Review by DOA

"It's like a John Woo movie you can play. But like most John Woo movies, it sucks"

Originally conceived as a Sega Dreamcast game and when the Dreamcast died off it was shipped off to the Playstation 2. Finally, after oh so many years in production hell, Dead to Rights finally hits home on the Microsoft X-box. But with all the wait, is it really worth it?

You are Jack Slate. A K-9 cop for the Grant City police department with his dog partner, Shadow. After the murder of his father, Jack nearly goes off the deep edge. After he is framed for the murder of a wealthy philanthropist and is sentenced to death at Iron Point prison. Seven months pass before he gets his chance to escape. When Jack escapes, he sets out to find the man who ordered his father's murder, as well as the man who pulled the trigger and to clear his good name.

Visually, Dead to Rights is a little bit of a disappointment. The backgrounds look and feel like a Dreamcast title. With the incredible power of the X-box, you think Namco would go over-the-top and make this game something that will be remembered for years to come. This game feels like a rush job. Most of the character models look bland and one-dimensional with the exception of the main character and some of the chapter bosses. Other then that, all the other characters look alike, fight alike, sound alike. What really kills me is that Namco did not put forth enough effort to make any of the character's lips move during the in-game cut scenes. Even the eyes do not blink, which makes them look lifeless. Just the lack of fine tuning within the game really hurts the game itself.

Sound quality is best described as average. The industrial rock score that kicks in during the fights is nice, but it turns out to be fairly forgettable and can be quite annoying. The score isn't as spectacular as Metal Gear Solid 2's or as memorable as Onimusha's. The voice acting is below par. Jack Slate's nearly lifeless story telling is almost as bad as Max Payne's. Ok, ok, he's not THAT bad. Thankfully, Jack does not sound like a drunk Kiefer Sutherland. As for the rest, say no more. The script was poorly written and the dialogue is poorly delivered. The voice-acting just does not throw you into the sub-par Max Payne-esqe story.

Gameplay for Dead to Rights has many faults. First off, there is no difficulty setting. Second there are countless mini games that nearly destroy the game. You have lock picking, which can be a horrible pain as the further you move down the tumbles, the faster it goes. A few parts of the game where you have to defuse a hoard of bombs while guiding a pin ever so slowly and ever so cautiously to the end part because if the pin hits any of the circuits: boom! There is an homage to Silent Scope where you have to shoot a bunch of faceless drones shooting at a second-tier character which lasts entirely too long for it's own good. There is also a dance sequence where you need to time what buttons on the controller you need to press in sequence. What really kicks it is that it lacks the rhythm that Parappa the Rapper had, the buttons are spaced so far apart, it is very easy to pass. Then there are a few mini games within the game that should have been left out, like a punching bag mini game where you need 150 hits within 2 minutes. Or weight lifting that goes from 135 pounds to over 300 pounds. But the worst has to be the arm wrestling challenge. Too many mini games substitute for the actual game and will definitely discourage a purchase.

The fighting mechanics are comprised of just punches and fancy roundhouse kicks. There is almost no depth to it. Well, there are a few new tricks you can learn over the course of the game, but it pales in comparison to the fighting mechanics of Shenmue. But it is just plain fun to grab a bad guy and watch Jack break his neck in a slow motion with some fancy take down move. You can even use a bad guy as a shield while you engage is some ultra fast paced gun play and when it's over you just cap your shield right in the head with a bullet.

The most talked about part of this game is the Max Payne trademark: Bullet time. Well, Namco just renamed it and called it, ''adrenaline.'' Many people criticized this as a rip off. Adrenaline is a very effective weapon in taking out a group of enemies. But during gun play you will have to think and use your partner, Shadow, to take down enemies and the dog can bring back the weapon of the fallen bad guy. If you just run and gun and try to take down everyone like Rambo you will die. But if you use the adrenaline, the dog, and a little strategy, you will come out on top. Even if you have to repeat the level a few dozen times if a mini game at the end of the level botches your progress.

Replay value is not a high mark. A few unlockable disarming techniques, a movie reel and to jump to the different chapters. This game is more of a weekend rental and not a long-term purchase.

Graphics: 6

Looks and feels just like Dreamcast game. Poor textures and bland character designs.

Sound: 4

A forgettable soundtrack and dull voice acting really does not emerse you into the game.

Gameplay: 6

This is best described as the thinking man's action title. You need to use a variety of objects to complete an area. But the game is bogged down with too many mini-games.

Replay Value: 2

Offers no real reason to play through more then once. No alternate costumes, or a different ending.

Final Thoughts: After several years in production, Dead to Rights is a disappointment to say the least. It does offer a unique challenge for some die hard gamers. This is, at best, a weekend rental. Play it, beat it, say no more.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 12/20/02, Updated 12/20/02


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