When the PSP was released back in
March it seemed as if the number of games released at launch would have been
enough to keep PSP owners happy. Alas, this wasn’t the case when the groans of
PSP owners around the United States were heard wondering “What’s next?” It seems
owners of the PSP wanted another “big” title for their widescreen black &
beautiful portable system. One game that was on same gamers’ radar was a PSP
version of Dead to Rights. Well the wait is over but the wait for the next “big”
title continues because Dead to Rights: Reckoning doesn’t meet the requirements.
Dead to Rights revolves around a
renegade cop named Jack Slate and his dog Shadow. As in typical videogame
fashion, the life of Jack Slate isn’t as easy as getting up in the morning,
going to work and coming home to play games. Jack receives a strange note that a
young girl will be killed unless Jack shows up at a bar. Jack has no clues to
work from and is left to rescue the girl just as any movie star/videogame
character would: guns drawn and hell bent to take out anyone in his way. Sure
the premise is a tired cliché that has been done before but the draw of the Dead
to Rights series hasn’t been the story but the action.
The previous two games have tried to
play out like a Hong Kong-style action movie with spectacular effects,
incredible moves and non-stop action. The PSP version doesn’t change the formula
that has made the series so popular. This is probably one of the PSP’s most
intense action games available. When controlling Jack your primary goal is to
make your way through a level by shooting anyone that gets in your way. It’s a
relentless amount of enemies that are coming after you at times during the game.
Instead of just shooting people you can also have your dog Shadow attack an
enemy as well. Once Shadow attacks the game switches to a slow motion view that
shows Shadow lunging after the bad guy with blood splattering everywhere. The
slow motion effect isn’t just for Shadow as fans of the series are aware.
The slow motion becomes a large part
of the game by allowing you to take out a bad guy with some spectacular moves,
all in slow motion. Jack can jump in the air and shoot at a bad guy in slow
motion and switch to different bad guys while still in the air. If you want you
can even forego the guns and take out the bad guys with hand-to-hand combat. You
can either attack a bad guy with a basic melee attack or perform the special
disarm move. The disarm move performs a slow-motion attack automatically that
results in another brutal and bloody death for the bad guy. All of the slow
motion attacks look great and give the game a nice cinematic feel but can be
boring after a while. The repetitive nature of the game is a letdown that makes
the game falter when it should have shined.
Every level in the game plays out
exactly the same. The beginning of the game has Jack explaining what’s happening
with a short cutscene (no voice acting just text) as he enters a new area/level.
Once the level starts you need to take out all of the bad guys and make your way
to the boss. The boss battles aren’t even challenging in figuring out a pattern
or clues in how to beat the boss. The boss comes out, fires a few shots at you
and then runs off. Some more bad guys show up, you take them out and then the
boss shows up again. But he doesn’t stay for long, he fires a few more shots and
then runs off again. Repeat this a few times until the boss finally comes out to
fight you without running off. No amount of slow motion gun fire or special
attacks can make up for the repetitive gameplay. Sure, it’s fun but it just gets
old after the first couple of levels. Unfortunately the problems are just with
the repetitive gameplay, the camera angle is downright aggravating.
Dead to Rights: Reckoning suffers
from the same situation that other PSP games are fallen victim to, the lack of
the second analog stick (or nub). The camera angle in the PSP version of Dead to
Rights is presented in a third-person perspective, just like the home console
versions. The game will shift the camera around as you move but since the PSP
lacks the second analog stick the camera can sometimes lag behind for a few
seconds. Those precious seconds can cost you quickly since the enemies in the
game will unload on you right away. If you can’t see an enemy and you die
because the enemy was standing next to you then it’s not a fun experience. There
is a work-around to help with the camera angle and it involves the
The target lock is done by pressing
the right button and Jack will lock onto the nearest enemy. But when the room is
filled with bad guys the target lock can be troublesome since the computer will
sometimes lock on to the wrong enemy. The target lock system makes it extremely
difficult to change the camera angle since you can look around by holding down
the right button. This becomes a big problem since you might want to change the
camera to target another enemy but you can’t change the camera because the game
locks onto the wrong enemy. I ran into several moments where I was moving
through a level and had a bad guy attacking me from behind. I couldn’t get the
camera changed fast enough because when I would try to move the camera the
target lock would kick in again but still not on the enemy that was attacking me
from behind. You get used to this after a couple of levels but it’s still not a
conducive condition for a happy gameplay experience.
