Review: Dead to Rights: Retribution
A cop that kills first, asks questions later teamed with a dog that loves to snack on grown men's testicles. Hmm... Sounds a bit like a Steven Seagal movie. But instead it's actually the latest from Namco Bandai. Dead to Rights: Retribution is a reboot of the series in which Jack Slate (somehow I think of Last Action Hero when I hear that name) is a tough as nails cop in the worst city around, Grant City, where Jack thinks he can clean it up and make the streets safe again for the citizens. Jack's father, Frank, is the police chief in Grant City and has a trusty dog by the name Shadow that is loyal only to Frank. Investigating a lead in a major crime ring, things go wrong and everything is left up to Jack, with the help of Shadow, to find out the conspiracy that is going on in the police force Jack faithfully serves.
As you can see, the story is still very empty of any one thing to make it really hard to care too much about it. The game's presentation looks a little rough and feels like it should be a late PS2 title more than a current gen release. The character models look a little too big in certain features as well as the textures looking a little flat and generic. A perfect example of character models is your dog Shadow. The dog appears on screen to look like a freaking bear more than a Husky. There is also a weird glow around Shadow that makes it seem like the dog was photo-shopped into the game last minute or happens to be The Last Dragon.
Luckily, the controls are simple when it comes to interacting with the game. It's a simple 3rd person view with your standard shooting mechanic that accompanies such styles. You can also mix it up with melee attacks by using light attacks, heavy attacks, blocks and combos depending on the right order of button presses. I found that the camera was very annoying since it was zoomed a little too much on Jack to the point that it made it hard to see anything sneaking up on you. It is demoralizing to pound on 2 guys in front of you only to be taken out by a guy out of your point of view. Also, the gun play is TERRIBLE. Very limited ammo mixed in with poor aiming controls leads to me just rushing guys and disarming them with a button press followed by one-hit kills with their own weapon to the head. Yes, headshots are instant death for the baddies and the game does slo-mo to let you know you just scored one.
There are also takedown actions you can perform when going fist-to-cuffs against the enemies. These involve beating the enemy to the point where a prompt pops up on the screen prompting you to hit a certain button ('A' on the Xbox 360). Once pressed, the game will take over and go through one of the few animated scenes it has for these moves. Although not many, the scenes are down right brutal. Nothing feels better then punting the dirtbag's head like you are trying to hit the game winning field goal at the Super Bowl.
One of the best parts of the game, sadly, is your dog Shadow. When controlling Jack, you can send Shadow to attack enemies, scout ahead or pick up weapons while you can hide like a coward from the enemies. Dead to Rights: Retribution also had to include missions where you play as Shadow. That's right. You actually get to play as a freaking dog (Wii fans got this chance years ago with Twilight Princess and PS2 owners with Okami but still...). Most of these missions are meant to be stealth missions since 3 hits will kill the poor canine. Still, you have the ability to see people through walls so you can sneak up on enemies and do a stealth kill. I had so much fun playing as Shadow that I didn't want the levels to end. Chasing down a guy running away from Shadow while shooting is the BEST thing visually in this game. They need to make a DSi game all about Shadow chasing down enemies and chomping on their nards. Not even the Wolfman would be safe.
Ultimately, asking full price for an incomplete feeling of a game is hard to swallow. I am not sure that rebooting the Dead to Right series was a wise choice for Namco Bandai or anything that anyone was really asking for. A little more time with the game and it could have been a solid game to rent and have a fun weekend with. Instead you should probably spend that money on a game for your Mac now that Steam is released.