'Dead to Rights: Retribution' (Xbox 360)
Mike Gonzalez, Crispy Gamer
'Dead to Rights: Retribution'
What's hot: Old school, beat 'em up feel
What's not: Repetitively long, unpolished, no other game modes
Buy It, Try It or Fry It: Fry
"Dead to Rights: Retribution" actually made me giddy a few times. It's not the best game in the market; there are several issues in presentation and game play, and it's definitely overshadowed by several shooters, but I acknowledged one of Namco's purposes. This game definitely had the spirit of an old school rough-and-tumble cop in the streets game, and that did elicit nostalgia during my experience. The main problem is that "Dead to Rights" wasn't consistent in reaching that amazing potential. It's a great concept, bringing back the sense of a game like "Streets of Rage" (one of my all time favorite games) and translating it into our contemporary schema of shooters, but Namco's execution was lacking.
The melee combat was one of "Dead to Rights'" saving graces. Were it not for this element, this game would be a numbingly thick, way-too-milky milkshake of a shooter. There was a melee combo list! Yes, a lengthy list of button combinations that would execute different iterations of hurt. Unless we're talking about a fighting game, a combo list is unheard of today. Though there's a parallel between melee/shooting in "Uncharted" and "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves," it's important to note that melee is not explicitly showcased in that series and combos were rather simplistic. Close quarter combat (CQC) was actually simplified in "Uncharted 2." The fact that "DtR's" melee system is integral to game play makes it standout in today's action-shooter crowd.
In almost all contemporary shooters, melee combat is ergonomically designed to be executed quickly with a single button, usually in the form of a knifing, or the gentle caress of a rifle butt. Even in games showcasing melee combat like "Batman: Arkham Asylum," 90 of the fighting is done with a single button. With
Unfortunately, execution of melee combat is still an issue. Melee in a shooter is tough to pull off and I definitely saw where the two conflict. To give you the melee experience, enemies who get close enough to you automatically engage in close quarters combat, even if they're pointing a gun at you. I couldn't suspend my disbelief here. In reality, if I'm shooting a target with a seemingly uncanny ability to absorb bullets, I'm going to keep shooting him until he's down, especially if he's unarmed. In every firefight, I had armed guys who clearly had the advantage over me, drop their weapons and asked me to fist tango. Even worse were the guys who just bolted at me while I was clearly holding a large rifle. And not just the CQC specialist guys, I mean garden-variety thugs, even ones with holstered sidearms as well.
The movement for CQC was also lackluster. When you're swinging, you don't so much dash as you seem to glide in the direction of your fists. It looked goofy and I felt I was trying to fight like superman.
On the shooting side of things, it was everyday third-person-cover-based shootouts. Levels are long and enemies are plenty, so the shooting would have gone stale quick without the melee combat. This game does have some of the most satisfying head shot animations and sounds I've ever seen. There's always a slight slow-down when you get one, allowing you to step back and really look at your marksman canvas
The puppy (I call all dogs puppies) in the game is hands down the best dog ever. There were a number of technical issues that came up as I played him though. As Shadow, you can drag corpses to keep your presence concealed, but there's actually no connection between Shadow's jaws and the corpse during the animation. This shows where the game gets sloppy as it looks like you're pulling corpses on an invisible string. Just a little more polishing would have cleaned this up. The same could be said about Shadow's running. I had to run on particular missions to defend Jack, but it was a hassle. The controls became too too lose and jerky, so I missed my targets several times as I ran them down.
Honestly, I can't really recall the minutiae of the story because it was so run of the mill. In general it's about the few good cops in a city of bad cops. Jack loses his father who dies in a light, sighing rain on the job. But wait there's more! The captain of the city's SWAT team, the reliable one Jack looks up to, was behind the plot against the city! And yes, he did it for the greater good. By the way, he's also the one who killed Jack's father. It's a pretty weak story, and it doesn't exactly help that the game has no other mode. So though the game's entertaining enough it's still quite lacking. I definitely saw great intention and some good effort on Namco's part with "Dead to Rights," but in the end, this still feels like a rough draft that has plenty of room to grow.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game.
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Video Games: 'Dead to Rights: Retribution' (Xbox 360)
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