.