Dead to Rights: Reckoning Review

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Developer: Rebellion Publisher: Namco
Release Date: June 28, 2005 Also On: None

Before Dead to Rights, action games generally gave the player a magnifying glass and plenty of little helpless ants to burn. When Namco released the original Dead to Rights, I remember many situations where I would be pinned down, watching bullets and shrapnel explode around me. It wasn’t the same ant-burning situation. The ants were fighting back. When I saw that Namco was publishing Dead to Rights: Reckoning for the PSP, I was excited to have all of that action contained in a portable UMD. After playing through the game, I’m slightly disappointed but I can honestly say that it was fun.

One of the first noticeable flaws with this game is its story, or the lack of one. The entire game focuses on a hostage rescue mission that Dead to Rights hero Jack Slate is sent on. Somehow the local bikers, Triad gang members, and militia get involved and want to kill you. In the end, a surprising yet humorous conclusion ends a story that was a joke in the first place. But the story isn’t the key ingredient to a good action game — the gameplay is.

Dead to Rights for the PSP is as fast-paced as it possibly could be. I always seemed to be shooting at something, diving over something, or disarming and brutally killing someone. The action is solid. It’s easy, accessible fun. However, there are a few flaws that keep it from being a top-notch action title. The controls are easy to deal with but the camera makes everything much more difficult.

The targeting system is very handy, but the swiveling camera would never show me what I was focused on in time if it wasn’t right in front of me. When I’d be in any sort of small area, the camera would nearly switch to a first-person view that made navigation impossible. The other potential problem comes from the lame story: despite the enjoyment of shooting at things, there isn’t much of a reason to kill all of the hundreds of unimportant thugs.

At least the game keeps a constant frame rate. One of the biggest disasters in a game like this is a stuttering frame rate, but Dead to Rights stays very solid while looking impressive on the PSP. The environments are full of detail, and despite some generic set pieces, they look good. Jack’s character model looks good, and if it wasn’t for his strange running motion, I’d say the animation was done quite well. The music isn’t quite as good as the graphics, but the sound effects are pretty nice and explode right out of the PSP. I’m very disappointed that there were no voice-overs, though. It made the story much more difficult to care about.

Dead to Rights offers a multiplayer mode, but I didn’t have a chance to check it out. It is basically a deathmatch and not much else. This multiplayer mode doesn’t make up for a ridiculously short campaign. I know handheld games are supposed to be there for quick, short bursts of gameplay — but the entire single-player campaign could easily be completed in an hour. I went through 9 of the 12 missions on Normal difficulty in about 50 minutes. On Easy mode, I completed some of the missions in three or four minutes.

Dead to Rights: Reckoning is a solid but flawed action title. That’s all there is to it. If you’re a fan of the console version or action games in general, Dead to Rights: Reckoning is enough to satisfy your handheld thirst for shooting. This isn’t jaw-dropping material, but it’s quick fun.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6.5
Written by Cliff Review Guide

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