Review by sbn4

Reviewed: 04/27/05

Hell to Play?

Have you ever thought that today's games are getting a bit too complicated these days with extravagant and convoluted storylines, difficult to grasp gameplay, or do you just miss the good old days where games were just extremely easy to pick up and play? If you fit into this description, you might want to check out Dead to Rights 2. Dead to Rights 2 is a simple no nonsense action packed killing spree that doesn't hold anything back. Dead to Rights 2 might not big on story, graphics, or even overall presentation, but the intense gun shooting action carries this game fairly well to the very end.

For a third person action game, the original Dead to Rights had a pretty riveting storyline that was ripe with twists and turns that always made you wonder what's going to happen next. This time around you're given little incentive to care about the game's plot. You play as, Jack Slate, a hard boiled cop who returns along with his trusty pal Shadow to take a bite out of crime, literally. Jack must investigate the kidnapping of distinguished judge, but instead un-covers a plethora of corruption and greed within Grant City. Obviously, this give Jack all the more reason to send hundreds of men to their graves. Honestly, the story is very lacking compared to the original, in that you're given very little motivation as to what's going to happen.

Gameplay-7/10

Simply put, DtR2 is a simple 3D arcade shooter. Let's get one thing straight though, DtR2 is an extremely violent game which makes no excuse for the senseless killings. The basic goal is to take out all the guys who want to fill you full of holes. Jack can target enemies by depressing the L1 button. You need to grab the weapons off of you're dead foes, because Jack Slate doesn't believe in reloading. Once you've expended all the bullets in you're magazine, Jack will discard them. So don't get caught in any fire fight with no weapons. But if you do find yourself without one, just run up to a foe and press the circle button. Jack will perform a ridiculously brutal and stylish disarm in which he strips his foe of his gun, and at the same time executes them in a pretty cold blooded fashion. The disarms might seem extremely cruel, but they are sure to put a smile on you're face. There are a total of 28 disarms for you're viewing pleasure.

However, other than the disarms, a lot hasn't changed. In fact Namco has taken more things out than added. One of those things is an interesting storyline. Namco has seemed to have done away with the little mini-games that were in the first game. You can argue that the mini-games were annoying, but they certainly helped break the monotony. All you're pretty much left with is shooting people or punching people. The first game had some pretty interesting boss fights which were pretty cool, but DtR2 lacks in this area too. First person view is completely absent in this game, even if it wasn't terribly useful in the first game. Another thing gone is the sense of exploration. In the first game, you could investigate you're surroundings to a limited degree. DtR2 doesn't let you do that because the stages are pretty linear. You pretty much have to get from point A to point B with a number of human obstacles to overcome. Health and Armor items are scattered in certain intervals in order to make sure you reach you're goal alive. DtR2 seems to keep only the bare necessities from the first game which is the shooting. It's pretty disappointing considering that DtR2 could have been much more.

The original game provided a pretty stiff challenge. You might be glad to know that DtR2 at least retains that much from the first game. At first Jack might seem over-powered or even a tad bit invincible at times. He shrugs off bullets like they were nothing. But when you've got five guys with TMPs trying to blow you're head off, you'll quickly realize you're not as invincible as you thought. Standing still and just shooting is pretty much suicide. Even if you strafe or move around a lot, enough stray bullets will hit you, and you will lose considerable amounts of health. You must constantly take cover behind anything you can find, which include walls, tables, boxes, etc. If you take cover behind a certain object for to long, and enemy will lob a molotov you're way, so watch out. Here's a little tip for you though; don't ever take cover behind cars or any explosive material. You're enemies will obviously take advantage of this. But you can use these same tactics to you're advantage and take out groups of enemies. If cover becomes a problem, get close to an enemy and hit the square button and Jack will grab him and use him as a human shield. Naturally you can only use one gun, but it can provide some much needed help in tight spot. After the shield has served it's purpose or you don't need him any more, Jack will either knock him out or put a bullet in his head. It's extremely mean, but I don't know why it amuses me.

