Reborn, but not rebuilt. Review

Dead To Rights Info


  • N/A


  • N/A


  • Namco


  • Namco

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now


  • GameCube
  • PS2
  • Xbox


Reborn, but not rebuilt.

Like a fine, wood-aged dessert
, a video game port should be sweet and savory. And when it comes out
literally a half-year later than the original, it should feature all kinds of
hidden flavors.

“What am I going on about?” you ask? Three words: Dead to Rights. While
I’m at it, here are three more words: Too Damn Repetitive. But at least you
get to kill bad guys, and lots of ’em, which brings us to the last three words:
Now On PS2!

to Rights
made some waves at E3 this year thanks to its cinematic action
and brutal gunfights. Indeed, Namco’s latest hard-boiled action romp is heavily
steeped in Max Payne / Matrix / John Woo
flavor. Unfortunately, this port of the
Xbox version
offers very little new and suffers the same arcadey fate as
its hard boiled predecessor.

You play K-9 police officer Jack Slate. On his first mission, Jack finds a

near and dear family member lying in a pool of their own blood, shot to death.

Against the better judgment of his superiors, Jack begins a one-man mission

to find his father’s killer. Though it seems straightforward enough, the story

is easily one of the more interesting elements in Dead to Rights. It

begins simple and builds gradually with some nice twists and turns. Suffice

to say, the responsible party isn’t always the most obvious.

Dead to Rights borrows heavily from Hong Kong gangster movies, Syphon

Filter, Metal Gear

and most notably our resident Bullet-time favorite Max Payne, allowing

players a number ways to dish out their own blend of justice. Essentially, you

take Jack through over a dozen missions where you must shoot wave after wave

of baddies and loot their bodies to find the key or pass card to the next room

filled with more of the same. The game even throws in a number of mini games,

like defusing things, picking locks and even weightlifting. They get increasingly

more difficult as the game progresses, but for the most part they’re just filler.

The fighting is where the game is at its best. You can run and gun two-fisted,

use a few cinematic kung-fu moves to disarm an enemy or grab another guy and

use him as a human shield while returning fire. They even threw in all the shoot-dive

jumping maneuvers you remember from Max Payne, although here the moves

are stiffened and don’t flow as naturally.

Many of the attacks and defensive moves can be viewed in slow-motion if your

‘adrenaline meter’ permits. The meter builds over time but can be more quickly

replenished by performing cooler, more intense moves like disarming, taking

a human shield or throwing an opponent. It also makes the game look a lot cooler.

But you’ll rarely use the slow-mo since it’s cheaply implemented and doesn’t

add anything at all to the game. Max Payne raised this bar pretty high,

and Dead to Rights struggles to clear it.

Jack has another mode of combat – fisticuffs. At any time (and often against your behest) you may find yourself unarmed. Jack doesn’t seem to believe in reloading. Instead, he just fires what’s in the clip and then discards the damn thing. This is a little annoying and a disappointment for those who appreciate reload animations. I guess the developers wanted to force you to disarm assailants in order to quickly gain adrenaline and perform the slow-motion moves.

In any event, the hand-to-hand is put together not unlike a true 3D fighting

game. You are offered Virtual Fighter-style control with the ubiquitous

punch, kick and throw trio. This allows for a number of cool combinations. You

can even dodge and break throws. It’s pretty sweet and at times will have you

giggling after a particularly brutal sequence.

But repetitive gameplay is no laughing matter, and Dead to Rights doesn’t

hesitate to throw endless waves of enemies at you. This is cool for nonstop

fighting, but that’s really all you have here. Even the mini-puzzles don’t provide

enough alternate gameplay to really distinguish this from being just another

shooter with cool fighting elements.

all those fighting elements come at a price. The mastery of the control rests
on top of steep learning curve. You can jump on quickly and kill guys, but fully
taking advantage of disarming, human shielding and the like will take time and

Yet unlike the Xbox version, Dead to Rights on the PS2 comes with 3
difficulty settings, none of which are as massively challenging as the one difficulty
option on the Xbox. This makes your first pass much smoother, but less rewarding.

Sadly, things aren’t helped by the camera. You move Jack around the world
with the left analog stick and the camera rotates with the right analog stick.
It doesn’t bother trying to keep up with you. Instead, auto-targeting with R1
is the easiest way for Jack to keep his eyes on the action. But Jack doesn’t
target the closest enemy by a long shot. In fact, you can press R1 and Jack
will aim at a guy yards away while another gunman is shooting him point blank
in the side of the head.

Despite its lengthy development time (it was originally supposed to be a PSOne
game) and original stint on the Xbox, Dead to Rights hits an even rougher
spot in its graphics than its Xbox sibling. Incredibly flat textures with few
colors decorate the game world. True to Namco form, this one’s so arcadey it’s
shocking. There are icons, targeting arrows and beacons all over the place.
I thought I was at Chuck E. Cheese playing some new Virtua Cop game.
It totally kills whatever film noir mood they were going for.

And what often can kill a good action flick has turned up to squeeze some

life out of Dead to Rights – a bad actor. Jack is your garden-variety

know-it-all wise-crackin’ bad-ass, but without all the charisma and cool one-liners

we’ve come to expect. This makes Jack more of an annoyance than someone you

want to help right wrongs.

His dialogue is obviously meant to emulate the traditionally stoic flair of

noir pulp detective stories, but the result is dry and bland. The voice talent

could have used more “talented” actors and actresses, unless 80’s T.V. shows

like Hunter

or even Sledgehammer are what

you’re going for.

Dead to Rights is all over the place. Someone had a good idea and great
reference material, but the end product is repetitive and lackluster. There
are definitely enough exciting action sequences in here to make the game a worthy
rental, but for fifty bucks you’re better off picking up a used copy of Max
for your pulp noir or Devil May Cry
for your stylish action.


Nice story
Cool action...
...over and over again.
Camera/control issues
Uneven graphics
Poor targeting system