Repost: Dead to Rights: Retribution Review

The Dead to Rights franchise hasn’t been the best face for third-person action titles. With the originals on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, the third console entry is a mixture of B-movie excellence and insanely repetitive action on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

A sort of start from scratch, Dead to Rights: Retribution ignores the canon developed by the previous titles and focuses more on ultra-violence and melee happy combat. What Dead to Rights: Retribution delivers on is a somewhat enjoyable experience combined with strange design decisions that derail the title.

The Plot

Jack Slate returns along with his canine Shadow. In the first moments of the title, the majority of the plot is told through flashbacks of the events that Slate and Shadow experienced before meeting present day to complete the third act. Slate is investigating the rampant gang violence that is occurring around Grant City and diving into the source of the rampant destruction of the city.

It’s a pretty simple plot with expected twists, but surrounded by combat.

The Look

Using a semi-realistic visual style, Dead to Rights: Retribution is a bit comic book-esque and action hero cut-and-paste. Slate, himself, is built a bit unrealistically, probably the most unrealistic character in the whole title with a top heavy, muscled look and a waist a model would diet to death for. Shadow looks like a dog, though he is given a lot of expressive traits.

The other characters in the title that participate in the title are more believable. During cutscenes, the animation is among the best that I’ve seen for character expressions. They continue to push the B-movie style and push the reality of the title, even though most of it is unbelievable.

Environments go from gritty city streets to gritty construction yards to gritty yet clean future-tense police installations. Basically the game is abnormally dark. It’s not distracting because the title is linear, so getting lost isn’t a problem.

The Sound

Dead to Rights: Retribution is heavy on voices and gunfire. While there is music added for effect, most of the title has an unexpected amount of voiceovers. Enemies will talk to each other, yell at Slate during combat, and generally move out of the stagnant nameless cannon fodder category.

All the secondary characters are well realized through their voice acting. It was actually surprising that the characters all had specific personalities that is generally overlooked in titles that focus more on combat than story.

Shooting the various weapons will boom through speakers along with the thousands of explosions that the title delivers. Environmental sounds are unexpectedly sharp and the presentation of the audio portion of the game is stellar.

Function

Most of Dead to Rights: Retribution is melee combat. Even though Slate can use many weapons, most of the time, running out of ammunition is the standard of the title. The melee combat system is both deep and superficial because while there are many combinations that can be used against enemies, most of the time the “disarm” action is used to acquire more guns.

Though the takedowns in the title are exceedingly brutal and almost sadistic; there is a pleasure in killing enemies who were annoying. One gameplay aspect that I enjoyed a lot even though it was potentially life threatening was that higher level enemies can also disarm Slate and shoot him just like he does.

Using Shadow during combat has two functions: kill enemies or collect weapons. For the most part, Shadow does his own thing and directing him isn’t necessary. But during the Shadow specific missions which usually are either escort or sneaking; the flaws in the combat are revealed. Slate is all about action and Shadow is stealth. The levels with stealth aren’t as polished as the action levels and create some issues with how the AI interacts during the Shadow missions.

The title focuses on a run-and-gun plus cover system. The cover system is presented well, containing destructible cover for both Slate and enemies. Cover is always necessary because the later levels pour enemies and placing shots is important. Slate also can utilize a focus system which is essentially bullet-time. The meter is recharged through disarms, takedowns, headshots, and basically everything done during combat. Using the focus mode at the right time can drop a swarm of enemies so having a full bar is important.

But even with all the mechanics in place, there is a bit too much repetition to the gameplay of Dead to Rights: Retribution. Don’t expect to do anything else but barrel through levels with Slate killing everything or using Shadow to sneak and find keys or disable electronics.

Decisions

It’s a hard decision with Dead to Rights: Retribution. It does present an enjoyable experience, but does feel a bit long during the third act of the plot. There’s a lot of running involved and Slate is a bullet sponge while Shadow can’t accept much more than a scratch.

The plot is of an action/B-movie style, but the convincing nature of the voice actors makes it believable. Dead to Rights: Retribution isn’t the best title for third person shooting, but it does present more than the average title in the genre. The extra DLC for the title adds extras like a movie-explosion mode along with a black-and-white version of the title and heightened sneaking for Shadow.

I think Dead to Rights: Retribution is fun, but I’m torn if it’s great.

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

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