STAFF REVIEW of Dead to Rights (Xbox)

Monday, September 9, 2002.

Dead to Rights Box art Dead to Rights is a superb game in all respects. It delivers non-stop action that meets the likes of Halo, yet it is exceptionally different. To understand Dead to Rights, you need to know a little about the story, well?in fact, you ARE the story. Basically, the game follows a simple ?revenge? beginning where you seek revenge for the death of your father. Dead to Rights promises a unique action game with a twist. The twist is that unlike many games, Dead to Rights really makes you become Jack Slate and games like this let you get engaged in the story on a deeper level. Did I mention one ?mini-game? involved key timing in button presses in order for a stripper to do her moves better? I?m sure there is no need for strippers, but it adds a little excitement and after seeing that you don't want to stop. This is a enormously enjoyable game, and the story really helps to make the game incredibly addicting. You will find it just impossible to stop, even to eat or go to the bathroom. I don?t want to give too much away, but the story is not what you will think in the beginning. Notice how before I said it followed a simple revenge beginning? Well just for the record Dead to Rights actually had a well thought out 100+ page script, so it isn?t just about killing people because they hurt your feelings and killed your father. I have already mentioned the addictive nature of Dead to rights, but what makes it this way? The fact that unmatched strategy is involved that has never before seen in a game. Read more about that in Gameplay below.

You simply can not Max Payne up a room of enemies. In Dead to Rights you will die miserably, unlike in other shoot em all up games, you will need to effectively take a hostage in order to use him as cover. There will also be numerous times when you will need to disarm enemies because ammo is not a plentiful, never-ending resource. One odd thing is that in an effort to be realistic, you can only carry 1 or so rounds for each gun (which can be devastation for guns with an 8 shot magazine), yet you can lug around a whole bunch of different weapons. But still, in this game it is not just possible, it is a fact you will have to repeat some levels 10 times or more when you try to perfect your strategy. You might just not have enough health in the end, so you realize it might be wise to take a hostage for body armor protection and that maybe where there are 4 enemies you can do a Matrix style dive and blast them all away or blow up a canister in their face. The possibilities are limitless, but you have to be sensible and use whatever you have sparingly. There will also be times when your only option is hand to hand combat. This really adds a whole new level to the game, because it can not be defined as a FPS anymore. Dead to Rights is a one of a kind action/strategy game with some really nice fighting elements and combos, and not just a cheap melee attack (Sorry Halo God). In fact, if you only saw one fighting section you could mistake the whole game as a fighting game. Another one of the nicer elements in Dead to Rights is your K9 companion, Shadow. He is really useful if you are out of ammo, because he will kill an enemy for you, and retrieve his gun which can help you kill other enemies. Due to the amazing gameplay, Dead to Rights delivers as a top-notch game for whatever category you want to classify it as.

The game keenly plays out the first level in a tutorial state, which can certainly help even the best FPS action star, due to the odd controls that you might not be used to, especially if you have been playing Halo or a like FPS. Dead to Rights utilizes the A button as ?fire? which will take some time getting used to, as well as using the Right Trigger for the auto target command. Once you start getting 20 enemies in front of your face you will soon find out how annoying the right trigger is to use, mainly because it is slow to respond and change?plus you can?t concentrate on that, running for cover and looking at your surroundings and who you need to kill next. Luckily for us, the right analog stick can be used to move to the next target in the direction of your choosing. The only downside to this would be if you use your thumb to switch and then you have to get it back to the fire button, which will inflict some damage to you. The controls are good when you get used to them, but the awkward switching you need to do is odd if you are not used to games like Dead to Rights, which is a new breed.

Ok. Here?s where I was left dumbfounded. Without a doubt the opening cinematic of Dead to Rights are just too superior that all the adjectives in the world to describe them would not ever be enough to justify my amazement. Immediately after viewing these, I felt like I was Jack Slate. It puts you right into the action and you will become enormously eager to play. The graphics of the game look a tad bit dated, but the game just was a victim to today?s world. The game has been in development for a long time, but I feel a few little touch-ups wouldn?t have hurt, especially on Jack. The environments and buildings and other elements are still nicely done, but just because we are living in the Xbox world we all expect groundbreaking graphics, which Dead to Rights does not deliver. However, if you can look past a few graphics shortcomings and see the inner beauty then you are in for a very nice treat. This is one of those games where you know people might dis it purely on looking at a few screenshots and not actually get into it, which would make me feel sad for them because those people are just ignorant and are missing the finer things in life, oh yeah it?s a good game. Visuals are more than just if the graphics are pretty or not, if the game actually looks like the movements could be real then it deserves a lot of respect. Namco hired the Smashcut action Team. Who are they? Does The Matrix, Fight Club or Batman Forever ring a bell? Smashcut helped with motion capture technology to make the stunts and fighting in the game realistic, and the fighting is really something special. Namco game actually hired the real stunt doubles for Keanu Reeves (The Matrix) and Brad Pitt (Fight Club) to help Dead to Rights have realistic movements and visuals. This is one game where you could mistake all the people working on it as if they were making a movie.

Dolby Digital if great for me, but I had no idea so much work could go into sound. Usually sound is added last and just thrown in with a few sound effects that repeat over and over and a basic theme song which always replays. Fast Forward to Dead to Rights and GHD Digital. GHD Digital has done work for such prestigious companies such as ABC, Disney, Miramar, Showtime and even Nickelodeon. Now if that wasn?t enough, Dead to Rights is also backed with the power of Weddington Productions. They have had SEVEN academy award nominations and won 2 of them. The movies were greats such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Robocop, Aladdin and The Fifth Element. So far I have covered the effects, but what about the theme and musical score? Kevin Manthei is the man! He has composed scores for Resident Evil, Scary Movie 2 and maneatingcow-XBA?s favorite show, Invader Zim! Namco really went all out in the sound department, and it really shows when you can hear bullets zoom past you and just the rich environments in Grant City. Sound is a wonderful sense that makes you feel like you are even more Jack Slate.

If possible try to rework the controls. It would be easier for new players to get into DTR2 if the controls were like other FPS games...but then again DTS2 will also be uniqie so it might be impossible to do this. Other than that make us very impressed with the graphics and don't downgrade any of the quality and the game should be a winner!

Overall: 10.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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