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M (Mature)



August 19, 2002



- Intense action
- Great presentation
- Hand-to-hand and ballistic combat is a good mix
- K9 partner



- Camera in tight places causes frustration
- Mini-games can get annoying
- No auto-save



Interview: Andre Emerson, Producer and Designer on Dead to Rights

Review: Grand Theft Auto Two-Pack (XB)

Review: Max Payne (XB)

Review: BloodRayne (XB)

Review: Soul Calibur II (XB)



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Dead to Rights

Score: 8.3 / 10


dead to rights xbox review         dead to rights xbox review


When any console game hits the “Platinum” stage, the developers must have done something right. (Of course, a wily marketing department can help, too.) For the most part, Dead to Rights (DtR) gives action fans what action fans want: action. But it also deals out its own fair share of frustration in the form of a camera that is, to be fair, somewhat wanting.

You play as K-9 cop, Jack Slate – in the same tradition as other two-syllable action game protagonists – who is bent on revenge for the murder of his father and to clear his name in the traditional action game manner: killing anyone that looks at you sideways. Slate goes on a one-man crusade for answers by laying waste to the underbelly of society – gunning them down in slow motion, using them as human shields, beating them senseless, performing some of the most brutal “disarming”




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moves ever, or having his dog, Shadow, leap up and rip their throats out. Needless to say, if you balk at violent content, stay away!

But if action is your thing…

Besides Slate’s arsenal of up close and personal fighting moves, he has access to a wide assortment of guns. There are shotguns, automatic weapons, a sniper rifle, and


handguns, each with varying firing rates and effectiveness. Targeting foes with your weapons proves to be no problem thanks to the good controls. Holding the left trigger locks you onto the nearest target. The reticule phases color depending on your chances of hitting the target – when it’s red, unload; when it’s green, get closer for better accuracy. This method works extremely well, especially in conjunction with Slate’s adrenaline (read: bullet-time) acrobatics. It never gets old leaping out from behind a parked car and dropping three or four opponents with one frantic slow-mo dive. Except if you’re in restricted quarters, like hallways.

In the outdoor areas, problems with the camera are largely unnoticeable but when you go inside you’ll often be attacked from off-screen, either by fist or bullet, which often results in Slate’s untimely demise. The problem is that the camera doesn’t react automatically to the situation (unless it’s scripted). Instead of objects taking on transparency, your view is blocked. Take for example a showdown with a bevy of gun-toting masseuses in a massage parlor. There is one large room in the middle of the complex, with many small rooms and hallways pin-wheeled from that room. Never mind Slate, you also have to keep an informant alive – a nearly impossible task given the fact that you can be fired at from off-screen enemies (often in the back). Winding up in a cramped corner (and dead) time and again is inevitable. Talk about frustration! Particularly when you give up and turn off the game and realize you didn’t save your progress – one of DtR’s oversights is the lack of an auto-save feature, you have to do it manually – which may mean replaying sections you never wanted to revisit.


dead to rights xbox review         dead to rights xbox review

To break up the action (or maybe frustrate you) DtR sports many mini-games. From picking locks to lifting weights in prison, your timing and button mashing skills will get a workout. At one point you’ll even face a coordinated button sequence to have a stripper distract some guards. It breaks up the action, which can be a good thing. In fact, the pacing is pretty good. Just when you get tired of fighting your way out of prison Slate gets to break-out the guns.

In the presentation department, DtR is all about quality. The character motion is smooth and explosive when it needs to be. One of Slate’s “superpowers” is the ability to grab a fire extinguisher, toss it toward a group of enemies, and then blast it out of the air for a satisfying explosion and a great way to clear a room. Another cool feature for action fans is the slow-mo disarming moves, which can be brutal to watch but are animated in such a way at to make them morbidly fascinating. The cutscenes are great and surprisingly well acted – although I never really connected with Slate. He may have been wronged but he does some truly nasty things and the story doesn’t really offer a solid reason for Slate’s actions, like when he throws the warden in the electric chair. I guess it was done for a sight gag… I think.

Aside from the camera issues, Dead to Rights can’t be faulted for what it is – an unapologetic action game in the same vein as Max Payne, but with a dog sidekick and hand-to-hand combat. The dollars ($20US) to gaming ratio makes Dead to Rights a no-brainer purchase for action fans.

- Omni
(November 26, 2003)


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