"Hey guys, I just finished this game in 25 minutes!"
My friend crowed the news of his victory in my face. He had walked into my room, found Judge Dredd, which he had never played before, and completed it within a half-hour. "Well", I thought, "there goes someone's fifty bucks." This game has some positive features, but, for the most part, it consists of a whole host of problems.
The first is the premise. Based on the successful comic book (which spawned a horrible movie starring Sylvester Stallone), the game places you as one of society's law enforcement officials who are part Judge Wapner, part Wyatt Earp. Capable of meting out justice (and executions) on the streets of some Orwellian city of the future, your goal is to fight your way through a horde of android troopers to some megaboss that just happens to be a former judge himself. All the action takes place as a first person gun game, like Virtua Cop 2.
Unfortunately, that's where the similarity ends. One feature that I really liked about Virtua Cop 2 was the way in which the game would build suspense by placing you in a room, pausing the action for a moment, and then unleashing an army of criminals from all corners of the room. Not so in this game. Judge Dredd places the character on a continuously moving track, with enemies coming from everywhere like an assembly line. If you do not hit them the first time, no worries, for they will simply disappear behind you. Apparently it is impossible to be shot in the back in this game.
The graphics themselves are fairly good, but nowhere near the crisp, clean world of Virtua Cop 2. When the game designers promise a "destructive world", they are referring to the items on the screen that can be shot and destroyed for special power-up bonuses. What is really lame about this is the fact that there is constantly so much clutter on the screen, from enemies to wall decorations, that you really cannot figure out what you are supposed to shoot. This is especially so, when you consider that the enemies tend to almost always look like the background.
So, you decide to play this game, and even with all of the crap flying around and enemies coming out of the woodwork, you still manage to shoot relatively on target and pass the first level. The second level gets a bit better, as the two-dimensional characters on the screen get closer to you, but, of course, they do not do any more damage than they did when they were in the background.
Complete the level and there is a portion where you must shoot at a variety of things flying around in some sort of hangar. But this seems like more of a shooting gallery than a real game world (remember the fun of full-motion video in computer games?). One could very well be shooting at a movie on the screen rather than anything that is supposed to be firing back. Keep playing for another twenty minutes and you may just complete the game.
What bothers me about Judge Dredd is that instead of creating something original or well designed, the designers figured that the novelty of the genre would carry the game. Essentially, there's too much to see, too much to shoot at, too much repetition, and too little substance and play value.