Mindless, violent shooters. These are the kinds of games that can be found for a dime a dozen on consoles, and Namcoâ€™s original Dead to Rights fell exactly into this category. But what happens when developers decide to create a sequel to an already average video game? You get Dead to Rights II, a boring, short and extremely repetitive title that reeks of mediocrity.
In the second installment, which also acts as a prequel, players reprise the role of Grant Cityâ€™s tough-as-nails cop, Jack Slate, in another adventure loaded with hot lead, brutal disarms and more thugs than you can empty a clip at. This time around, Jack is â€œinvestigatingâ€ the kidnapping of one of the cityâ€™s most prominent judges. Uninspired and typical, a deep story isnâ€™t something players should be expecting to find in this title. Instead, the plot is merely a setup for all of the action that takes place throughout the brief adventure.
The prequel plays almost exactly like its predecessor with the exception of the mini-games and the intriguing plot that made the original title somewhat of a more pleasant experience. With that said, the linear levels are composed of long corridors, confined spaces and a wealth of enemies who must all be eliminated before they get the chance to do the same to you. Rinse and repeat. Your foeâ€™s AI is a mixed bag; theyâ€™ll occasionally charge at you with guns blazing, whereas other times they will try and seek shelter or throw grenades at you, but overall, their strength remains in their numbers. The perfect example of this would be when walking down a corridor or turning a corner; youâ€™ll always encounter at least a half dozen goons who require eradicating.
Much like the former Dead to Rights, the targeting system is completely lock-on based, meaning players must first hold down the right trigger to target an enemy and then blast away by pressing the default fire button. Returning once again are Jackâ€™s brutal disarming moves, which allow players to rip away weapons from enemies who venture too close. This time around, heâ€™s got a couple of new bone-crunching tricks up his sleeve that will certainly send chills down your spine as he viciously beats down a thug and dispatches him utilizing his own firearm. Although mastering these disarms without taking damage will require a little practice, when successfully pulled off, these wicked moves definitely rival anything The Punisher can pull off. Alongside the recurring disarms is the addition of Max Payne-like slow motion dives. These moves bring time to a crawl and allow Jack to do some interesting aerial acrobatics, while blasting away at enemies. Although they add an extra edge to the otherwise repetitive â€œjanitorâ€ work that is comprised of cleaning each room and hallway with bullets, they can only be used a limited amount of times.
Another fresh idea that has been implemented into this title is the adrenaline bar, which fuels your bullet time contortions, among other things. Excessive use of adrenaline will rapidly empty the bar, and adrenaline takes a few minutes to fully recharge itself, although thankfully, players can aid the refueling process by using disarms on enemies.
Now, almost anyone would feel overwhelmed with the odds Jack is faced with, but thankfully, this time around he has a little extra help. The aid comes in the form of his K-9 partner, Shadow. Dead to Rights II tries to emphasize the use of Shadow to help Jack get past certain areas that he couldnâ€™t face alone due to the hordes of enemies present. Making good use of the ferocious canine is simple and consists of targeting an enemy and pressing the proper button. The animal will run out, viciously kill the designated thug, and return with his weapon. Now thatâ€™s what I call obedience!
This sequel, however, wouldnâ€™t be a genuine Dead to Rights title without boss battles, but fear notâ€”it has a heap of them. Colossal battles occur at the end of every chapter and are usually composed of players being pitted against a bunch of common thugs and the boss. These levels essentially require an excessive amount of shooting, dodging and more shooting. No real skill or creative means to dispatch of the boss characters is required, which is a shame and makes the only noticeable separation between the generic hoodlums and boss characters the amount of bullet casings that must hit the ground before the head honcho joins his compatriots.
To assist in breaking the monotony of the repetitive gun battles, developers saw fit to introduce random levels of hand-to-hand combat, which involves mashing one or two buttons repeatedly until no one is left standing. Bats, 2x4s with nails in them, and knives are a few of the melee weapons Jack can use, but these do not save these hollow segments from feeling just as repetitive as their firearm counterparts. In addition, as if that wasnâ€™t enough already, when transitioning into a new level, players will mysteriously regain all the weaponry they previously had. Something to be grateful for is the fact that these bore fests are short in length and in number.
Visually, Dead to Rights II is another letdown, even on the Xbox. Environments are disappointing and uninspired, ranging from the typical seedy joints to random and bland outdoor areas. The textures are low resolution and appear to be reused in more than one location. The character models in the game are a mixed bagâ€”the generic and reused thugs that players will come across repeatedly are generally low-poly and dull looking, specifically when compared to the gameâ€™s main characters, who look surprisingly fluid and properly animated. The game features a fair amount of action packed pre-rendered cutscenes, which hold up, but just barely. The best one would probably be the completely unrelated opening cutscene before the gameâ€™s main menu. From that point on, itâ€™s all downhill.
The audio is arguably the gameâ€™s worst aspect. The voice acting is incredibly cheesy, clichÃ© and is presented in a manor that feels as if the voice actors were either trying too hard or not caring at all. Accompanying the voice acting is what can only be described as tin-can sound effects. The dime-a-dozen thugs that pepper the locales sound like they are shouting their obscenities through a can, and the weaponsâ€™ sounds are extremely low quality. Drastically underpowered, replacing them with the recording of a peashooter would probably be an improvement.
Overall, Dead to Rights II is definitely a step backwards in the series. By removing the little mini-games and scrapping whatever parts of a story that were present, the latest title destroyed any credibility or potential it may have had. The game features a short single-player mode and very little replay value, aside from extra difficulty modes, which seem hardly worth it. Bland and uninspiring visuals coupled with atrocious audio makes the second installment feel much longer than it actually is. Although this is far from a game I would recommend purchasing, if youâ€™ve got a few hours to spare and want to play a brain dead action game, give Dead to Rights II a try, but donâ€™t expect anything more than just thatâ€”brain dead action.