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September 29, 2003
Dead To Rights - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
15/8/2003EA GamesNamco1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Shadow, identical to my sisters dog!
It's been a long time coming, a very long time in fact, due to the XBox exclusivity for several months, and then a very lengthy conversion to the PAL market. But Dead To Rights is finally here and Namco's ultra violent game deserves some attention from action fans.

You play the role of Jack Slate. At the beginning of the game Jack's father is murdered in cold blood. Not only is he murdered, but Jack is then framed for a revenge killing. Facing execution, Jack makes a daring escape and seeks revenge on those who killed his father and set him up. What he discovers sends him on a downward spiral into a labyrinth of corruption, betrayal and crime.

Namco have developed a very action orientated game in Dead to Rights. With a wide range of weapons on offer including pistols, machine guns, shotguns and explosive items including canisters which can be thrown at enemies and then shot to explode, there is certainly plenty of hardware on offer. Targeting the enemies is done by pressing the R1 button while cycling through the enemies is done by continually pressing the R1 button, although this makes it hard to target a certain person in front of you. While the game is played in the 3rd person perspective it is possible to switch to first person while targeting. One very cool (and almost compulsory these days) feature in the game is the ability to slow down time by holding the jump (triangle) button. This slows down time and allows you to take out several enemies in a matter of seconds.

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Taking a hostage.
Easily one of the coolest abilities in the game is to take the opposition hostage and use them as human shields. Of course they can only take so many hits before they become useless. If, however, you don't have any guns then instead of taking them as shields Jack will perform a disarm move on them before putting a bullet through their head. These 20 or so animations are simply stunning and a joy to watch. It almost makes you want to run out of ammo.

The inclusion of a dog, Shadow, is an interesting concept that works fairly well. (Incidentally my sister has a Siberian Husky called Shadow which looks identical to this dog - wierd!) During the game, and when you have an enemy targeted at close proximity you can send out shadow to attack the enemy and retrieve their weapon for you. An excellent option for those numerous times when you run out of guns and ammo.

There have been some changes from the XBox version of the game, the most obvious being that the game is a lot easier, perhaps too easy. The game includes multiple difficulty levels so seasoned gamers may wish to crank it up a bit from the start. The mini-games are now also optional unlike the XBox game where you had to complete every mini-game. Some of these mini-games such as controlling the pole dancer in the first matter of minutes are quite enjoyable, others such as the gym speedball are not. Finally disarming the enemies is now accessed a lot quicker then in the XBox version where each disarm had to be performed several times before learning the next one. Finally the controls have been improved from the XBox game. All-in-all the improvements to the PS2 version are more then welcome.

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Fighting in the club.
One obvious disappointment with the title is the hand-to-hand combat. It is simplistic at best and really does become tiresome. Surely with Namco's impressive beat 'em up heritage they could have done something a little more impressive. It's not that much better then the old Double Dragon or Streets of Rage games from a decade ago.

Graphically, Dead To Rights is a massive disappointment. The intro certainly sets the mood of the game with some wonderful visuals and action and a great introduction for Shadow. As soon as the game starts, however, you realise that this is well below the standards set by most other PS2 games. To be blunt, this game looks little better then a top quality PSOne title. Average texturing, horrific jaggies and people talking without any movement of the mouth or face at all. The camera also poses a problem and requires far too much manual rotation for my liking. The one saving grace is the range of moves and animations which Namco have put into the game. The disarms in particular are very impressive to watch.

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Targeting has been improved.
If you're an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, as I am, then you should be familiar with the style of the music in this game. So much of the music is uncannily close to the theme music from his Commando, Terminator and Predator movies. Given that this is a straight out action title the music did suit the game very well indeed. The sound effects are also fairly brutal with a wide range of sound effects for the guns and explosions. As for the voice acting, well the less said the better. Namco really have to improve the voice acting in their games. Dead To Rights has the same lame sounding, and phrased, lines as in their Time Crisis games.

Dead To Rights is a solid action title that could have been a lot better with improved visuals, a bit more tweaking and better hand-to-hand combat. The storyline is adequate and Shadow adds a bit of fun to the mix. Having said that, Dead To Rights is well below Namco's best, and there are much better action titles on the Playstation 2. The actual game is fairly short (well under 10 hours gameplay) as well, so it may be better off as a rental.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSVery average in-game graphics which are well below Namco's best.
SOUNDAverage voices but the music and effects will rock your room.
GAMEPLAYPlenty of moves let down by poor hand combat and enemy AI.
VALUEAround 7 hours to complete but it's fun enough for a second helping.
OVERALLDead To Rights is a decent enough action game that is let down in a few areas. It's certainly violent in places, especially when taking hostages, and action fans will likely get enough entertainment.

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