First Impressions: When blood doubles as paint
Watching old Hong Kong action movies has always been one of my favorite hobbies. Maybe it's how the actors seem weightless as they fly through the air gracefully, whilst beating the living hell out of whoever is in their way. Maybe it's the paper-thin storylines, that despite their overwhelming stupidity and simplicity, I still can't seem to figure out (can anyone tell me what the hell Project A or Drunken Master were about?). Maybe though the real thing I love about these movies is far simpler than even that - maybe I just think its cool watching blood spray everywhere.
Whatever my true fascination is with Hong Kong cinema doesn't matter. What does matter is what properties of this art style have made it across seas and onto our shores. One style of action that has made the trek to the states is the bloody bullet-bath style scenes that director John Woo popularized.
Picking up on the popularity of movies like Hard Boiled and The Killer were two different publishers at the beginning of the Xbox's life cycle. Both developers sought to match film noir with huge gun battles. One publisher, Rockstar, put out their game, entitled Max Payne, to great success. The other publisher, Namco, released their game, Dead To Rights, later on, which didn't meet as much success as Max Payne enjoyed.
But, if Namco has its way, that will all change with Dead To Rights second volume - Hell To Pay. The game hopes to capitalize on all that was good in the first Dead To Rights, and rid itself of the many flaws that plagued that first title in order to put out a tighter, more solid game.
All that's known about the plot so far is that the game once again follows the misadventures of on-the-edge copper Jack Slate and his dog Shadow as they scurry about the streets of Grant City, entering the deep dark depths that the city's criminals have created.
Other than that other characters from the first game will return, along with a lot of the same gameplay ideas. Once again players will have the ability to use slow motion and acrobatics to best their foes. Players will also be able to use precision shooting, Wall mode, toss and shoot, and human shields.
So what's new? A new graphics engine is being put in place, designed in order to improve overall performance with added polygons, detailed lighting, and a framerate that won't chug even when tons of enemies are flying around onscreen.
Namco is also seeing that the usual upgrades are being applied to the game. Stuff that you see in a sequel to any action title. Jack Slate will be equipped with more weapons this time around, including some new melee weapons such as baseball bats, knives, and chainsaws. A new array of enemies is also being added, which will hopefully make the gameplay experience more varied in the final product.
A lot of questions still remain unanswered though, such as the one that everybody who played the original Dead To Rights is thinking: Is the game gonna be a little easier this time around? Also, what kind of minigames is Namco planning to bundle in with the game in Hell To Pay? Will Shadow be given more things to do?