Dead to Rights: Retribution Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

Xbox 360
Release date:
April 27th, 2010
Namco Bandai
Volatile Games

Dead to Rights: Retribution

Contains healthy doses of seen-this-before.

Review by Andrew Calvin (Email)
September 22nd 2010

Jack Slate is a cop who doesn't have rules. Dead to Rights: Retribution wants you to know this up front. So as he runs around Grant City with his dog, Shadow, and sometimes his pop, he kills without mercy and curses while he does it, often with brutal finisher moves. And it's all held together by really bad dialogue between levels. Game designers have decided that this is what we want, so it's what we get. I don't necessarily want this, but I guess I'm not the target audience or maybe I don't know what I really want. I played the previous versions that graced last-gen systems and I know what to expect, so to me Retribution, isn't a bad game any more than instant ramen is bad food. It fills a void. Unfortunately, it's also one of those games where there will come a point you put down the controller and say "enough." I think I made it about half way when I just . . . couldn't . . . continue.

The novelty is there as the developers made sure to check off all the trappings of other recent action games: cursing, finisher moves, shooting, melee, ad nausuem. But claims of innovation are unfounded. See the problem is that I played Bayonetta (a game with real innovation) before playing this, so had I reversed the order everything would have been okay. But for the ride it provides, however short that may be, Retribution doesn't fail as much as it could have.

Retribution, isn't a bad game any more than instant ramen is bad food. It fills a void.

The developers were smart enough to let you control the doggy in some levels, and those are the best in the game. See this dog can stealth around unseen and when the time is right, tear foes up. Okay, so maybe there is a little innovation in this title. Maybe all the curse words and aggrandizement of violence won't sell this thing, but dang is it fun to be Shadow.

Dead to Rights: Retribution is your typical, generic action game. As such, let's describe a standard non-dog level: run around as Jack, disarm bad guys, maybe use them as a meat shield, tell them to f- off, headshot them, tell someone else to f- off, shoot a couple of other guys, and then run around some more. Doesn't sound too bad actually. The problem is that the gun portions of the game are poorly realized and levels are just too long, like a bad director's cut version of a tolerable movie. In action games, brevity is our friend.

As for dem guns, aiming and hit detection are really wonky. First think of the Uncharted games - now consider the opposite. I actually found it much easier to disarm and kill, and then go back to hand-to-hand, especially with the arsenal of finisher moves and power combos Jack has at his disposal.

Action games don't need to innovate or even be cohesive, but they do need to have addictive combat. Dead to Rights: Retribution does a decent job of providing a multitude of kill options but very little reason to keep playing. Levels are too long, and after a while, the stale mechanics wear thin. I'd recommend it if you loved the previous entries and want to try out the levels where you play as Shadow. Otherwise, you might want skip this weekend trip to Grant City.

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