Dead to Rights Xbox Review

After a pretty boring first mission you know all the controls and different actions your super cop play can do, and the brutality of “Dead to Rights” will start showing itself. Sometimes it is hard to imagine you are a cop doing what is right for the city and getting some revenge at the same time…but once you’ve performed your first disarm move in slow-motion, you won’t care.

Graphics

This part could use some more work. Although the animations are beautiful and tingles your dark side, the blocky characters and the fact that just about everything disappears after a while are less attractive. Most guilty are the disappearing bodies, blood and bullet holes, which is a real shame because you can never really look back and observe the bloodbath you created.

If Namco had included some more violence, like exploding heads and some more painful death animations, it definitely would have been an improvement. It already is the most brutal game I ever had the pleasure of playing, but I still feel it didn’t go far enough. The satisfaction of killing one single enemy with a disarm move is a lot bigger than killing 100 enemies with weapons, which is a shame.

Gameplay

I must admit I didn’t expect the gameplay to be this good. I thought it would start off great but become repetitive and boring later (similar to Max Payne), but it did not. First of all, the movement system is pretty easy to learn and controls are intuitive. This makes the many shootouts in the game fun without the usual irritation that games of this genre bring

Gunfights

Because the game is in third person, you can see more than you can shoot. Normally that could be a problem because you wouldn’t always know if you can or can’t hit an enemy. However, in dead to rights the main focus is not shooting; it is not getting shot. The right trigger will automatically target an enemy, making killing no problem at all. Once targeted, red means good chance to hit and yellow means little chance to hit. Blue represents a defeated enemy. This is a simple but effective way to make it easier for the player to decide which enemy should be taken out next. Often when running in a room and seeing 4 guys aiming at you with shotguns you will perform a slow-motion dive by simply pressing and holding the Y button for a short while. Then, while in mid air you can take out the 4 foes one by one by targeting them one by one. By pressing Y again you will exit slow-motion mode.

This brings us to the HUD. On the top left is the most important bar of the HUD: The LIFE bar. When it runs out, your characters will die. Below that is the adrenaline bar that automatically recharges, but recharges faster when bullets are flying close to your head. When this bar is empty you can’t block in hand-to-hand combat, nor dive in slow motion. I never had the bar run out, but then again I didn’t dive that often.

The armor bar is right under there, representing defence that really evens the odds. Finally underneath that is mans best friend, your dog Shadow, which we will discuss later.

On the top right you can see the health of the enemy you are targeting; this really helps in boss battles, but against normal foes it isn’t important at all.

By pressing the black button you can exit third person view and enter first person view. This way you can use sniper rifles effectively or hit a propane barrel. I also used this in fire fights sometimes to save ammo and go straight for the head, but generally it is pretty cumbersome and shouldn’t be used except for the two situations described earlier.

Disarming and Hand-to-Hand Combat

This is where the game really shines. Although the hand-to-hand combat doesn’t allow too much diversity other than a few combos, a grab and a dodge, the disarms in Dead to Rights make up for everything. As the game progresses you will learn new disarms that you can use against foes with different weapons; for example, when you press left and B when unarmed and facing an enemy with a shotgun you will do something different than when facing a foe with a pistol. In options you can change the game so that your super cop will perform a random disarm under a random camera-angle and under a random speed; however you can also do this manually which I highly recommend. This is how it works: after you pressed the B button while unarmed to perform a disarm, pressing B again will enter slow motion mode and pressing X will change the camera. As simple as this sounds, it sure kept me busy trying every disarm under different camera-angles simply because they looked so awesome.

Unfortunately I can’t speak in such a way over the hand-to-hand combat system. Usually you will be surrounded by enemies, but only one will attack you at a time. Pressing A results in a punch, X will kick and B will grab. Right trigger will make your character block at the cost of adrenaline…and that’s about it. Hand-to-hand combat in Dead to Rights come down to holding the right trigger until the enemy is done with his combo and then pressing A five times to knock him down. Even though it is simple, it is still difficult to get the hang of, and it still requires aome skill to fight properly. The fact is, however, that the system is pretty boring. Luckily hand-to-hand combat against regular foes doesn’t play a big role in the game.

Man’s best friend

Your dog Shadow is probably your only friend. When selecting him, or when targeting an enemy and pressing X (given that the enemy is within range), Shadow will attack the enemy, grab his weapon and give it to you. It looks extremely brutal and it sure comes in handy. However, after every attack Shadow will be fatigued and it will take a while before he can help out again. Shadow saved my life more than once, and often I would just let him take out the last enemy because it looks cool.

Mini-games

This part is great – without it Dead to Rights would have become very repetitive and boring. Namco put in several mini-games to keep variety in the game and thus manages keep the player happy. Mini-games range from disarming bombs to lifting weights to armwrestling. The system is pretty easy to get to grips with most of the time, like mini-games should be; but after you’ve completed one you can play it anytime you want again because it will show up in the menu. A great addition indeed!

Boss fights

The good ol’ boss asswhooping is still active in this game. Boss fights are also very diverse; whether you take the boss out with your fists or with weapons, every boss needs a different approach. I don’t want to give away too much about it so you’ll just have to trust me – the bosses in Dead to Rights are done extremely well and are a pleasure to take out for good.

Sound

The music in Dead to Rights bumps up the tension when bullets start flying, but otherwise doesn’t really add much. The gunshots are done pretty well, and super cop Jack Slate also sounds pretty good. Some other characters don’t sound so well though, but voice acting is above standard.

Lifespan

The endless wave of enemies will prove not to be endless in about 8 hours. However, the game does provide enough to go through it again. With 3 difficulty settings, mini-games, great cut-scenes, awesome disarm moves, a lot of different weapons and ways to kill enemies one could actually say the game is just as good the second time you play it as the first time. In fact, the human shields alone offer enough to play it every once in a while. The fact that you can jump straight to any chapter you’ve completed from the menu you will play it over and over again, but in smaller sections. All in all I guess it can keep you busy for 15 hours without becoming boring in any way at all.

Overall

Dead to Rights offers tense battles, a story that could fit right in a comic, mini-games, great boss battles and most of all: Brutality. If you liked Max Payne, you will certainly enjoy this. The game provides a constant challenge making it hard to complete every time, plus unlocking all the disarms is something most gamers would want to do.

This game does have issues; nevertheless it’s fun, plain and simple. If you can get it for a reasonable price, then I definitely recommend it.

7.2/10

by

Version tested: Xbox