Dead to Rights: Retribution review
Part Steven Segal and part wannabe Max Payne, Jack Slate stars in another Dead to Rights title by Namco Bandai; and this time it’s developed by Volatile Games, the developers of 2006’s Reservoir Dogs. It’s been eight years since the original and time hasn’t done the series any favors as Dead to Rights: Retribution is a mockery of the genre.
What could’ve turned out to be an excellent spoof of hardboiled cops and the action genre in fact is a travesty of all proportions. The odd thing is that it’s hard to look away as DTR: Retribution did a fantastic job at having moments that spur laughter but for all the wrong reasons. Anyone with more than half a brain will find that DTR: Retribution causes them to shake their head in disbelief.
As a reimagining of the original, DTR: Retribution does a fine job with mixing up the gameplay throughout the first half of the title with third-person gunplay, melee combat, and stealth through the control of Shadow, the dog of Slate’s father that he inherits after a clichéd death in the family. Even when all varieties of the action are running full steam, the game still is full of conventional traps that terrible games fall prey to.
First off, the camera often causes issues when gunning down nameless enemies who are dumber than a bag of hammers, while all the while having perfect precision and aim. The melee combat is a combination of borrowed mechanics from THQ’s The Punisher (quick kills), Rockstar’s Max Payne (slow motion) and almost any other title within the genre. And as for the stealth, it’s even more outrageous as Shadow creeps around the levels tearing at the throats of enemies to retrieve a key or item for Slate. Funny thing is, Slate could easily fit through the same hole in the fence Shadow often has to squeeze through, but Slate, as motivated as he is to find out the truth, chooses not to.
The story is hilariously bad that it complements the disastrous gameplay. One moment, Slate is sharing insightful thoughts with his father about work and the police force, the other he is out for vengeance on the thug who shot down his father. His motivation isn’t to be questioned, but when he starts digging deeper, Slate discovers a world of corruption and a soon to be hostile government takeover that is akin to a totalitarian society ran by a rogue military faction. Not the most original plot, but it makes for superb humor that can be tossed around the water cooler.
Even if it was meant to be considered a spoof, the underlying problem with DTR: Retribution is that it stutters and spins out of control in the graphical department. Too often were there times that more than five enemies would fill up the screen firing shots and the frame rate would slow down and run frame-by-frame as if it was a slideshow presentation. When the action should be kicking it up a notch, the game instead hits the brakes and comes to almost a complete stop.
The game engine itself is outdated and doesn’t present itself as a modern third-person shooter. The enemies come in waves and they all look the same over time. This repetitiveness harms the overall value that is build around the hilarity of watching Slate hulk up and show his anger when he finds out more truths about the ongoing disturbance within the police force and government. The takedowns are an extension of how ludicrous the title is with over-the-top kills that have Slate cranking the enemies’ neck, soccer-kicking them to the face, and snapping body joints in effort to disarm them. While they may be fun to execute at the start of the title, they run their course midway through and are best avoided to hurry to the next cutscene to watch Slate give his best John McClane (Die Hard) impersonation.
If you aren’t playing Dead to Rights: Retribution for its silly good old-fashioned crime story arc, you are playing it for the wrong reasons. It may be a farce, but Dead to Rights: Retribution is the equivalent of a straight-to-DVD Dolph Lundgren or Jean-Claude Van Damme film.