previews\ May 22, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Dead to Rights: Reckoning - PSP - Preview

Having almost as much power as PlayStation 2, PSP was in danger of becoming a PS2 port machine. That hasn't been the case since Sony pushes for original or updated content like Daxter, Grand Theft Auto and the new SOCOM.

Namco is working on a lot of games for PSP, and their next big title will be another version of (but not a direct sequel to) Dead to Rights. Featuring some of the sharpest polygons seen on the platform, Dead to Rights: Reckoning stars Jack Slate, the slow-mo man who fights like Neo. (Neo from the Wachowski Brothers hit, The Matrix. Is it really that easy to forget?)

Right now we aren't seeing anything that's vastly different from the previous games in the series. The story is set in Grant City. Shadow, Jack's four-legged pal, is itching for a bite. There's a plethora of perpetrators for him to sink his teeth into, though it's more fun to pump them full of lead. Besides, criminals carry disease. We wouldn't want to burden a canine with something that slimy humans contracted.

Those who have played the Xbox or PS2 versions already know what to expect from the gameplay. Its controls are the same wherever possible. The triangle button triggers the bullet time effect. The camera/crosshairs can be adjusted to set up the perfect shot, allowing you to knock off enemies before they have the chance to return fire. I had reservations about the mini-games from the first Dead to Rights, but when you're diving through the air in slow-motion, there isn't anything comparable to the experience. Enter The Matrix comes the closest, and we know how it turned out.

Reckoning's graphics are clean and crisp, which is ironic considering how dirty the enemies are. Jaggies seem to be becoming a thing of the past now that developers have been working with the PSP hardware for over a year. The characters look good, as do the indoor stages and outdoor city streets. Textures are smooth; bodies are solid; buildings are defined with layers of detail. Not every object is treated with perfect light and shadow effects, but the developers still have a few months to improve those things before the game is released (it's due this summer).

Namco says the game has an advanced camera system that takes full advantage of the PSP’s wide screen. I can’t say that I was blown away by Reckoning’s camera or its use of greater visibility (theoretically the PSP should allow the player to see more than they would if they were playing a game on a square TV screen). But the fact that I didn’t think much about it proves the camera is doing its job. If it stays in place at all times and moves only when necessary, I’ll be happy.

At least one multiplayer mode (deathmatch) will be ready when the game ships, taking advantage of the PSP's Wi-Fi capabilities. Ad Hoc (offline multiplayer) is guaranteed, and if we're lucky the infrastructure (online multiplayer) will also be in place. That way you'll have someone to shoot even when your friends aren't within the vicinity. The list of playable characters is unknown, but I'm sure there will be more than multi-colored versions of Jack Slate. Maybe Shadow will be incorporated.

Dead to Rights: Reckoning is going to be a hot title when it comes to PSP. I’m impressed with what I played and have no doubts that Namco can make this a wonderful game. Keep it free of mini-games and it'll be great.


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