With the recent surge of resurrected game properties, Dead to Rights stands out as one of the stranger ones. The originalDead to Rights games received mediocre reviews and didn’t seem to get anyone that excited. That still didn’t stop anyone from trying to recapture that “glory” with Dead to Rights Retribution. I didn’t think there was enough name recognition there to bother but who was to say, maybe they would do something great with it. Well in true Dead to Rights fashion, Retribution is receiving mediocre reviews, and doesn’t seem to be getting anyone too excited. Oh how little has changed.
I’m not too familiar with the series, having only played the first one, but as I understand this is actually a reboot of the series. The main character is still Jack “Big Fuckin’ Arms” Slate and you are still accompanied by your dog Shadow. Although here you actually don’t have the dog in the beginning, so I guess it’s kind of an origin story. In case you played the other games and wondered “Man, I really wish I knew where he got a dog.” It’s nothing cool like he found him in a meteor or anything though, so don’t get too excited.
The game is a mix of third person shooting and combat. You make your way through ten chapters, shooting and punching wave after wave of bad guys. The whole thing is very linear. Run forward, kill some guys, run forward, and repeat. There’s no branching paths or dramatic change-ups in the game play. Once you’ve beaten the first couple of levels, you’ve basically seen everything there is to see here.
For the first little while I will admit I was kind of enjoying myself. The hand to hand combat is a little more in depth than I expected. You can do combos, block, evade, the usual. Once you weaken an enemy enough you do a takedown move which is always gloriously over the top, such as kicking an enemy in the face hard enough that he gets air, only to kick him in the face two more times. The problem with these takedown moves is that there are only so many of them and they can’t be skipped. As cool as that face-kicking move was at first, you’ll really stop caring once you sit through the 10 second animation for the 18th time. This alone will make you want to avoid the hand-to-hand stuff.
I don’t have a particular issue with the gun play, other than its kind of meh. You do run out of ammo very quickly, which can be irritating, but it’s usually easy to find more so that didn’t bother me so much. Aside from that it works almost exactly as you would expect. You can duck behind cover, head shots are near instant take downs, you know the drill. It’s a third person cover based shooter, what else is there really to say?
The one somewhat unique element Dead to Rights bring to the table is your dog Shadow, who you actually get to play as this time around. I said earlier that the dog wasn’t discovered in a meteor, but I wouldn’t have been surprised because this is the smartest dog to ever walk the planet. He might be the smartest animal in general who has ever walked the planet. I can’t accept he was bred here on Earth. All you have to do is tell him “Go get the keys Shadow” and the dog immediately knows: where the keys are, how to get there without being spotted by guards, how to quietly murder the guards who happen to get in your way, and how to properly hide their dead bodies so they aren’t discovered. All without any training as far as I can tell. It makes for the most impressive Stupid Pet Trick I can imagine.
The Shadow sequences are interesting, but not all that fun. It essentially boils down to pretty basic and boring stealth mechanics. Hide in the shadows until the guard turns his back, and then quietly pounce on him and gnaw on his groin until he dies. Oh yes, that is one of the many ways that Shadow kills enemies. He seems to rotate between crotch biting, throat ripping, and simply digging into their chest while blood shoots everywhere. It’s actually quite brutal. That is one deeply disturbed pooch. Maybe he thinks he’s actually just playing and has no idea he is murdering all these people. Either way, as surprising and eerily entertaining as it is to watch these vicious K9 murders at first, like the takedown moves they too get tiresome to watch all too quickly.
There is no online to speak of here, just the single play campaign, which is surprisingly long. It is definitely longer than the average third person shooter. The problem is that actually means it completely wears out its welcome. You may be having fun at first but by the 7th or 8th chapter you will be more than ready for everything to wrap up. It’s rare that I feel I would have enjoyed a game more had it been shorter, but that is definitely the case here.
To be fair, Dead to Rights is not a bad game by any stretch, it’s just painfully average. Nothing about it makes it stand out from other third person shooters out there. It’s painfully difficult to recommend at its current $60 price point. However once it hits closer to the 20-30 region, I would say it’s at least worth a look.