As mature titles have evolved over the decades, they have often drifted towards the more realistic rather than outrageously violent. While gaming is a form of entertainment, the demand for a realistic experience – even amongst violent titles – is becoming more and more the norm.
Enter Dead To Rights: Retribution. GameCentral were spot on when they described Retribution as “the world’s least anticipated title”, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t get a few hours of gruesome entertainment for your troubles.
Retribution is one of those games you’ll doubtless come across at a yard sale in a couple of years. No one will really remember it, but for a couple of bucks you’ll probably get at least a few hours of enjoyment out of it. Namco understands this, and have concentrated more on the entertainment than the intelligence factor. At least, I hope that’s what they intended – because the storytelling certainly isn’t Pulitzer Prize-winning stuff.
In this reimagining of the series, you take control of Jack Slate: the only decent cop in a festering stinkhole called Grant City. Sound familiar? That’s because if you’ve ever read a comic book in your life, you’ve heard this story. If you can learn to accept the fact that there’s nothing drastically original on offer in Retribution, you’ll definitely have a ball with Jack and his canine sidekick, Shadow.
That’s right, you can control the world’s most talented, flea-bitten murderer. Fans of previous iterations will probably remember that controlling Shadow was a clunky, time-consuming hassle rather than the outrageous fun it should have been. Retribution cuts all the strings and sends you straight into the action, with your first mission requiring you to slaughter a horde of cliché enemies while Jack hobbles around being awesome.
It’s into the first few seconds of your mission that you begin to realize the game isn’t exactly up to scratch. Controls are still tirelessly clunky, and you will often find yourself catching onto parts of the environment, especially when hiding behind cover or using the so-five-minutes-ago bullet time mode. The option to use cover was smart thinking by Namco, but it becomes ultimately useless when you come across buggy enemies that can shoot through walls and pylons.
Weapons are equally frustrating. While there is an arsenal of munitions at your disposal throughout Retribution, the mere fact that the game doesn’t understand how to store weapons is ridiculous in the highest sense. It doesn’t matter which weapons you’re using, even if you’ve been able to store them before, sometimes Jack simply won’t be able to carry more than one weapon at a time. This oversight doesn’t just cause mild frustration, it tends to ruin a majority of the game. Running out of ammo is a common occurrence, and when you are forced to fight barehanded for a large portion of the game, it depletes the sense of badassery that Jack Slate exudes in each cutscene.
Still, the fighting components have at least had a little time dedicated to them, and you’ll often get more fun out of pummelling enemies than you will shooting them. There are a number of different combos you can use throughout the game, and there is nothing more satisfying than taking an enemy hostage, letting him soak up a few bullets, and then throwing him off a tall building.
While fighting is attended to with some care, it’s unfortunate that the overall look of the game wasn’t afforded the same detail. Grant City has the potential to be a metropolis that both charms and terrifies the player. Instead, it does neither; becoming more of a comical Gotham City ala Batman: Forever. Joel Schumacher would be proud.
Voice work deserves some credit, as the supporting cast is able to build tension during the opening stages. Unfortunately, they soon fall into the trap of becoming nothing more than walking clichés in an already clichéd world. With so little going for it in the way of gameplay and storyline, Retribution could have used a well-rounded protagonist to build the story around, but Jack Slate’s voice actor is about as convincing as Commander Shepard’s.
In a nutshell, Dead To Rights: Retribution is a mindless romp littered with violence, debauchery, and ludicrous scenarios. There’s no way it will pick up any awards (is there a Razzies for video games?), and I doubt there will be anyone pining for a sequel, but who cares?
Sometimes, all you want to do is spend a day beating the shit out of bad guys. Retribution provides you with all the resources to do this, and more. It may not be the most polished title of the year; it may not even be worth your money until it’s in the bargain bin. But – I hate myself for saying this – it is just a little bit fun.
Character models are gluggy, and the city itself looks like it was torn straight from an original Xbox title. But the game does have its moments.
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Aside from hand-to-hand combat, there is nothing exceptional about the way Retribution plays. At times it’s both glitchy and buggy, but it could be worse.
Voice acting goes from decent to poor to ear-bleedingly horrific.
Eights hours is what you would expect from such a title, but the decision not to include multiplayer of any sort severely depletes any sense of replay value.
Everything on offer is sub-par. But if you’re a sucker for mindless violence and a distinct lack of storyline, then you’ll probably enjoy Retribution.