Another useful move that you can utilize in a pinch is the slow motion diving. Press and hold the triangle button until everything slows down, including you're enemies and yourself. In this state , Jack can target several enemies while he is diving. This is a great way for eliminating groups of foes. If you're really desperate, you can always rely on Jack's best friend, Shadow. After you've targeted an enemy, hit the L2 button to send Shadow out to attack. His adrenaline gauge must be full in order to perform an instant kill. If you're gauge is a little less than full, Shadow will bite the target which will immobilize, him. Shadow can also retrieve weapons for you. If you're getting the feeling this is all strangely familiar, then pat yourself on the back; because it is. DtR2 doesn't change much of the original's formula. Many fans of the first game might a little disappointed in the fact that it's an extremely lacking experience in comparison to the first.

Graphics/Sound- 7/10

Let's face it, Dead to Rights has never been particularly strong in the visuals department. The original wasn't anything to go crazy over, and by today's standards, it's very outdated and ugly. If there is one thing that I can say for sure that DtR2 does better than its predecessor, then i'd say the graphics. DtR2 is a much prettier and sleeker looking game compared to the first. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much. DtR2 still doesn't look very good for a game that came out in 2005. The graphics are simple and the environments are pretty bland. Most levels look very similar and that gets to be a problem. Hey, at least the environments are destructible. Another thing that is a big and annoying problem is the long loading times. There are no loading time in-game because the stages are pretty seamless. But after you play a segment that lasts anywhere from 5-15 minutes, you are then accompanied by a "Now Loading" screen that literally takes 30-40. I'm not exaggerating either. The game takes a really long time to load considering this game isn't a graphical powerhouse of sorts.

The sound is probably the single most weakest aspect of the game. First of all, the in game comments by the guards are pretty funny because of how lame they sound. They utter the same stupid obscenities and catch phrases over and over in an attempt to sound "hard." There is a lot of swearing in DtR2 other than just you're enemies. The voice acting is decent, but once again, the original is superior in this aspect too. Is it me, or do the guns sound pathetically weak in this game? When i fire my dual .45 automatics, I don't get any sense of power from them at all. The feel like little pop guns. And you'd think they'd at least make the shotgun sound like it can kill, but even that sounds weak. The best aspect about the sound is the music. The music reminds me of simple old-school tunes. They're not half bad either, and i would say they're a step up from the original game's soundtrack.

Replayability 7/10

There never really was any reason to play the first Dead to Rights game again. The same holds true for this game. It's pretty much a one time experience. Let's not forget that this game is a pretty short experience too. It'll last you about eight hours depending on you're skill. However, there are a few unlockable items for anyone who feels like trying to unlock them. By beating story mode, you'll be granted access to galleries, harder difficulty settings, new weapons, and some behind the scenes stuff. Other than these few extras, there isn't a whole lot to come back to.

I'll say this, Dead to Rights 2 is a disappointment compared to the first game. The original seemed like an ambitious title with a good plot, intense gun action, mini-games to break the monotony and enough high octane action to keep you going to the end. A sequel that was given enough time and effort could have been stellar. Sadly, this game falls noticeably short in many areas. Even though DtR2 clearly has so many problems, why does it get a seven? Perhaps i'm being a bit generous, but DtR2 is actually fun. It's nice to just get into a game that doesn't have to justify anything and just play for the heck of it. It's got a simple concept and enough gameplay to boot. If you're looking for a game with no frills and no string attached, DtR2 is you're game. The fans who enjoyed the story-telling and variety of the first game will be disappointed by this one. Newcomers have no reason to consider this as a purchase, and would do better by checking out the first game. This game is a solid rental and is probably not worth the $50 asking price. But if you're just looking for some mindless gameplay or something to relieve a little stress, DtR2 might be what you're looking for.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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