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Game Profile
GENRE: Action
November 21, 2002
Dead to Rights: Retribution

Dead to Rights: Retribution

Dead to Rights: Reckoning

Dead to Rights II

Dead to Rights II

More in this Series
 Written by Kyle Williams  on January 27, 2003

Full Review: Action gaming for the masses.

Over the last several years there has been a growing trend in which the line between video games and movies has been blurred. Since the mid 1980s there have been games based off of movies, but the technology is finally getting to the point where the game can keep up with it's silver screen counterpart. Take a look at The recent EA release of The Lord of The Rings and the fantastic use of movie footage to compliment the gameplay. Dead to Rights is one of the games that is helping to establish a new generation of video games, a generation that is becoming a cinematic experience in and of itself. Dead to Rights borrows a page from action legends like John Woo and puts together some of the most impressive firefights I've ever seen. To complete the bridge between mediums, Dead to Rights even employs screenwriter Flint Dille to create a story and characters that are worthy of the big screen. As Jack Slate, you spend your time in Grant City trying to solve your father's murder and unravel a web of betrayal and corruption that has torn your life apart. At your disposal is a slew of Hollywood theatrics, your trusty dog Shadow, and all of the ammunition that you can find.

Dead to Rights is made up of straightforward gunslinging with a dose of Hollywood theatrics. In addition to some brutal disarming moves and being able to take your enemies as human shields, Dead to Rights employs an adrenaline system that allows you to target multiple enemies while diving across the war zone. We've seen the effect before, both in games and movies, but it works well and becomes vital to successfully making your way through the game. Another feature that helps to even the playing field is your faithful K-9 companion Shadow. When you call upon Shadow, he viscously disembowels an opponent and brings back their weapon for you to use.

Mini-games help to break up the action and add depth to what could have been an uninspired action romp. As we all know, even the best of action games can get stale and repetitive if the action doesn't have any variation to it. Dead to Rights avoids this pitfall with several varied side tasks that range from exotic dancing to lifting weights to disarming bombs. Many of these tasks revolve around either timed or rapid button presses. However, they do help to vary the pace of the game and I have to admit that the exotic dancing is hilarious and adds a whole new dimension to action video games.

They always say that the first bite of any meal is with the eye. Well, with video games that first sample of a game is with both the eye and ear and while Dead to Rights serves up a strong appetizer in the intro, the rest of the meal has courses that are both hit and miss. On the plus side, the cinematic sequences are top notch with some of the best dialog and voice acting I've ever seen in a video game. Admittedly, I have seen a few that were prettier, but the overall production fits the genre like a glove. The in game sound is also solid with firing sounds unique to each weapon and a generally well balanced aural palette. Unfortunately, the graphics are a mixed bag. While the animations, especially the theatrical dives and disarms, are well put together, the models and textures aren't as refined as we've begun to expect. Those aren't a problem when compared to the fact that I started seeing enemy guns protruding through doors. Small things like that really detract from an otherwise well put together visual package that is full of remarkable detail.

In general, Dead to Rights is an impressive mix of cinema and interactive entertainment. This meld is made possible through the various mini-games that are packed in the story as they are the only element that really ties the two pieces together. Unfortunately, in the times where the mini-games are sparse, the story and action don't seem related. They almost seem like two separate entities that happen to share the same game disc. Don't get me wrong, both of the parts are constructed fantastically. For the next time around, mixing a few more mini-games into the fray will help to balance the load a little bit more.

Bottom Line
Dead to Rights is an intense action title that blurs the line between cinema and video games. The John Woo inspired action is intense and fills in the gaps between the fantastically produced cinematic sequences. A few small flaws keep the game from being stellar, but the overall package is a fast paced good time. Besides, what other game gives you the opportunity to control an exotic dancer and shoot hundreds of bad guys?

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