Dead to Rights: Retribution

May 23, 2010

Dead to Rights is a series that started out with promise, but fell flat on its face with the second installment. The first game definitely was enjoyable while it lasted, and it combined some solid shooting mechanics with even better hand to hand combat. The two blended together rather seamlessly, but when the second game came around, everyone gave up on what could have been a rather successful action series. Here we are, five years later, with a reboot of the series that has the potential to live up to the original.

Just like the first two games, Retribution stars Detective Jack Slate and his canine companion Shadow. Although this is not connected to the original two games in anyway, and in the beginning, Jack does not even have Shadow at his side. The story in general is rather weak, and just barely pushes the player along from one grimy looking area to another to take wave after wave of bad guys.

This is not a good looking game by any means. Everything about this game from the character models to the environments just scream last generation, and the voice acting is rather weak as well. Everything about the game’s presentation really makes me believe that the developers did not feel the need to even try to hold up to today’s standards. 

The gameplay itself? It works, which is always a good thing, but it’s all an incredibly forgettable experience. The controls are fine, the shooting feels solid, but the execution of it all is nothing exciting. The game is not only a shooter, but like the first two games, it allows you to switch to hand to hand combat on the fly. The combat itself is well thought out, but the way you switch between the two is awkward, and when certain enemies have guns and others just want to beat you up all in the same area, it can just get frustrating. Shooting them all seems like the simple answer, but that does that not work as well as one would hope.  

And then there are the Shadow levels, in which you sneak around and stealth kill enemies. It seems neat at first, but when you realize you are playing as a dog and dragging bodies to try and hide them, it’s hard not to laugh. Plus, these levels are very short and lack the punch that some of the better action sequences do. There are some memorable moments in the game, but they do not last very long and they are overshadowed by the rest of the game, which does nothing to help it stand out among the wide array of other action games on the market. 

As soon as the achievement popped up for “performing a groin takedown” with Shadow, I thought this game might be something special. However, the design only helped to prove me wrong in every conceivable way. If this game were strictly a shooter, it would probably be a fun weekend rental. As it stands, the final product falls short of even generic shooter territory and becomes a rather abysmal game with some few minor (but enjoyable) action sequences. If there is any good reason to keep this series from coming back again, this game is it. 

Pros: Controls are solid; shooting mechanics work

Cons: Muddled, ugly graphics; forgettable story; Shadow stealth levels are laughably bad; the combination of gunplay and fighting does not work nearly as well as it should

Score: 2/5

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