The original Dead To Rights tried to ride the Grand Theft Auto wave, with middling results, when it was released in 2002. A sequel followed in 2005, but it’s been half a decade since we’ve heard anything from the franchise. Did a five-year layoff do developers Volatile Games any good?
Dead To Rights: Retribution discards everything extraneous for pure action, and it’s a better game for it. Instead of going down the GTA sandbox route and creating gigabytes of additional content to flesh out the world, Volatile is content to turn you loose in tight, well-paced levels against criminal trash and let you Supercop your way through them. The protagonist of the game is Jack Slate, a Granite City cop who faces off against a conspiracy to organize the city’s gangs for mass mayhem. The plot’s not too original, but you also don’t have to sit through a lot of it. The general gameplay is your standard third-person shooter action, with a variety of weapons, but there’s enough spice in the recipe to elevate it from the generic. Slate’s melee attacks are one such bonus – they make absolutely no concession to reality, instead venturing into Mortal Kombat levels of ludicrousness, with flying uppercuts abounding. Slate can grab enemies, use them as human shields, finish them off with devastating wrestling moves and even throw them at other dudes. In addition, the ability to control Slate’s dog Shadow in stealth sequences helps break up the game’s 10 chapters.
Retribution isn’t the kind of game that’s going to re-invent the wheel. What it is is an exciting, fast-paced popcorn adventure with responsive controls and lots of room for mayhem. And sometimes, I don’t want anything else from a video game.