Dead To Rights: Retribution
Shadow wins. SCROTALITY!
Posted 3 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
Crime in Grant City has increased exponentially, and with most of the police force being bought out by gang lords, there are very few cops willing to take matters into their own hands. Jack Slate is more than willing to clean the streets of Grant City for good, using any means necessary to get the job done. Jack’s motives take a turn though when someone close to him dies during a mission. His will to get rid of the criminals remains, but he’s also after the man behind his father death.
While the first game wasn’t that bad at the time of its release (2002), the Dead to Rights franchise never stood out in my memory as a great one and certainly not after the incredibly boring Dead to Rights II. So when I first heard of a third DtR game being developed, my interest was piqued. I was even more excited when I learned that Namco and developer Volatile Games said that it was going to be a re-envisioning of the original game….but is it really?
As you can see, Jack is mad!
DtR: Retribution does feature interesting gameplay mechanics, but it seems like the developer wanted DtR to be a jack of all trades. Sometimes you are fighting bad guys with your bare hands, other times you are picking up guns and pulling bullet-time moves or sending your trusty dog to attack someone’s crotch. Problem is, execution fails to offer a seamless experience.
If you go with melee, switching between enemies during combat won’t be easy and the issue becomes even more persistent when you get mobbed by five baddies at a time. You can block and counter the enemies’ attacks, but most of the time, Jack is just unresponsive. Funny thing is that it works on a certain level at the beginning of the game, but afterwards, it’s like Jack forgot how to use his fists. Luckily, disarming bad guys works well and sometimes helps you when you’re in deep trouble. You can also use them as meat shields, as a battering ram or as thrown weapons (they can literally fly!) after clinching up with them. It’s been said that if you press the fire button after a disarm move, Jack will do an automatic headshot. Well, that is far from being 100% accurate. It works, but as with the rest of his melee skills, it’s not consistent. Finishing moves can also be pulled off after inflicting a series of well-placed combos. The finisher prompt will appear on screen and with the press of a button, you’ll be treated with one of Jacks’ ultra-violent moves. They’re kind of fun to watch at beginning, but after seeing the same moves for a few hours, it gets tedious at best; especially when the camera has troubles following the action.
As for the shooting segments, when using "Focus" feature, it’s quite deadly. But if you decide to go guns blazing, your chances of a quick death are rather high. The targeting is quite deficient and you’ll have a hard time killing your foes unless you go for the headshot. And sometimes, you will actually run out of ammo. Surprisingly, a nearby enemy will notice that you won’t have a weapon anymore, so he’ll switch to melee mode, giving you a (small) fighting chance to defeat him. But then, after a few seconds, he’ll run away and start shooting at you, as if the whole fair-fight thing is time limited. And another thing, isn’t it frustrating to see a shirtless dude take as much damage as an armored soldier? It’s 2010, I thought we were over that. There is also a cover system that works rather well, even though we’ve seen better implementations elsewhere. Despite this, I found myself using it more often since I can send Shadow to rip someone’s face off while I’m shooting from a distance. Because of all this, the high-octane, brutal and relentless action I was promised suddenly becomes less apparent.
Speaking of Shadow, not only you can tell him what to do, but you can also take control of directly him. Obviously, you won’t get to be Jack’s best friend very often, which is a shame. Although, every time you do get to put your paws to the pavement, you’ll be asked to silently kill enemies and then hide them so as to not alert nearby guards, providing you and Jack can have an almost clear path later on. Yeah, it’s Sam Fisher’s reincarnation as a dog. Too bad the canine missions aren’t playing a bigger role in the game because in my opinion, that is where most of the fun was.
The potential here can be fun and interesting. Although Shadow’s stealth missions were well designed, my biggest gripe was towards the melee and shooting mechanics, which most of the game relies heavily on. I know that it wouldn’t be fair to compare Retribution to what games like Batman Arkham Asylum and Splinter Cell Conviction were able to do, but I can’t help it. Those games have raised the bar, so to speak.
Graphics & Sound
DtR: Retribution isn’t the most beautiful game to look at and it could have received a far better score if it wasn’t for the poor man’s lighting work. It gets so bad in the interior levels that I could have sworn it was done on purpose just to hide the low-end textures and dull environments. Even though it’s far away from winning awards, the overall work done by Volatile Games in the visual department does deserve a small pat in the back considering that there are plenty of games that look worse than this (Ex: Rogue Warrior).
As for the audio, the game offers a mix of great environmental/weapon sounds and an engaging soundtrack. But, the voice-over work is average at best. Having to deal with a script where you play as an angry cop looking for revenge is far from being a concern for me, especially if it’s well laid out. However, after a few hours, you still aren’t sure if you really care about Jack or his quest. For instance, in a game like Max Payne, you’d hope that Max’s tortured soul will gets some rest at the end of the story. This isn’t the case here. A game featuring a character looking for revenge should not feel cheesy after a few hours unless you make a statement right from the beginning that it’s going to be a ridiculous ride with non-sense all written all over it, like 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (one of my guilty pleasures from last year). Maybe if the ultra-violent gameplay was toned down, the voice-over work would have gotten bigger praises from me. Instead, I was more preoccupied with killing everything that moved or sending Shadow to bite someone’s crotch, which typically is a good thing; but only if the game wasn’t trying to make me believe that the violence wasn’t its main purpose.
That guy is going to get it.
If you are looking for a great action game, I wouldn’t recommend spending $60 on Dead to Rights when you can get Just Cause 2, Splinter Cell Conviction or even last year’s Batman: Arkham Asylum. It lasts around 10-12 hours, which is what most games typically offer nowadays. But, Retribution does not offer the same quality, sense of detail and of course, replayability. Surprisingly, premium DLC was announced well before the game was released. Now I’m sorry, but when I’ve been asked to pay for extra content for a game that ends up being average, its probably not the best way to get me interested in giving it another go. When I get half way through a game and I count how many levels I have left before the ending, it’s often an indication that my interest has been gone for a long time.
In the end, I personally think your best bet would be to rent it or plan to pick it up later, once it gets a massive price reduction. At full price, it will hurt your wallet (and conscience) more than anything else.
With a forgettable story, bland characters and a huge sense of déjà-vu, Namco’s re-envisioning of its precious Dead to Rights franchise manages to keep you afloat, but never elevates your level of excitement beyond just treading water.
Don’t get me wrong, Retribution is far from being a mediocre game. But when you decide to remake a game that was decent seven years ago, the words “pushing the boundaries” should be the first thing to come out of my mouth, especially if it’s a reboot. With the number of games released in the genre since the current console cycle started, it definitely feels odd to get this game in 2010, when in all honesty, it would have been better received had it been launched 5 years ago.
And to think, some folks hated on Midway for John Woo’s Stranglehold a few years ago for the same thing...
+ Controlling and playing as Shadow
+ Cover system works well
+ Controls are easy to learn
+ Environmental sounds and soundtrack
- Visuals could be better
- Lighting is horrible
- Lackluster storytelling
- Counter and blocking aren’t that responsive
- Dramatic voice-over does not fit with the over-the-top violence
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Release Date : 2010/04/27
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Namco Bandai
Developer : Volatile Games
Category : Action
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10