|Dead to Rights|
|Developer: Namco Hometek
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
"Meet Jack Slate. A cop on the beat in Grant City…unaware that his next call is about to change his life."
But wait, don't immediately be put off by the totally clichéd opener, Dead to Rights isn't the hopeless mess that first springs into your mind when you read it, honest. We've already learnt about Jack Slate: the cool, mysterious tough guy type character that always seems to appear in games like this, but that isn't all that Jack has going for him, oh no, he has a dog too…
After an excellent intro full of nice effects and a large dose of suspense, the actual game begins with you exploring a building site in a kind of training environment. A nice helpful narration takes you through all the basics and you'll soon discover that DtR's control system is a lot like that of Max Payne - is it just a coincidence that Max is a slightly off-the-rails cop too? I think not. Officer Slate has got (almost) all the moves: running, strafing, diving, shooting, punching, kicking and slowing everything down (a la 'Bullet Time') are all dead easy to get the hang of, and the only gripe I'd have with the control system is the lack of an actual jump action - it just makes the exploration side of things a bit too limited at times.
It turns out that the place you're investigating is actually the crime scene of your father's murder, but despite your caring boss telling you to go home and get some rest you vow to avenge his death, and so its begins. DtR then takes you through multiple levels and plot twists, including stopping bombs and protecting a friendly assassin (yup…). If you hate spoilers then look away now, because I'm just about to tell you how you'll end up in prison, break out, break back in, get shot at, betrayed and lose a few friends before its all over. Its all very typical game-fare, but its put together well and the fact that it isn't badly voice-acted makes it almost worth watching the cut-scenes, almost.
Namco have tried to include MGS style stealth in DtR by letting you crouch down or back against various objects and peek out round corners, but the AI of the enemies is so inhumanly alert that if you manage to sneak up behind anyone I'll eat my hat, and my shoes. There are plenty of nice touches to the combat system though, you can grab enemies and use them as human shields or if you're weapon-less you can use one of the various disarming techniques to nick a weapon and use it against its (ex) owner. These aren't exactly huge feats of programming, but they definitely add something to an otherwise slightly shallow shooter.
The aiming in Dead to Rights is unusual; instead of being able to shoot freely and aim a cursor you use a lock-on system to target enemies, and although this works pretty well and makes for some fast-paced action you do come out of a gunfight feeling like you haven't had much to do with it. There is a first person mode that you can use to aim, but you have to be standing still so in the heat of battle it's next to useless. Although on the whole it works pretty well, due to the automatic feel of the aiming DtR sometimes feels more like a lightgun game than an action-shooter.
The graphics are very solid without being particularly special, the animation on the main character and the hundreds of enemies you encounter is pretty good, and the areas you go through all look nice enough, but you never get the impression that your big black box is working itself too hard. Saying that, there's rarely any slowdown - even with countless bad guys and explosions on screen at once, and a helpful camera and clearly defined routes through the levels mean you'll never get confused or lost.
Dead to Rights isn't much more than an arcadey Max Payne, it plays smoothly and the graphics are good, there are some truly excellent mini-games and the dog is really cool, but if your looking for depth and tactics in your shooter than DtR most definitely isn't for you.
- Fast-paced shooting action.
- Excellent mini-games.
- The dog is cool.
- A bit linear.
- Auto-aiming is boring.