Thankfully the hand-to-hand combat is more interesting. The game gives you two different attack buttons, which you can use to string together lengthy combos. There's also a block button, as well as button combinations that allow you to grab your enemies, hold them as hostages, or throw them off a ledge. On top of these attacks, you will also have a chance to finish them off in extremely graphic style. As your enemy starts to lose the fight, a picture will pop up prompting you to execute the bad guy. This will trigger a lengthy fatality that will usually result in you kicking them up in the air and filling the guy with bullets. Think of them as slightly more acceptable versions of the Manhunt finishing moves. The problem is that there aren't that many fatalities and they last far too long. I found myself wishing I could skip past these clips, yet they go on and on and on. They may seem cool at first, but I assure you that by the end of the game you will loathe this addition.
That's kind of the problem I have with everything in Dead to Rights: Redemption. The game starts out promising enough, but by the time the credits roll I found myself hating even the things I used to like. Early in the game I didn't have a problem with the loose controls and inaccurate weapon aiming, yet by the end of the game I couldn't stand these things. I didn't mind the terrible acting and overly dramatic atmosphere, but I quickly grew sick of the hammy over-acting and the rain. The game has this weird extreme intensity that is perfectly geared for a 15 year old boy. Yet why would that 15 year old bother with this game when there are dozens of better looking and playing games on the market? The game's relentless bad attitude ultimately turned me off of this promising action game.
Beyond the generic action game premise and over-the-top violence, I had a real problem with the inconsistent graphics. Not to be too blunt, but Dead to Rights: Retribution isn't a very good looking game. A lot of the time it feels like the developers (the same people who turned Reservoir Dogs from one of the greatest crime movies of all time to one of the PlayStation 2's most mediocre action games) masked the game's imperfections under a blanket of night. The character models are downright cheesy, the level designs are uninspired and there's a constant string of animation and clipping problems. The poor visuals aren't the main reason this game disappoints, but it certainly doesn't help matters.
At the end of the game I was left wondering why Namco didn't go the extra step and try to reboot this franchise. There's nothing about this game that we didn't see the first three times. Instead of giving us the high-intensity action game we've come to expect in a world of Modern Warfare and Bad Company, Dead to Rights: Retribution plays it safe and delivers a slightly updated version of what we've seen before. With so many bigger, better action games on the market, it's hard to recommend a game like this. Not even the dog can help Dead to Rights feel relevant in 2010.
Dead to Rights: Retribution doesn't try to reinvent the wheel; instead it's perfectly fine wallowing in the franchise's past successes. With disappointing visuals, a lame story and an endlessly dreary backdrop, there's very little to like about this fourth Dead to Rights game. If Namco doesn't reboot this franchise soon Jack and his dog Shadow may become completely irrelevant. Perhaps we're already too late!
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