27th April 2010 - Back in early 2000‘s, after the success of action mammoth Max Payne, there were a ton of copy artists who failed to live up to the high octane action of Max. Dead to Rights was one of those copy cats, and after a few off-set sequels and spin offs, the ’Rights series has finally made its long awaited current gen update. Aptly titled, Dead to Rights: Retribution looks to rights the wrongs of the somewhat despised and unoriginal series, but with such a high demand of extreme quality in the shooting genre, can this back row action game succeed in becoming the great third-person action shooter we’ve been waiting for? Read on to find out…
Jack’s back, and this time he’s on a mission of revenge and justice. Wait, didn’t that happen in the first game? That’s right; Retribution is essentially a ‘re-imagining’ of the original games story. It has essentially the same pretence; Jack’s father is unjustly murdered in the call of duty and Jack takes it upon himself to extract revenge on those responsible and find out what’s really happening in the shadowy streets of Grant City. It’s a tale we’ve all come to know and expect from action games, and in this modern age, should be reserved for the half-assed big budget action films that seem to be fond of it too. The first step to a good game should always be a decent story, but Retribution just doesn’t meet the standards. It’s an unoriginal, over explored tale of revenge and doesn’t even meet the deeply personal and dark events of the original, which was the game’s most critically praised attribute.
But enough about why you’re doing what you’re doing as Jack. How about just what you are doing? With a downfall of fiery lead and one heck of a right hook. Similar to how the second game went about changing the formula of the first; Retribution takes the action to yet another high. The gun play is great, and using what has now been become known as a ‘Gears-style cover system’, is Dead to Rights is one heck of a furious shooting experience. Slo-mo headshots and a fire-hose of blood riddle the battlefield as you run and jump between cover taking out the copious amounts of enemies. But given how you hardly get any ammo for your weapons, Retribution has come packaged with completely revamped fighting mechanics. And to say the least; it works wonders. The combat is very deep and you have access to a great amount of stylish combo’s, using a mixture of light, heavy and block breaking hits. Throw in some grappling and human shield taking abilities and you have yourself fun, action packed fights with the brutality and depth of a real fighting game.
To add a unique flavour to the mix, Dead to Rights: Retribution brings back the series infamous Shadow; your K-9 companion who wants in on the action even more than you do. Using a simple series of commands via the D-Pad, you can control Shadow to help you take on the gangs of Grant City and he really does provide himself to be a useful companion. Especially on the levels where, due to some sort of unforeseen event, you must take direct control over him. Sneaking, tricking and downright mutilating the opposition, Shadow provides a fun and different way to mix up the otherwise dull level design and story structure.
During the games first cut scene, the moment you spy Jack you will think to yourself something along the lines of, “Wow, this game has pretty neat graphics”. But in truth, given 10 minutes or so that statement will be the last thing in your mind. Jack, Shadow, and a few other ‘main’ characters look pretty darn good, and have some great animation as they move and fight their way around the place. But that’s as far as the good part of Retributions graphics go. The characters, weapons, animation, and most of all, the environment in this game look like they were ripped from a budget shooter from 5 years ago. More in par with the likes of The Warriors, Dead to Rights: Retribution has some truly underwhelming visuals that put it out of place in a time of such detailed motion capture and believable scenery.
There is a lot of swearing in this game, that’s a given. But what you may not expect is the quality in which the swear filled script is delivered through the game. Its sound quality is amazing, and the voice actors really let you have it. However, the quality doesn’t dictate the acting all of the time. There are many times throughout the personal narrative where Jack really gets out of character and tone, often screaming his words at times that would have best been delivered in a subtle manner. With a voice more fitted to the likes of the new ‘300’ movie, he fills the air with angered rage-fits of hatred, and although yes, he is supposed to be an angry man who just had his dad murdered, it’s not a pleasant sound and often will induce you into a fit of laughter as it gets out of hand at certain points.
The rest of the games sound doesn’t open ears to anything too exciting either. It may be delivered in the same high quality as the voice work, but with lack of any kind of interesting score and stock-sounding gun effects, there is still much to be desired.
Yet another standard length game that leaves holes in your wallet very unjustly; Retribution gives players about 7 hours of action and not a lot of replay value. Beat it once, and you might find yourself returning to conquer a higher difficulty level, but even that’s a long shot. The levels are too dull and boring to make you want to replay the thing, and there isn’t even a multiplayer component to be had. Some sort of deathmatch might have worked, but a co-op would have worked wonders. The potential of the classic man/dog companionship thrown into a two player game mode would work amazing, and it’s a real shame this wasn’t realized with Dead to Right: Retribution.
But multiplayer doesn’t always make the title; if a game has itself a good campaign of good quality then it would still be worth the price tag. But not only is Dead to Rights campaign short, it’s also of under par gameplay and really lets you down on the quality side of things.
Bad controls, dated graphics and a shockingly acted story; Dead to Rights: Retribution is far from a Retribution of the series. The game lacks the raw ‘oomph’ required for an action shooter to leave its mark, but does present a few neat features to marvel over. But the novelty of playing as the games dog and the somewhat deep combat still can’t save this flop from failing. A decent and enjoyable effort, but overall Dead to Rights: Retribution is a poor show and far from the unexpected.
AAG SCORE: 7/10
+ Very fluent gun-play and action throughout
+ Hand to hand combat is deep and enjoyable
+ Shadow provides a welcome change of pace and is awesome!
- Overall look and feel of game and graphics is dated
- Thoughtless, predictable story: badly acted by most characters too
- Not much value for money in both quality and quantity
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott