Review by vihena

"This COULD have been such an awesome game!"

It's not often that I rate a game so bad, but Dead to Rights really takes the cake. So much of this game could have made it the best game of the year. But due to bad game design, and half-@$$ implementation, the game became a Hero to Zero in 10 seconds.

Story 5/10:
It's the standard ''Who killed my (fill here)?'' sort of thing. The story is about a guy named Jack Slate, who is trying to find out who killed his dad, and take action. Pretty simple, and it works pretty well, although not original. The game tries to use Max Payne style of storytelling with the same type of voice actor. You can totally tell that Namco America was trying to go for that Max Payne look and feel.

Controls 8/10:
They take a bit of getting used to, but the tutorial level helps with that. Once you get used to the controls, it falls in pretty naturally. They're quite tight. But not tight enough. I think it mostly has to do with the fluidity of the animations.

Gameplay 1/10:
This is where it totally falls apart. The style of play is very similar to Max Payne. In fact, more often than not, you'll feel like you're playing a Max Payne game - the whole dive and roll, the Bullet Time... The problem comes in with your ammo. You have a very small maximum that you can carry. Enemies drop guns like you wouldn't believe, but more often than not, you'll find yourself running out of ammo extremely quickly. The game tries to remedy this with a very cool ''disarm'' feature, where Jack can approach an enemy, and do some nasty things to him and get his weapon. All that is very cool, but considering the AI is programmed to ''back up and shoot'', you'll find yourself chasing people around and getting shot at like you're the pig in the middle.

Another flaw is the targeting feature. You hold the trigger button to target an enemy. Problem is, it's not that well implemented and can cause serious frustration in tight situations, and when you want to target a specific enemy.
The camera, as many other reviewers have stated, is also problematic.

In terms of enemies, there is no variety in a stage. All the enemies look the same for the stage, and they also seem to spawn behind a wall or door, and run in to shoot you. I swear, you'd think there were cloning stations situated around the area. You do usually have a large enough area that you can take on the waves and endless waves of enemies, but you'll get really tired of it very quickly as the same brother, twin, triplet just kinda runs in, stands there, and starts shooting you. You almost will never know when the stage will end, and when the enemies will just stop coming in.

When you are weaponless, you go into hand-to-hand fighting mode, which Max Payne didn't have, but Shenmue does. Unfortunately, your arsenal of moves is VERY VERY limited. What's even worse is your enemies have the same moves as you, except they're better at using them. This can get frustrating, and at the same time, extremely boring.

Overall, you'll find yourself saying ''Again?!'' or ''More?!'' quite often.

There are like, 2 mini-games in the game. The first is a ''Stripdance'' type thing, where you're controlling a stripper (Jack's sister) to distract some guards. Think Parappa the Rapper, and you kind of have the idea of what's expected. The second involves disabling a time bomb, but it involves running a ball through a maze type thing, and passing certain points of the maze will give you ''Time Extended'' bonus to disable the bomb. What?! It's a bomb! Not a Gameboy!

One cool feature is Jack's dog. He can jump into the game, and attack your enemies, disarm them, and retrieve their weapons for you. A nice touch, until your dog dies, of course. But it's not enough to add a whole lot to the gameplay.

Sound 5/10:
You can almost say ''Hey! That's from Max Payne!'' 'nuff said.
The voice acting is horrid too. It's a mix between Max Payne, and the guy from Vice City.

Music 3/10:
Drone drone drone...
Please turn that off. Fortunately, it's not really noticeable during gameplay. You'll be able to ignore it pretty quickly.

Graphics 7/10:
Not the best, but looks very clean, and nicely modeled. There are some problems here and there, but it's so subtle, that you'll let it go pretty easily. The character designs are extremely lacking though. They lack originality, and those that are original (rare) look pretty awful that you'd wish they just stole some more ideas instead.

Overall 3/10:
This game could have been a great game. The presentation of it is very good. Everything about it is really COOL. The graphics are good, the intro is well done, and the idea is just outright amazing. It basically takes Max Payne to the next level by implementing all these extra features. But if only it really did. This would have been a 9/10. It's almost as if this game was only half done.
The fighting engine needs serious work. If they had gone the whole way and really worked it, put in more moves, introduce more tactics, counter-attacks, and combos... made it more like Shenmue or Tekken, or Dead or Alive.
The 3rd person shooting aspect should have been implemented more like Max Payne, or any other traditional shooter. Sure, it would lack originality, but why fix what's not broken?
Considering the basis and the world that this story is set in, there could have been SO MUCH MORE story development and character development!
In the end, I blame bad management, and bad game design. All the rest, concept design, art, programming, it's all there!

Fun Factor 3/10:
You'll have fun for the first 20 minutes because of all the cool things that you can do, but after that, it all goes down the crapper as things start to get very repetitive.

Buy or Rent:
Don't even rent it! Games like these are a huge waste of time. The intro will get you interested, and really hype you up, but that hype quickly dies in 15 to 20 minutes.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 12/20/02, Updated 12/20/02


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