PS2 REVIEW: DEAD TO RIGHTS 2: HELL TO PAY

Dead to Rights II has addressed one of the biggest issues that gamers had with the first game, that it was too hard, and has simplified the sequel significantly. The end result is a game that features the 3Ds - less depth, less detail and less difficulty.

Streamlined gameplay makes Dead to Rights II a high-action shooter but at the expense of variety. Clearing roomfuls of enemies gets a little tedious after a while. The first game showed some signs of originality but this second version is comparable to Max Payne, though not as good. Whatever new innovations this sequel contains have all been done before and done better in other games.

Presented as an arcade shooter one shouldn't expect much depth and most wouldn't even miss it if the game were fun. While it may elicit some squeals of delight in the first couple of hours it doesn't take long for those squeals to be replaced by snores. Dead to Rights II is just not captivating enough to play for hours on end at one sitting.

Starring as Jack Slate, a cop who was once framed for the murder of his father, is back and he's pissed off all over again. It seems that his father's friend, a judge, has been kidnapped by a gang of underworld thugs. Presented in mock film noire style, this story of revenge and vigilantism is just a thinly veiled excuse to kick some ass. The presentation is heavy handed and inanely cornball. It's a little over-the-top. Whereas Max Payne was almost believable, Jack Slate is a caricature of a caricature.

Killing bad guys is your number one priority. You'll often find them around corners, down corridors and behind doors. Like Max Payne, the bad guys are usually found hanging in groups. An auto target system lets you focus on one at a time as you fill him full of lead from various guns that range from a shotgun to a machine gun. Other weapons include grenades, rocket launchers, Molotov cocktails and your own hand-to-hand combat skills, although that aspect of the gameplay is downplayed.

Dead to Rights is known for it's graphic and violent kills, most of which are compliments of Slate's disarm moves. By sneaking up on a character you can take his weapon and kill him with your bare hands. There are 13 new variations for a total of 25 takedowns which result in a lot of back breaking and neck snapping. These animations are the highlight of the game.

Enemies can also be used as human shields. Not only can you acquire their weapons but you can move about in a crowd of thugs virtually unharmed. The difficult part is actually catching one of the bastards. In another tip to Max Payne you can slow time down if you have some juice in your bullet time meter. This will help you get out of a situation in which you are overwhelmed with enemies.

Another weapon in your arsenal is a dog called Shadow. He would have been a great addition but due to faulty programming he doesn't always do what he's told. Sometimes he'll get hung up on obstacles and other times he just won't obey orders. He will cost you health to use him so be careful because he's not always worth the price.

Basic hand-to-hand combat still exists and consists of punching and kicking combos. The controls are limited and you can usually get away with button mashing. It works for this game only because it's not used very much and it does tend to allow you to get your aggressions out as opposed to recalling a series of face button combinations.

Another aspect of the game that has been changed is the mini games. There are none. This keeps the pace of the game going strong but with so much focus on the main gameplay it's all too evident to see how repetitive it is.

I'm not impressed with the graphics. There are too many repetitive rooms and corridors not to mention bad guys that look far too similar. The animation is good but the game is going for a more unrealistic cartoon look and feel which I feel is the wrong direction for a game that relies so heavily on its violent premise.

All I can say is that if this version was released first, I doubt very much there would have been a sequel.

Preview by Vaughn

Namco was on the right track with the first Dead To Rights, an edgy Max Payne-esque action/fighter which appeared on the Xbox, PS2 and GameCube in 2002. Many found the Xbox versions difficulty level a tad over the top which left a bitter and exhausted collection of gamers in its wake. The later released PS2 version corrected every single issue, therefore delivering a tighter and more enjoyable gameplay experience. We're hoping Namco gets the sequel right the first time for DTR2: Hell to Pay.

Promising a new 360 degree brawling system, melee weapon battles, spherical slow motion diving system and more usage from Shadow, Jack Slate's canine compadre, DTR 2 could easily be on the hit list for fans who appreciated the original's take back the streets gameplay.

While we were quick to call the first game a Max Payne wannabe before we played it (yeah, sometimes we're wrong) we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of control Namco crammed into the game engine. The fighting mechanics needed work, but the foundation for future improvement was definitely present in the guts of the first one. A 360 degree fighting system - much like the Rise To Honor control system we suspect - will hopefully improve this one weak area for the sequel. Stay tuned for more info.

Story:

Action-hero Jack Slate and his deadly K-9 partner Shadow, return in Dead to Rights® II, a third-person action shooter with all new brutal disarm moves, spherical slow-motion diving system, and an arsenal of deadly weapons including Shadow himself. The story, which pre-dates that of the original Dead to Rights®, begins with Jack investigating the kidnapping of a prominent Grant City judge. His investigation unfolds a labyrinth of crime, corruption and betrayal...an earlier look at the mean streets of Grant City.

Features:

  • More Shadow - Now use K-9 fighting companion, Shadow, to attack enemies in real-time while you take care of other business.
  • New Disarm Moves - Thirteen brutal new disarms moves to take down enemies in the heat of battle. More than 25 disarm moves in total!
  • Spherical Slow-Motion Dives - New freedom means that Jack can shift in all directions from one enemy target to the next and take them all out in dramatic fashion.
  • Weapons - Jack’s massive arsenal now includes heavy artillery such as rocket launchers, grenades, molotovs, and much more!
    Melee Fighting - Lightning-fast melee fighting system allows Jack to collect and use melee weapons throughout his environment, including bats, pipes, meat cleavers, and swords.
Dead To Rights 2 Preview By Staff

Jack is back! Dead to Rights II: Hell to Pay is a gritty, crime-noir inspired epic with more corruption, more betrayal and more crime. This over-the-top gaming experience makes YOU the hero with super-charged game play, jaw-dropping graphics and hard-boiled storytelling.

FEATURES

  • Jack's K-9 companion, Shadow, assists in combat and retrieves items during fighting.
  • 13 brutal new moves to take down enemies in the heat of battle.
  • Lightning-fast melee fighting system allows Jack to collect and use melee weapons throughout his environment, including bats, pipes, two-by-fours, machetes and swords.
  • Jack's massive arsenal now includes mini-guns, shoulder-mounted RPGs, land mines, grenades and incendiary shells that set your enemy ablaze.

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System: PS2
Dev: Namco
Pub: Namco
Released: April 2005
Players: 1
Review by Stew XX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.0
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
2.0
VALUE
1.0