Dead to Rights
Written by John Yan
on 11/27/2002 for
Ever since I saw some videos of Dead to Rights I was anxious to get my hands on it. From what I saw, it looked like a pretty intense third person action game with gritty violence and great graphics. Now that I got to playing it, I have to say I am not really impressed with the game but it does offer some good aspects but the camera system needs a ton of work.
You play Jack Slate, a cop framed for murder. Your father’s been murdered and you have to go through a plethora of bad guys to find out just what really happened and clear your name. Like every John Woo movie, a number of bad guys equaling a population of a small third world country come guns blazing at you in trying to take you down. Using a variety of hand-to-hand combat and action style gun toting moves, you make your way through fifteen chapters to finally uncover the truth.
When playing Dead to Rights, I was reminded a lot of Max Payne. For starters, it’s a third person action game where the hero can perform various slow motion moves. Like Max Payne, you have an adrenaline bar that depletes as you use your slow motion dives to take out the enemy. Whereas in Max Payne you had to kill enemies to replenish the bar, in Dead to Rights it automatically regenerates slowly. The bar also doubles as a block bar so when you block hits from opponents, it also slowly depletes. The bullet time moves encompass a few dives in various directions but one of my main problems was having Jack dive the right way. Because the camera system didn’t stay behind Jack all the time and the action can get really heated, you can easily initiate a dive in a direction that you didn’t want to because of the way you were pushing the analog stick and the direction the camera swung to. In Max Payne it was pretty easy to dive to the left and right of enemies but in Dead to Rights the camera positioning made it a lot tougher.
Like Tomb Raider, Dead to Rights features an auto-aim for easier killing. To lock onto an enemy target you hold down the right trigger. A colored crosshair will form around the target with red being in close range, yellow being an ok shot, and green telling you not to waste your ammo. When in bullet time, you can easily take out multiple targets as cycling through various enemies is a lot easier when all the action is slowed down.
Various guns in the game allow for Jack some great toys to kill enemies with. From single and dual handguns to shotguns to flamethrowers, the weapons in Dead to Rights are fun to use. The ammo you carry is limited so you have to make sure your bullets count. If you do run out of ammo, you can engage in hand-to-hand combat. By going up to an enemy, you can perform a disarming move whereby you can do some fancy karate move knocking the guy out and taking his gun as part of one disarming animation. You can also slow it down to see the action really well. Once taken out, you pick up the gun that that enemy is using. Namco has also allowed you to view new disarm animations the more you use them. This is one way that makes you play the game through again as you might not get all the disarm animations through one sitting. Say you do have a gun though and grab an enemy. You can use him as a human shield or do away with by putting a bullet in the temple. It’s really cool to be able to utilize enemies for the sake of protecting your own skin and Dead to Rights does a good job in giving you this ability. While you do have some armor and can pick up more, grabbing a bad guy and forcing him to take his buddies bullets is pretty satisfying to say the least.
Besides guns, you also have a dog-named Shadow that tags along with you in some missions. He cannot only attack enemies for you but some times he’ll be used to solve some puzzles in places you can’t reach. One of the first ones is where Jack is stuck and needs Shadow to go through some tubes to reach this one area where Shadow can nudge a large barrel that opens up another area. On the offensive side, using Shadow is an automatic kill and weapon retrieval. He can be abused as the only prerequisite to using Shadow is waiting for the indicator bar to fill up over time.
Dead to Rights isn’t just about guns and fisticuffs. It also features various mini games that give you a break from all the fighting. They range from fun to rather tedious and boring. One of the ones that I didn’t really care for was the Dance Dance Revolution like stripper mini game. In that one, you are presented with a sequence of button presses and you have to press them at the right time to entice the bodyguards that stand in Jack’s way. You have to complete the random sequence three times and you’re treated to a very plain looking stripper that’s not modeled really well. Some of the mini games are kind of fun and it’s a nice break from the action every once in a while.
The main problem though with Dead to Rights is the bad camera control that can get you killed in an instant. Since the camera swings around and doesn’t stay locked behind you, you can get into some very tough predicaments when multiple bad guys are surrounding you and you try to move around and get a lock. I’ve had a few instances where I was trying to flee a group of men only to have the camera swing around at odd angles and a person with a shotgun right off the screen take me out because of the confusing camera movement. It happens too often that an already hard game is made unnecessary difficulty by the bad camera control. Yes, you can use the right analog stick to swing the camera around but it’s not quick enough. Bad camera implementation can really hinder a good game and this is one example where it makes for unnecessary frustration.
Dead to Rights is an above average Xbox game that is marred by bad camera implementations. It has its moments with some good action and some good weapons. As a third person action game, Dead to Rights exceeds in some areas and falls shorts in other. It’s very difficult and can be frustration at times.
The camera system can really be frustrating and some of the mini games are awful. You do get some really cool disarming animations and some of the action is pretty fun.
Rating: 7.5 Above Average
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. After writing for a few different sites that went under, it's nice to bring back a site that's not dependent on revenue and just wants to deliver news and reviews of products.
I'm married, and enjoy first person shooters, sports games, and real time strategy games.