Review by Jame Son
"Intense? You bet! But maybe too much..."
The first time I played Dead to Rights was in a Funcoland at one of those little demo Xboxes. I played all the way up through the strip club level, and I left feeling fairly satisfied with the gaming experience I just...uh, experienced. Unfortunately, I don't own an Xbox. So when this game simultaneously came out for the PS2 and Gamecube (I own both), I decided I would pick it up for the Cube (since I slightly prefer the Cube control to the PS2 one). I was excited to finally be able to play the full version of the game I had tested out a few months earlier.
GAMEPLAY - 7/10
The one problem is, once you've played through one section of this game, you've pretty much played through them all. Dead to Rights revolves around Grant City cop Jack Slate, a Max Payne wannabe who shoots his way through several environments and literally hundreds of thugs trying to solve the mystery of his father's murder. With the help of a targeting system that actually works, Jack is able to handle most of his guns with ease (not to mention there is no reloading, you just toss away emptied guns and pick new ones off dead foes). Jack can also use his pet dog Shadow to maul an enemy and retreive his weapon, slo-mo bullet time to take out a group of punks before they can react, and even enemies themselves as human shields to protect from oncoming gunfire. And if you run out of ammo, no problem! Just press X while near a bad guy to disarm him and take his weapon. These disarms are way cool and showcase some of the most badass moves I've ever seen in a game. Now this shoot-a-thon extravaganza makes up the bulk of DTR, but at times Jack is forced to go toe-to-toe with goons using nothing but his fists. These parts of the game aren't nearly as fun as the parts with guns, since beating up bad guys is repetitive and sometimes unfair, as you're almost always up against three or four guys at once who can easily kick your ass from behind while you're focused on someone else (it's also lucky for Jack than whenever he doesn't have a gun handy, none of the bad guys do either, eh?).
There are also several minigames sprinkled throughout the levels, and these successfully spice up the mix a little bit. They range from challenging (bomb disarming) to stupidly simple (Hildy's striptease), and super fun (protecting Eve) to super repetitive (damn lock picking).
Anyway, back to the ''played one level, played them all'' remark. I mean exactly what I say. With the exception of the bad guys getting a bit stronger and numerous, every level is similar to the one you just did. Run from room to room and shower the walls with bullets and blood, then find some much needed health and armor in a hidden corner, and run to the next room to do it again. The game stays challenging and action-packed, but I admit I got bored with the same freakin' scenarios over and over again. By the end of the game, guaranteed Jack has probably killed half of the city, for Lord's sake. Saving graces include the previously mentioned minigames, and boss fights that offer honest-to-God entertainment and challenge.
GRAPHICS/SOUND - 6/10
Graphics...hmm...not so good. Better than Die Hard: Vendetta, but not by much. Max Payne looks better than this. The whole game just looks very bright and cartoony, although this may be its intention. Jack Slate runs unrealistically and looks ridiculous during his slow motion dive. And once again, all enemies look the same. This annoys me badly and will probably never be fixed until long after I'm dead or don't play games anymore. The cinema scenes are awesome, though, as are the disarms, and I must admit Hildy looks damn fine for a polygonal chick in a thong.
Sound fares a bit better, but not by much. Music is bland and forgettable, not to mention most themes are repeated in many levels, which is unforgiveable. The voice acting is pretty good, thank God, but for some reason Jack Slate's voice gets on my nerves. It's still pretty good, but it just sounds like he's trying to imitate Max Payne's deadpan wiseass style, but it comes off as too fake and hokey. Other voices are great, especially ex-boxer Rafshoon Diggs, who is portrayed by none other than Peg-Leg Peter from MGS2. I love that guy's voice, I must say.
STORY - 8/10
If this game has anything on Max Payne, it may be the story. Although no where near as gritty and realistic as Payne's tale of woe, Dead to Rights' is much more involved, interesting, and full of twists, turns, and doublecrosses. It takes a page from Max Payne by killing off a close member of Jack Slate's family to fuel his rage, and then framing him for a murder he didn't commit just to ensure that he has absolutely no friends to help him out. But then it delves into mystery and betrayal as Jack finds out that the people he once thought of as allies may not be what they seem. I won't give anything away, but it's a good thing that the story was so intriguing, since I don't know if I could get through all the repetitive levels if the story was boring too.
OVERALL - 7/10
I can't think of a better game for people that want nothing more than an overly intense shooter that never lets up than Dead to Rights. Just realize that if you want a game that tests your wits rather than your thumb strength, look elsewhere. The story is great, but the gameplay, graphics, and sound are nothing special. Max Payne is a better game than this, although Dead to Rights is still very charming. And if you're interested, I'm sure this game has a higher body count than every other videogame ever created in the history of the world, since the beginning of time.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/15/03, Updated 01/15/03
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