|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Volatile Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 27, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Alternately, you can run at them full-bore and bite them in the crotch. The Shadow segments definitely give the game a unique feel, but also lead to some very strange moments. For example, in one level Jack sends Shadow into a military base to disable an electric fence by peeing on a pair of generators. A single noise from the dog sends the entire base into high alert. When the segment is finished, Jack calls Shadow a good boy, congratulating the dog on successfully killing a half dozen people. It's one of the weirdest moments of master/dog bonding that I've ever seen.
I do suspect that developer Volatile Games didn't take Retribution too seriously and knew that certain elements would seem unintentionally comical compared to the grim, straight-faced games that dominate the action genre. After a saggy middle, the game becomes more interesting as it goes along and tasks you with increasingly outlandish goals. At the start of the game, you're taking out gangs and following fugitives. By the end of the campaign, you're fighting sci-fi airships with a hand gun and donning power armor to mow down goons that look like low-rent versions of Half-life 2's Combine.
It's the goofiness that helps elevate Retribution above blandness - it's not a particularly good-looking game, nor is the sound that impressive or the plot that engaging. Even with a fairly short run time, it gets a bit boring and redundant at times. There's no multiplayer and not a ton of incentive to play through the campaign multiple times. In other words, if it weren't for the all-out strangeness of occasionally playing stealth segments as a dog or the nods to old John Carpenter movies, Dead to Rights: Retribution would be even harder to recommend.
All in all, Dead to Rights: Retribution is a perfectly average game. In a time when the economy is bad and games cost $60, most players will have a tough time justifying a purchase. However, if you give it a rental or borrow it from a friend, it's worth checking out. It's not going to be anyone's new favorite action title or blow your mind in any way, but it does what it intends to do reasonably well. If the game focused on brawling over gunplay a bit more, perhaps it would have worked a bit better. As it stands, I really doubt that the Dead to Rights series will continue beyond this entry. At least the final chapter in the saga isn't a total embarrassment.
J. Matthew Zoss
CCC Freelance Writer