Review: "Dead to Rights"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Let's get this straight right off the bat - "Dead to Rights: Retribution" is a touching tale about a boy and his dog, interspersed with gory violence, gunplay and fisticuffs. That sounds like a recipe for fun, right?

Well, Namco's reboot of this series again features a wronged super-cop on the lam after a dark conspiracy drives him to the other side of the law with only his faithful companion Shadow to protect him. Now he's attempting to shed light on a corrupt government.

Jack Slate, the protagonist, is a walking cop cliche. He chews his lines with lead-capped teeth and spits out some of the most hackneyed dialogue you're likely to hear this side of a bad Capcom translation. But even with this against him, there are moments where this anti-hero's so bad it's good.

Unfortunately, while Jack often slips into self-parody, the game itself is an average third-person title that's a little too similar to recent mid-grade games like "The Bourne Conspiracy" and "Splinter Cell."

Much of the game centers around Jack running into buildings and alleys, fists flying and guns blazing, as he's swarmed by street gangs and mercenaries.

Of course, with that kind of action, it would help if the camera system and controls didn't work against you. But the camera is a really big obstacle in "Dead to Rights."

For instance, Jack often finds himself surrounded by thugs, and players should be able to kick or thump to push attackers away; however, seven times out of 10 Jack will inexplicably miss his enemies.

Aside from running around as Jack, you also get to experience life as Shadow, his seemingly feral attack dog. Shadow's levels float between neck-ripping bloodbaths and stealthy assassin-like missions. The canine has the ability to hear foes through walls and around corners, and even Jack can use Shadow's superior senses to detect enemies.

"Dead to Rights" is not a bad game. There is a lot of gory violence that action fans will enjoy for a few hours, but the question will soon arise for most people: Is it worth their time?

The game is almost the definition of average, thanks to the simplistic scenario and poor camera and combat controls. At best, "Dead to Rights" is a rental title, unless you really enjoy endless John Woo-style slow-motion scenes of rib-kicking your foes.

"Dead to Rights: Retribution"

System: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Price: $60

Players: 1

Rated: M for Mature

Who Should Buy it?: Vengeful cops and Michael Vick fans

GameOn! Grade: C