Review by DrMario2k
Jack Slate takes a different route.
If youre a connoisseur of horrible movies no doubt youll know about Troll 2. Its a low budget gore-fest, hastily put together, full of hideous dialogue and non-actors doing their best. Its a sequel to the original only by name as it seems that when it came time to deliver a product the makers had little faith in the product and decided to change the name to cash-in of a reasonably successful predecessor. The movie didnt even feature any trolls (they were actually goblins). If you imagine the original Troll as a solid, even good videogame rather than a poor horror film and its sequel carrying many of the cash-in traits of the second Troll movie then you might start to see where Im heading with this analogy. This time it really seems like a goblin is the star of the game, although the makers have still called him a troll.
Jack Slate bears very little resemblance to the star of the original Dead to Rights in terms of personality, style, or even some of his looks. Much could be said about the game in general, all things considered. The dog gimmick is still around (although its usefulness is even lower than the sparse occasions of the first), you can still dive across the room bullet-time style and those magical exploding canisters are still around (they look and are placed like fire extinguishers but are apparently propane tanks, making a handy grenade). But gone is the ridiculous and convoluted plot of the first (which was the basis for a mammoth 25,000 word review which you can find on Google, if youre interested), replaced with, well, very little. Supporting characters are almost totally done away with if you exclude bosses (whos back stories consist of Im gonna git you Jack Slate! before a showdown) and most of the remaining ones are gunned down quickly after being introduced. Jack seems to have lost his detective/investigative officer status from the first (which he fought hard for) as he solves every single problem in this game with some real New York cop work - a bullet or thirty.
Oh, the bullets. They dont seem to stop in this game. The mini-games and somewhat tactical run and gun gameplay of the first are replaced by a ridiculous shooting gallery. Youll enter a room, enemies will stream out, youll empty all your guns and then pick up ammo from the dead bodies. Rinse and repeat. I was reminded more of Time Crisis than the original Dead to Rights - its gone from the Japanese Max Payne to an on-rails shooter without the rails. Sure, youre apparently able to disarm enemies, use them as human shields and sic your dog on them, but it was rare when I did anything apart from dive and shoot. And shoot. And shoot.
The enemies are all carbon copies of each other. There must be a total of three enemy types per level, and thats on a good day. The weapons are dull and repetitive. The 3D sound is atrocious and seems to fluctuate wildly based on nothing in particular. The levels are bland and uninspired and require extensive backtracking. The hand-to-hand combat parts are completely nonsensical. I could go on.
Yet, I enjoyed it. I cant explain it. The game doesnt take itself seriously for a second, which is probably its saving grace. Jack starts every mission off by driving a vehicle into a door, or a gate, or an enemy in a crime scene. The bosses and enemies spout horrifically cliched dialogue while Slate flexes his muscles and fires off puns. Jack Slate from the original sits by and laments his lost IQ points (okay, the game wasnt very smart to begin with, but work with me). The hand-to-hand is a complete farce, as I mentioned before, but seeing Slate and his enemies holding up guns before going Lets fight like men, dropping them and taking up fisticuffs is enjoyable in a completely over the top, macho bravado way. The whole game is designed like the developers have no idea whatsoever as to what theyre doing while not breaking the game. Plus its not like the first didnt have any shooting (it did). They may have just been stripping it down to its base elements (which somehow makes shooting things less fun, go figure).
Perhaps its just a breath of fresh air, or something like that. By all accounts the game is mediocre at best and if youre a fan of the first youll probably be terribly disappointed. I couldnt stand it for the first half hour of playtime. But this is a game that turned around from a mind-boggling maze of criminal conspiracy into a one-liner craps and giggles action b-movie impersonator. Imagine Metal Gear Solid 4 turning out to be Duke Nukem with genome soldiers and you have a fair idea of what Im trying to get at.
Ill probably never know what was going through the developers minds. They might have run out of time and salvaged it any way they could have. They might have done the storyboard on 4/20. They might have been watching Arnie yell Let out some steam, Bennett! on a plasma TV in their office. Who knows? Im not in a hurry to pick up this game again any time soon because its really not very good, but at least it wasnt what I expected.
Product Release: Dead to Rights II (EU, 10/28/05)
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