PS2 REVIEW: JUDGE DREDD: DREDD VS DEATH

Forget the movie version of Judge Dredd which Hollywood took its dreaded liberties with. The comic book version of Dredd is nothing like the Stallone characterization. The "fantasy" character has more personality and depth than the real Stallone could ever hope to have. Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death remains true to the comic book scenario in theory but unfortunately the gameplay fails to deliver an experience worthy of his true heritage.

I might as well get to the problems because they are glaring. No use in reading the entire review because if you can't live with these flaws you're just not going to enjoy playing the game. First of all the plot is not bad but the storyline fails to support it any further other than just explaining the premise for each level. You would think that with all the time and expense of creating a game based on such a rich sci-fi universe that a more compelling and deeper story would be of prime consideration. It starts out good but fails to evolve.

In a brief overview, events take place in the 25th century. The world has become a much more dangerous place in terms of criminals and other forms of low life - including "no life." To deal with these threats more effectively, judges are given the power of the police, jury and executioner. They apprehend criminals, try them immediately and dispense justice which in many cases involves execution on the spot. In this game, the most famous judge, Judge Dredd tackles the Dark Judges and Judge Death who are on a killing spree maintaining that living beings are prone to sin therefore they are inherently evil. Sounds good to me. I like this premise but it doesn't go much further than that. What we're treated to for the duration of the game is a generic, first-person shooting gallery.

It appears as though the gameplay was given the same consideration as the storyline. It's a shame that the entire justice process wasn't explored in more detail. We are encouraged to arrest, try and execute villains but we don't get to see them committing offenses where we can make such calls on our own. Instead we have to approach people and check them out to see if they are wanted. A Law Meter fills when we fulfill our duty honorably. Any unlawful conduct will drain the meter. It's a nice touch but it doesn't go deep enough to become an integral part of the gameplay.

The world of the future is not very populated or so it seems. The streets and buildings are virtually empty. We could have done with some ambient pedestrians to flesh things out a little. Things are even sparse concerning the enemies. You have to do a lot of wandering around before you trigger some action. And you're not really wandering in the exploring sense because the game is very linear. It's just that the paths you're sent down aren't all that exciting. When you finally encounter some enemies you'll also be confronted with an impotent AI. The bad guys consist of various monstrous incarnates such as zombies, vampires and other undead entities not to mention the Dark Judges. Their attack patterns for the most part consist of walking towards you in a straight line. At least your weapons are equally impotent to keep things somewhat balanced.

Even a grenade tossed directly into the path of a creature can sometimes fail to have an effect while other creatures are blown away with a simple bullet. It's difficult to ascertain what weapon to use in what situation.

The Arcade mode does away with the story and just lets you have fun shooting things which is the only thing this game does well. Stripped of its pretensions, Dredd vs. Death makes a decent arcade shooter but it's the kind of game that should be made available for free in a cereal box. Think a poor man's version of House of the Dead.

The architecture of the city looks as though one person designed it all. There's little variety. The voice acting is about as bad as you would expect and the music tries too hard to sound important, as though it's compensating for the poor voice acting.

I have the game in question in my possession. Upon examining the evidence I hereby decree Dredd vs. Death to be an inferior product. My ruling is that the game should be executed. Should it survive a cycle in the dishwasher it will subsequently be sent to the clothes washer and then the dryer. Whereupon if it is still deemed in reasonable condition it will be placed on a plate and subjected to three minutes in the microwave oven, after which the liquefied residue will be poured down the toilet where it belongs.

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System: PS2
Dev: Rebellion
Pub: Evolved Games
Released: Feb 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.0
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
2.5
MUSIC/FX
2.5
VALUE
2.0