The graphics in the game are the
same style and look from the console versions. Jack resembles his Dead to Right
II version instead of the first game. The animation of Jack and Shadow is well
done regardless if the action is hot and heavy or in slow motion. The staged
graphics look good with the game having a almost PS2 quality to the levels. The
textures of the levels can be a little bland at times but it’s not a big
distraction. The detail of the bad guys isn’t up to par with Jack with almost
all of the characters on a level looking exactly the same. One item that shows
up well was the amount of blood. This a mature-rated game and it shows with the
amount of blood emitting from the enemies. The animation of the special attacks
is particularly gruesome at times. Even though this is a portable game this is
one that watchful parents will want to keep an eye on (at least until Grand
Theft Auto comes out on PSP).
Dead to Rights: Reckoning is a
decent title that is sure to keep PSP owners happy for a little while. This
isn’t the game that will keep the PSP in your hands for a extended period of
time. But if you’re in need for a PSP game fix then the relentless action,
special attacks and good graphics might be enough. However the camera angle and
repetitive nature of the gameplay keeps this game from being a must-own title
for all PSP owners. Even though the console versions of the Dead to Rights have
never had the highest ratings that has never stopped gamers from buying the
games. If you’re a fan of the series then this is the game for you.
Review Scoring Details for Dead to Rights: Reckoning
Having a auto-target system on the same button as the camera control isn’t a
great idea. But the game will still swing the camera around to often unplayable
positions that have you eating bullets like you’re at a buffet. Since every
stage plays out exactly the same you will probably get bored after only a couple
of levels. The special attacks are interesting and at times cool, but after a
few times they get old.
If it wasn’t for the crappy camera angle then you could add another point on for
the graphics. This might not be the best-looking PSP game (drool…..Lumines)
but it’s still looks like a PS2 game on a portable system. Granted it looks like
an early PS2 game with some of the bland textures and all of the bad guys
looking exactly the same during an entire level.
The music in the game is almost non-existent and it lacks any personality that
will keep you listening. Most of the “noise” made in the game is from gun fire
and explosions from blowing up items scattered throughout the levels. The gun
sounds great but where’s the voice acting for the story?
The game isn’t very challenging and really isn’t that long either. Most gamers
will probably breeze through the game in a few days. The biggest challenge in
the game is staying calm while the camera plays tricks with you.
It’s a Hong Kong-style video game. It’s been done before and it’s been done
better than this game. The storyline isn’t the best either but fits in with the
style of the game. Honestly, how many people watch a Kung Fu movie for the plot?
It’s the action that keeps the moving going. The action in Reckoning keeps the
game going but will probably lose the interests of most gamers after only a few
The game does offer wireless multiplayer but only in the Ad Hoc mode. The Ad Hoc
mode means you can play wireless with other PSP owners that are nearby. Why
couldn’t we have the Infrastructure mode included that offers true wireless
gaming? There are only two wireless modes, Death Match and Last Man Standing.
You do unlock additional characters/skins for the multiplayer game as you
complete levels in the single player game.
As you probably know at this point that this isn’t the best PSP game available.
But if you want an action game with some decent graphics, intense action and
some cool moves then give the game a try. Fans of the previous two games will
probably overlook the shortcomings of the game. It seems that’s happened with
several of you out there and you know what, that’s fine. This review is only one
person’s opinion and gamers have the right to make their own opinions and should
always take our reviews with a grain of salt. Remember my motto: Games are
supposed to be fun. If you enjoy blowing stuff up and pretending to be in Hong
Kong-style action movie then Dead to Rights: Reckoning is your game.