Dead to Rights II once again puts you in the role of Jack Slate, who is investigating the whereabouts of a kidnapped judge. That’s really all you need to know about the story and this game, because for the next eight to 10 hours, all you’ll be doing is killing people. A short cutscene breaks up the action every so often, then it’s back to the killing. Like the original Dead to Rights, Dead to Rights II is a pure action game with an old-school approach, but even this sequel maybe a little too old-school for some players.
What I mean by this is that gamers have, in the two years since the first Dead to Rights game, graduated to the next level of gameplay and begun looking for a bit more complexity to their shooters. Yet the gameplay in Dead to Rights II consists of “kill all the bad guys in this level, then move on to the next level. Rinse and repeat.” On top of this gameplay simplicity, the game’s levels appear bland, and most of them look too similar in terms of design and textures.
Some hand-to-hand fighting levels break up the shooting action, and in this sequel players can actually gain control over Slate’s dog, Shadow, to take down criminals. These levels seem out of place, though, because just a minute earlier, everyone was armed to the hilt with guns and grenades, then suddenly no one has a gun. Then, somehow, once the fighting is over and Slate is ready to move on to the next area, shazam! Everyone has all their weapons back. It’s not a game-breaking issue, but it makes the fighting and dog-controlling segments feel pasted into the game for no reason.
Dead to Rights II, despite its flaws and weak story, does offer lot of action for adrenaline junkies. There are several brutal new disarm moves that allow you not only to take an enemy’s gun away from him, but also to break a few bones in the process. The levels with Jack’s trusty canine sidekick, Shadow, also are pretty innovative, but he can only be ordered to attack or be called back. Still, he is still very useful at times to chew up bad guys and retrieve guns and ammunition.
As in Max Payne and the original Dead to Rights, players can also dive in slow motion to take out thugs in midair or grab a bad guy and use him as a human shield. There is no denying that Dead to Rights II delivers big when it comes to all-out action.
Graphically, Dead to Rights II isn’t up to par with games like Max Payne or Halo 2, but it is a slight improvement over the first game. There needs to be more variety in the level designs and, to be honest, the whole look of the game seems outdated. The explosions and particle effects are surprisingly well done, especially when seen in slow motion, and the shoot-dodges also produce some nice blur effects. All in all, Dead to Rights 2 is visually solid and keeps a smooth framerate, but it’s not exactly the best-looking shooter around.
Dead to Rights II falls very short in the audio department, with music that’s no longer than 15 or 20 seconds and loops over and over and over and over and…. You get the picture. Some of the weapon sounds seem too weak, and the voice acting is not only awful, but filled with more cussing than a theatre full of Hell’s Angels watching Scarface.
This newest shooter from Namco has its drawbacks, but it still manages to offer up a somewhat enjoyable action-packed experience. If you were a fan of the original, I would recommend renting the sequel before paying the full retail price, just to make sure you haven’t graduated from the straightforward play. Either that, or pick it up in a month or so in a bargain bin near you. It’s bound to be there soon.
- Gameplay: 7.5
- Straightfoward play with lots of moves, of which the disarming ones are the best.
- Graphics: 6
- Looks dated, with a severe need for more variety in level design.
- Sound: 4
- Looping music tracks, bad voice acting and too much senseless cursing.
- Replay: 5.5
- Eight to 10 hours to complete, with few unlockables and no real reason to play again.
- Overall: 6.5
- This should’ve been more than just slightly better than the original. Rent it before buying at full price.
— Randie Kilgore