Review by d0x

"DTR flawed in presentation but still fun"

Ahh Dead to Rights, so much hype, so much potential, but is that enough to warrant you spending your hard earned (or conned?) $50. Lets find out!

“Meet Jack Slate. A cop on the beat in Grant city…unaware that his next call is about to change his life. What he discovers will send him in a downward spiral into a labyrinth of corruption, betrayal, and crime. A super charged Action Noir thriller, Dead to Rights goes beyond Hollywood’s best action movies: The gripping storyline, the larger then life action hero, and the adrenaline charged experience deliver the performance of a lifetime.”

Graphics

The first thing you're going to notice in DTR is the basic character models that at times fill the screen, they aren’t bad but at the same time they aren’t good either…just basic. They just don’t have that smooth high detail look to them that most Xbox owners have come to expect. Another one of my gripes is the faked lighting, for instance when you first enter the Jail level you will notice Jacks shirt looks like a self shadowing masterpiece, when in fact its really just a texture that never changes no matter what the lighting conditions. The rest of the games lighting is pretty much the same, nothing great or dynamic, just simple and mellow. Textures also look very bland, basic colors, without an extreme amount of detail, running at a resolution that appears to be somewhere in between the PS2 and Xbox norm.

Animation is always key in a game no matter what genre, and this game does do a good job in that department. None of the animations look fake, except for maybe the sideways dive, but that could be due to the fact that when you dive the game goes into a bullet time state, which I might add was done a whole lot better in Max Payne, and is pretty much useless in this game since the enemies seem to be able to shoot and aim just as fast as you can. The best looking animations come from Disarms, there are plenty to unlock, and watching them in real-time or bulletime is fun, and never seems to get old for some reason.

The worst part of the whole game is the camera system. If I didn’t know any better I would say it was being controller by a drunken dwarf with no toes and only one hand. Don’t even think about getting close to a wall when someone is running up to shoot you cause chances are, all you will see is your own face while your life gets sucked away as if you were watching a Leonardo Dicaprio flick at summer camp! Even with all the flaws the graphics on a whole are average at best, and at times will help ease the pain of some of the more tedious levels.

Game cinemas are a mixed bag as well, some use the in game engine, and they look respectable, but there isn’t any mouth movement, and if there is I must have been looking elsewhere cause I can't recall seeing any of it. Then you have the CGI cinemas, which are good and bad in their own right, for some reason any scene that has a lot of light looks fantastic, but once that light goes away, you're stuck with blocky pixilated cinemas that made me think I was playing this game on 3DO for a brief moment.

Sound

Where is my Dolby 5.1? People have pretty much come to expect excellent sound coming from their Xbox, and while this game has some good effects it doesn’t properly use 5.1. Gun’s sound like guns, but they don’t have enough definition to be able to tell who is using what just by hearing the sound, except the shotgun, and handgun. Bullets hitting objects is also a little off, the attention to detail on certain things seemed to get lost in the shuffle, and it’s a shame because with the right audio package this game could have been so much more.

Another important aspect is Voice Acting, whoever does Jack Slate did a great job, he doesn’t have that campy B movie feel, and at times he even conveys emotion! Everyone else on the other hand is a little bit off, especially the Christopher Walken impersonator, what were they thinking?

Game play

This is like a mixture of party game, and action game, at times it works really well, and other time it makes you wish you never started playing.

The main part of the game is the shooting, which consists of locking onto a target, waiting until the reticule turns yellow or red and then opening fire. It may sound easy, but when there are 15 guys all shooting at you things can get a little hairy. Thankfully Namco has decided to give us objects to take cover behind, ala Time Crisis. It adds a whole new level to the gunplay and sucks you in as if it were a really intense movie. Don’t think you're safe yet though, because the AI has some tricks up their sleeves too, not only do they use cover, but they also rush in formations, some come from the front while others get you from the sides, and if their tactic doesn’t work as planned they will retreat. Another important aspect is ammo, you need it and it isn’t just lying around, you have to earn it by killing the person holding the gun, or by disarming him. Which brings me to disarms, they are fantastic and I am sure we will see them in many games to come. There are two basic ways to disarm, the first is to holster your weapon run up to the guy and hit B, which enters in some sweet animation depending on your approach, and the other is sending your faithful dog Shadow into the fray to take down your enemy and steal his gun! Another extremely useful feature is the human shield, get close enough to someone and pull them in front of you, they will block all bullets that would normally hit your front side until they die. If they last longer then the gunfight then you just hit B to throw them to the ground and shoot them in the head.

Hand-to-Hand combat is basic at best, you have a couple button mashing combos at your disposal, and you can dodge attacks(HOORAY!). Dodging use’s up adrenaline, which also controls bullet time, but you can regain adrenaline fast if you pummel the snot out of someone. Its best to stick to using your guns if it's possible, because hand to hand combat is brutally unfair at times, and might leave you heaving your controller across the room, and since the Xbox controller disconnects you will have no idea where it will stop, and who it might kill!

The worst area of game play has to be the mini games all of which are your standard tap the button as fast as you can, at first they are interesting, but after a while they just piss you off. At the start of the game you have to do simple things like picking locks, and arm wrestling, but later on your presented with disarming a bomb, which is cool at first, but if you mess up in the slightest its time to start the level over. I seemed to have luck with the bombs until I made it to the very last one and I touched the sides, which killed me, and I had to start waaaaay back at the start. Do that 3-4 times in a row and gamer's thumb won't be the only thing that your parents are worried about.

Controls

The only question I ask is why didn’t they go with the Max Payne style control scheme? The controls can be very frustrating at times, it’s mostly the targeting that’s the problem. You hit the R trigger and for some odd reason you will lock on to the guy 50 ft away while there is a guy right next to you pulling the trigger. This could all have been fixed by getting rid of auto target, and letting the player aim for them selves, in fact, I think the game would have been loads more fun if it was just like that.

That aside, the controls are easy to learn, so just about anyone can pick up and play, but the biggest offender here is still the camera system, when it goes all freaky you will find yourself running in circles and you wont have a clue what’s going on. The layout however is well done, and it's always easy to change a gun, or duck and cover, if you have a problem doing the basics in this game I think you should take a trip back to 1985 and retake NES 101.

Closing comments

You can tell this is a PS2 port, which doesn’t make it a bad game, but it doesn’t let it shine as it could have. The graphics are dull at times, and wont make you wet yourself like some of us are doing over the Halo 2 screens floating around ::drool:: and the sound is on par with the average Xbox launch title. The game play on the other hand is enjoyable if not a bit on the hard side…did a say a bit? I mean very hard. If you’re a gamer who loves all things action this is a must own title, but if you're just a weekend warrior I suggest giving this one a rent first. You never know you just might be surprised!

-Steve


Graphics 7
Sound 6
Gameplay 8
Control 7
Replay 8
OVERALL (not an average) 7







Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/28/02, Updated 08/28/02


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