previews\ Oct 22, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Dead to Rights - PC - Preview

Dead to Rights originally hit on the Xbox almost a year and a half ago, and featured some innovative features and non-stop action. The game is finally hitting the PC, almost a year after the game went cross-platform on consoles. Aside from a few token graphical tweaks, Dead to Rights is still pretty much the same game that came out last year. However, it’s still a pretty fun action game with lots of great cinematic elements.


Dead to Rights puts you in the shoes of Jack Slate, a cop on a quest for vengeance after his father was killed. However, things quickly get complicated as he gets framed for a different murder, gets sent to prison, escapes and ends up on the run from the cops as well as tons and tons of gangsters and other hoodlums throughout the city.


Dead to Rights is an action game, and a pretty intense one at that. The preview build had literally hundreds of enemies in each level, all armed to the teeth. The gameplay offers a pretty nice mix of gunplay and hand-to-hand fighting as well as some pretty sweet moves, like the ability to disarm an enemy and immediately use their gun on them or the ability to use an enemy as a human shield. Jack Slate also has a dog buddy, Shadow, who can run in and defeat enemies and take their weapon back to Jack. The use of Shadow is pretty limited as you need to have a special gauge filled in order to use him, but it is pretty useful in tight situations.


The game offers up several innovations that add to the cool factor of the gameplay. One cool element is the “dive” feature, which allows diving through the air, slow down time to a crawl (similar to Max Payne’s bullet-time) and fire away at several enemies at once. This comes in handy when you have many baddies around and need to take them all on at once. The use of explosive canisters is done very well in this game as well. In order to use an explosive canister, you must first pick one up and auto-target an enemy and throw it at them. Time will then slow down, and you’ll have to shoot the canister to explode it in your enemy’s face. It’s a great concept, and looks extremely cool in practice.


The gameplay still falls in the same traps as the console versions, however. The AI is still very predictable, follows patterns and is easily defeated. The camera also tends to be very frustrating, going haywire when the onscreen action gets a little hairy. The mini-games are still a waste of time, being simplistic and cheesy and not really adding anything to the game. Also, the constant fighting and shoot isn’t varied and grows redundant after a while.


Aside from a few tweaks like increased resolutions and slightly cleaner player models, Dead to Rights doesn’t offer many improvements to the graphics of the console version. The characters are well-animated and the environments are clean, but the special effects and textures are sub-par for the PS2, let alone the PC. Overall, the graphical presentation is not as strong as most PC games.


The sound effects are quite good, and add nicely to the cinematic quality of the game. The weapon sounds are varied and realistic, and they sound great both in real time and when the game enters bullet-time. The music is appropriate and sounds like something out of a John Woo film, changing with the intensity of the onscreen action. The voice acting is also very nicely done, with many characters narrating the cutscenes and well as in-game play.


While Dead to Rights is essentially the same game released over a year ago, its still offers up a tasty dish of non-stop action and cinematic storytelling. If the gameplay problems and graphical inadequacies can be fixed up, then PC gamers should find a pretty solid action game when Dead to Rights is released later this year.


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