Dead to Rights: Retribution Review
I guess I need to always remind myself that no matter how far into a generation we get mediocrity will continue to live on. What am I getting at? Well, as you can already guess, I'm calling Dead to Rights Retribution a mediocre game, and that's simply the truth. When the first game came out years ago, it was received fairly well and it signaled the start of a new and potentially important franchise for Namco. Instead of capitalizing on that and improving upon the original formula, the franchise instead went downhill. And that's a shame, because DTR had the capacity to be the next Max Payne, all it needed was some grit and more polish from the developers. So when Retribution was announced for the PS3 and Xbox 360, naturally I assumed that since we're so far into this generation, developing a solid action title shouldn't be too difficult. I was wrong.
You start off DTR Retribution and you immediately notice how awful the visuals are, and that's never a good sign. Now, the graphics don't make gameplay, but they do indicate a level of quality that may be found within the rest of the game, and in this case, that level of quality is poor. The story kicks off with Jack Slate critically wounded and his K9 buddy Shadow right by his side, aiding him by killing any enemy that gets nearby. So you actually take control of Shadow first, and as soon as you complete the mission, the game rewinds time to show the events that led up to Jack being in such a state. A giant corporate building is taken hostage by a faction of men, and Jack Slate, against his superior's word decides he's going to infiltrate and put an end to it all, before more innocent civilians are killed. It's a little bit Die Hard-ish, as you can see.
The story isn't at all my gripe with this game, though, it rarely is in action titles. My problem are the terrible game mechanics, which are clunky and dated. First, the game controls very poorly; there is no feeling of weight to Jack, his actions are generic, and simply has little to offer as an action character. The hand-to-hand action is bland, dull, and utterly repetitive, and the gunplay is a major step backwards when compared to a plethora of other games in the genre. Why Namco-Bandai even approved the release of the game is beyond me. Now, granted, I've played worse games recently, but it's just that I'm disappointed that a big-name publisher such as Namco would release something like this. I was also looking forward to a solid action shooter, on top of that.
But that's not where things end, no. You see, the camera couldn't possibly be any more vomit inducing, as the amount of bobbing around it does is so excessive that I got motion sickness literally after holding down the run button three times. Why do developers insist on such poor design choices? Nobody likes the extremely maniacal camera shaking, so someone needs to put an end to it. Then, you discover more issues when you take control of Shadow. For example, he feels completely out of place, his actions are as generic as Jack's, and his stealthy attributes could've been put to better use. There will be a number of stages in the game where you control Shadow and your priority will be to remain undetected, but I contest that those stages could've been done better, even if they are the highlight of the game. And with no multiplayer of any sort to offer, Dead to Rights Retribution simply doesn't have much going for it.
So I've already told you how lousy the visuals are for Dead to Rights, but I guess it's still my job to tell you just how lousy they are. They're pretty lousy. What? I have to write more? Well, alright. You'll first notice the generic textures, which are about as uninspired as uninspired can be. Everything just reeks of boredom, flatness, and absolutely no attention to detail. Heck, generic isn't even the word I'd use to describe the texture detail, since that'd be an insult to the average looking games out there. DTR Retribution simply doesn't even try to look good. You'll see these generic textures virtually everywhere you look, and the game never once exhibits even a glimmer of decent aesthetics. The animation is both stiff and might as well be non-existent, it's so plain and mediocre that it's wonder what took so long to release the game. But it's not like great visuals would've saved this from being a sub-par game, though. Either way, to continue, the character detail is sorely lacking, and Shadow's detail is downright comical. Shadow often looks like he's floating above the ground, so not only does he not control as if he's planted to the floor, but he also looks like he isn't planted.
The voice acting matches the rest of the game, it's just hard to listen to sometimes. The cut-scenes are never exciting, and the dialogue is poorly written, though to the game's credit, I'm sure some of that poor writing is intentional for the B-movie cheese effect. Gunshot sounds are dull and you don't feel as if you're wielding something powerful in your hands, or rather your controller, unlike many other action titles. Sound effects are plain, the background screams of your enemies are repetitive, and the overall audio experience is crippled.
I don't think I need to put this game down any further than I already have. Simply put, this just isn't worth your money. This would've been an acceptable game back on the PlayStation and maybe even early PlayStation 2 days, but the level of shallowness in game mechanics, the poor visuals, the boring story, the lousy audio, and the awful controls make it totally unacceptable for this generation. Namco-Bandai can do better, because they have done better before.
5/17/2010 Arnold Katayev