In the past few months, we’ve seen some of the coolest action games ever on the PS2 (i.e. MGS2, GTA3, DMC). You would think that the PS2 would eventually go into a drought as far as the action genre is concerned. But it won't be, and proof of this is Dead to Rights. In this action-packed -movie influenced game- you’re an ex-cop who’s been framed for murder.
It's no secret that John Woo has made such a name for himself in the movie industry that his work even impacts the video game industry. Most notably, Max Payne, which was recently released for the PS2, as it takes a lot of pointers from Jon Woo’s films. Dead to Rights strides on influence from big blockbuster action films, but won’t be one of those cheesy movie-to-videogame conversions.
Action is the prime focus in Dead to Rights. The addition of a lock on targeting system will help pull this off. While locked-on to an enemy you can strafe, run, and dive, blasting away your oppressors. Furthermore, you can actually lock-on to different body parts. Slow-motion moves and stunts are also incorporated into the game giving it that John Woo touch.
Your a poor guy named Jack Slate, who was once a cop, but now you’re on the opposite side of the jail cell--the inside. The reason behind this is because you supposedly killed somebody, or so it is believed. In actuality, you were actually framed. As you take control of Jack, you find yourself stuck in jail. But your goal is to escape its barriers and hopefully find your father’s killer(s)--who I might add, also set you up. The tricky story will unravel as you proceed throughout the game. Don’t learn to trust anyone though, because your allies might actually be your biggest threat. To top it off, this story is written by a Hollywood screenwriter, Flint Dille, which could prove to be very interesting.
If you’ve ever seen and enjoyed the movies "Romeo Must Die" or "The One" (John Woo movies) then you’ll understand and love the gameplay. If you want, you can jump in the air, fire off eight shots at four different enemies, then land into a role, reload, and go at it again--all while in slow motion, or real-time, you pick. If you want to activate the slow motion, just tap the jump button twice (which makes you jump and also activates the slow motion mode a'la The Matrix). Additionally, the longer you hold the jump button, the further it slows the action, of course, only to an extent. Hand-to-hand combat will also play an important role much like the Jet Li movie sequences.
However, weapons will still be needed heavily to take out the bigger numbers. Some characters you don’t want to kill, in particular police officers and other innocent humans. But they’re also after you so you’ll have to stop them, preferably with a billiard stick, a club, or a bat. You’re best weapons will sometimes just be your hands. Slate actually has the ability to steal his enemies weapons and then use it against them (of course, it’ll be done in a stunt type fashion). You don’t think it can get any cooler do you? Oh, it can! If you’re in a big line of fire or just feel like doing it for fun you can take someone else’s body and use it as a shield-type defense against oncoming fire. Slate can also easily wield two guns at a time--firing each one at a different foe.
Only ‘real’ men fight with their hands though right? Well, there will be plenty of opportunities to engage in good ol' fashioned fisticuff combat. Punching, kicking, blocking, and throwing will all be at your choosing to fend off your enemies.
Mostly found in Jackie Chan movies is the use of ordinary objects as a means of defense such as: tables, couches, chairs, and what have you. Well, once again, Dead to Rights feeds off of great action movies letting you use many different objects to deflect and block your enemies fire. In DTR, almost everything is interactive and meant to be used just as Chan uses them. However, they will also act realistically, so if you’re using a table to shield off gun fire, it will only work for so long. As I mentioned earlier, dead bodies also work as perfect shields.
It’s not all action though, puzzles will also be found throughout the game. Although, the puzzles shouldn’t be too problematic, because they are simple puzzles such as locked doors and blocked paths.
With all of these amazing options as far as gameplay goes, you have to wonder how the controls will work. They’re actually not too complicated. The X button shoots your guns. The circle button throws out a various number of commands depending on the variables. For instance, if you’re behind an enemy unarmed, then circle will break his neck and steal his weapon. But if you have a weapon, then you’ll grab him by the neck and use him as a shield to prevent you from getting hit. Circle can also make you lean up against walls (a’la SolidSnake), then you can pop out from the corner to gun down your enemies. Another move, which probably got some of its influence from DMC, is the flip-in-the-air-blast-your-foes maneuver. This is pulled off with the triangle button which makes you dive (direction according to your analog stick). While you’re in the air, you can fire as many shots as you like, thus killing the bad guys while making it harder to be hit. Additionally, the dive can be done in either real-time or slow-motion. Slow-motion though, looks a lot cooler and is also easier to pick off your targets.
Although being a 3rd-person action game, Dead to Rights also lets you play in first- person mode, which I might add, is the only way to get head shots. With some bosses, it will be imperative to make use of this first-person mode. Pressing R1 and R2 will switch between the game’s first-person and 3rd person perspectives. So, you can actually move around in a first-person view for most of the game if you choose to do so. L2 lets you circle-strafe your enemies and L1 allows you to crouch.
The targeting system is quite advanced. There’s three different colors that will appear around your enemies while being targeted. When it’s green, it means they’re out of range to be shot at; yellow means they’re almost in range; and when it’s red, you better start firing before you get dealt with first.
Andre Emerson, the producer, also claims that the AI will be very smart and react as though real bad guys would. The enemies have around ten different bullet wound animations according to where the bullet pierces them. A shot to the leg will slow down and impair their movement, while a shot to the arm will downgrade their ability to shoot you.
We’ve got to wonder though, can Namco actually pull off all of these brand-new, innovative gameplay mechanics? After all, Namco isn’t too familiar with games in the action genre, but if they pull off these new ideas correctly, we’re looking at one hell of an action-packed experience. Namco also promises that the different moves and stunts will be easy to pull off. I believe them too. Look at DMC. Around 5-6 months ago we were all drooling at the fast-paced gameplay. But at the same time, we were saying, "How the hell are we gonna’ pull off all of these sweet moves?" Then, when DMC was finally released, it was obvious that the fast-paced action was easy to handle and very responsive which gives much hope for all the innovations DTR promises to deliver. Dead to Rights is still in heavy development and does not have a release date as of now. Keep on checking back with PSX Extreme as we’ll be getting more screens and details in the months to come.
1/2/2002 Joseph Comunale