In a world of generic HD shooters with flat storylines and gruff one-line spouting protagonists, Dead To Rights: Retribution tries to set itself apart by introducing a canine partner and mixing in classic beat ‘um up gameplay. Does it hold it’s own in the heavily overcrowded action, shooter market on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3?
The game starts off slow- real slow. The first few hours are pitifully easy. Easy and cheesy. Mind-numbingly unchallenging enemies and locales are rampant in the early hours of the game. You know what else is? Gruff, generic, cool-hardened guy one-liners. The story progresses pretty much solely on the shoulders of Officer Jack and his constant stream of clichéd comments, declarations, and threats.
Surrounded by dirty cops, predictable enemies, a tragic setting, and lots of repetitive gameplay- Dead To Rights: Retribution seems destined for the bargain bin in a few months. You’ll find an unimpressive plot with twists and turns you can see coming from a mile away- very much B-movie quality. You’ll also find pretty much the same handful of gameplay elements everywhere else with little to no innovation. The one thing it does differently from most action games of these days is the greater emphasis on hand-to-hand combat.
You could also argue the dog’s gameplay sequences are an innovation, but Shadow’s spotlight time amounts to little more than a diversion. It doesn’t exactly come across as gimmicky- just not exactly the AAA material the developers might have expected it to be. The stealth gameplay with Shadow can be frustrating at times, grinding progression to a halt. It really depends on how much you like playing as a canine and stealth, escort, and seek & destroy gameplay.
As usual, the game’s graphics are the clear devourer of the budget. The game can be beaten in about seven hours- more if you take your time or find the later missions too difficult. The animations, human and canine, are all fairly detailed and impressive. You’ll probably find Jack’s melee techniques to be pretty impressive- which makes pulling them off pretty satisfying.
Unfortunately the world itself didn’t get the same attention. The graphical achievements are only in animations and attacks- the game world itself looks downright pathetic. The developers didn’t seem to know that there are colors other than grey, black, and dirt out there.
Most environments are disorienting and dark- with most NPCs lacking the quality of Jack’s movements and character model. Jack himself is also flawed- his non-combat movements come across as awkward. The final problem with the game, besides it’s overall generic traits, is the weaponry and their implementation. Often you’ll just score endless headshots instead of attacking hand-to-hand, unless you happen to run out bullets. However, during boss battles, your best weapons disappear entirely- solely to make things for difficult. Which begs the question… is Jack throwing away his sniper rifle just to tempt fate while taking on bosses?