It’s been a while since we have heard of the Dead to Rights series. Four years in fact. Well, Jack Slate and his dog Shadow are back at it again in a re-imagining of the series from Volatile Games. In theory, it is a run of the mill third person action shooter, and little else. However, it is also a throwback to this kind of game from the good old days. It is a decent game that stands up with some others of this genre, but still has its fair share of problems.
You play as Jack Slate, a renegade cop who has just got back into Grant City after what seems like one heck of a bad day. You begin by tumbling out of a boat, bleeding and nearly dead. Some gang members stroll up to you, and you defend Jack as his dog, Shadow. Eventually, you get Jack to safety, but then tragedy strikes. Jack’s father is killed by some gang members, and Jack goes on a rampage to take them out. The story overall is very mediocre. It’s not interesting in many respects at all, and is not the main draw that will keep you progressing. However, the story can be laughable at times, where instead of just arresting all of the criminals, you go around killing everything that moves. Jack, I know you are upset by your dad being killed, but is this the way to do it?
The game play is also pretty standard and by the book. You pick up guns, you shoot people, and headshots help you fill a meter that will allow you to slow down time to deal the pain with precision. The ammo runs out quickly however, and you constantly have to rush around to collect more. There is a cover system, but it’s not until you get to the later levels when it is really warranted. The cover mechanic doesn’t work well either, and doesn’t feel very fluid. The wildcard in the game play is the melee combat. You can pull off some pretty intense combos to bring the fight to the bad guys. If you deal enough damage, you will be prompted with a button press to commence a finishing move.
These are unbreakable animations that are instant kills, and are severely brutal and satisfying. The other wildcard here are the levels where you play as Shadow. These are fairly well crafted stealth levels, where you hide in the shadows, lure a gang member over with a low bark, and then do a ridiculously brutal, over the top silent kill. These levels are short, but are well placed to break up the game play. Overall the game play does feel good, and controls well, but is very standard as I have said. It is the best part of the game in my opinion, and it is worth it just to see what kind of insane moves and kills that Jack and Shadow can pull off.
Another really well done aspect of the game are the environments. I was very impressed in the level of detail in each one, and the art direction is very good. The graphics overall are not bad, with some textures being bland here and there. The enemy character models are also very, very outrageous. You will sometimes laugh at just how ridiculous they really are. I also didn’t really encounter much slowdown, and there can be a lot going on sometimes, so they did a good job counteracting it. The voice acting is laughingly bad, and Jack’s dialogue in particular is loud and obnoxious, but it fits his character well. The presentation overall is hit and miss, but does add a semi-unique feel to the game with the nature of the environments.
Retribution does have a big downfall, and that is once you get to about the halfway point of the game, it becomes very difficult for you to want to press on. This is due to the fact that everything is very methodical. You shoot some guys, can’t unlock a door, have Shadow sneak to get a key, and shoot some more; rinse, repeat. They also made the campaign way to long, with it clocking in at around ten to twelve hours, and I think this also plays into the fact that the game get tedious. Games like these need to be six to eight hours long, which I feel is the sweet spot for a third person action game. With this big flaw in the game, it can be very hard to recommend it.
Overall, Dead to Rights: Retribution is a not a game that I would purchase. It is one of those games you can pick up at your local rental place, play for a couple days and completely forget about. It can be fun at times, but can be tedious and frustrating at others. It came out under the radar, and that is how its days on the shelf will be spent. With all the big releases this year of games in the same genre, it will be completely overlooked and forgotten. It’s too bad though, as the adventures of Jack Slate and his dog Shadow showed promise back on the PS2 and Xbox, but this is a new generation, and gamers want something better.
Review copy provided by publisher.