Dead to Rights
The Wachowski brothers could obviously never have guessed what effect their life work, The Matrix, would create. Not only did they become millionairs, a lot of recent movies used the much acclaimed bullet time. But this nifty trick also found his way into the gaming industry and has already filled our hearts with happiness. Max Payne was an awesome game and developer Namco noticed this success as well. They immediately ran into their offices to come up with Dead to Rights for XBOX. But can sensational moves and loads of guns carry away a professional reviewer ?
From the very moment you put the shiny disc into your XBOX, you are overwhelmed by the brutal action of the game. After a flasy intro movie, in which you can already experience some great beating and shooting, you arrive at the main menu. I altered some options, chose a new game and relaxed to watch the story. Jack Slate, police officer in Grant City, is patrolling the streets with his loyal dog Shadow when he receives an urgent call. He is sent to an abandonned construction site and here the game commences. This level is actually more of a tutorial, in which you learn the controls en the different moves. After you got yourself through this mission, you find Jacks father … murdered.
Although his superior forbids him, Jack starts his own search for the killer. However, fate doesn’t like him too much; Jack is being framed and sent to jail where he awaits his execution. Time to come up with a plan …
The story evolves through numerous beautiful movies, but these do have one great flaw: there aren’t any subtitles, so you can’t always hear what is being said. Furthermore, the music drowns out the conversations sporadically, so one should pay great attention during these movies, in order to understand the story’s progress.
But Dead to Righs focuses mainly on hard action. When ten enemies approach you, a “normal” game would have you run your ass off. But for Jack Slate this is a piece of cake. Fortunately he has a lot of guns to take out his opponents. Pistols, shotguns, uzi’s, rifles, grenade launchers and from time to time even a rocket launcher. Enough for a horde of U.N. weapons inspectors to chase you … It’s just a shame you can’t carry a lot of ammo.
The shooting happens through an auto-aim function, but this isn’t really a bad thing. Now you can totally focus on your moves and stunts and you don’t have to look for every enemy. You can also go to a first person viewpoint and aim for yourself, but this only comes in handy with a sniper rifle. For one time, enemies can help you, although I don’t believe they really like it: an enemy can be grabbed and used as a human shield, while you shoot his buddies.
But good old Jack really is a Jack-of-all-trades. When you put your guns away, you can kick, slap and throw your opponents to the ground. Namco is the developer of several great beat ‘em ups after all, so you can also perform lovely combos. It’s even possible to take out an armed foe by grabbing his gun and shooting him. This can be done in several quick ways, which you unlock throughout the game. This action is displayed in slow-motion and you can even select a different camera viewpoint to admire your work.
But didn’t Jack have a dog? Indeed and once in a while you can send good old Shadow to deal with an enemy. The sweetheart bites his victim to death and brings you back the gun, talk about good service.
And we still haven’t talked about the bullet time. This is activated when you perform a special jump and is very handy to dispose yourself quickly of multiple enemies. You can only do this however if your adrenaline gauge is high enough. This fills automatically after time. But, unlike Max Payne, you don’t actually see bullets flying around. This slow-motion is also used on some special moments to make the action even more sensational. For instance, if you throw away a canister, it flies off in slow-motion. Then you just have to wait and shoot the canister at the right moment, to take out several enemies with an explosion. Awesome !!
The action in Dead to Rights is very nice, but unfortunately the game has little more to offer than shooting and beating up foes. Especially in the later chapters of the game, you encounter way too much enemies. And after time, even this gets a bit boring. Luckily, there are still the minigames, which, scattered throughout the levels, test your capability to use a controller. Alternatively press A and B to hold your breath when tortured, keep a line constantly in the “hot zone” for some weight lifting, press the right button at the exact moment to let a stripper dance (hubba hubba …), etc. Although in the past I wasn’t really fond of such minigames, the ones in Dead to Rights are very varied and they give the game some extra depth. You can play all of the encountered minigames later on in the main menu.
Finally let’s have a word about image and sound. Dead to Rights looks very good (of course, it’s an XBOX titel) although I didn’t drool all over the floor. The models are nice, just like the effects, there aren’t any framedrops, … the only negativo are the environments which are sometimes much alike. I even had a déjà vu feeling a couple of times. The graphics are good, but no more than that.
The same can be said on the sound. The weapons sound realistic and there aren’t really any negative arguments to mention, but the music and the effects don’t create much ambiance. And if there’s something that can make a game a little more superb, it’s an extra portion of ambiance …
In conclusion: All who’s out there looking for an action game to spend a couple of hours behind your XBOX, Dead to Rights is all you need. The game offers a shitload of sensational moments where you quickly need to estimate a fighting sequence. You can try to kill as much foes as possible by jumping towards them while shooting in slow motion, or you can take cover, await their arrival, take one’s gun, send your dog after another, take the closest foe as a human shield and gun the other bastards down. There are loads of possibilities to handle a situation and that’s what makes this game so much fun … although you wonder, while putting a bullet through enemy number 579′s head, if you still haven’t beaten Rambo’s record …