The fourth game in the Dead to Rights series, Dead to Rights: Retribution, debuts on the PlayStation 3 with volatile cop Jack Slate and his K-9 attack dog, Shadow, returning to Grant City in order to stop nefarious evil doers who exert undue influence over the city. This third-person action shooter provides a “reboot” of sorts, though the story refers to some original elements of the story. In this game, Jack is also joined by his dad, Frank, while other characters include Julian Temple; news reporter Marla Bales; and Jack’s friend Faith, who is also a medical worker. “When you’re broken, I’ll fix you,” she tells Jack.
The action-filled interactions work well, usually without time limits, but the views and visual angles sometimes take a while to catch up to players' abilities. Jack can disarm, counterattack, melee, take cover, or use baddies as shields when battling crime characters and bosses. Shooting with the ranged weapons, essential when battling enemy snipers, would be better with a target lock option, and some enemies take an unrealistic amount of lead (even though most have no visible body armor). Shadow can always fetch weapons and ammo for Jack, but pressing/holding R1 each time to add them to one's inventory and the limited ammo amounts diminishes the shoot ‘em up elements. Don't think however that just because there's violence that it's necessarily bloody — players can set the graphic gore level to low, medium, or high (the high setting includes screen splatters).
The small size of the cross hair graphic adds some aiming challenge, but is understandable functionally because a bigger cross hair would interfere with background graphics and environments. The hand-to-hand combat moves create some quicker moments of combat, especially when Jack can get up close and personal with a weapon in his hand. The slow motion “Focus Mode” also helps when the fighting gets thick or Jack’s in over his head. The triggered takedown is the most satisfying hand-to-hand action as the slow motion cut scene gives players a chance to rest among all the action.
Shadow also gets in on the action with his own attacks, enemy hunting skills, and quiet takedowns playable in special sequences or controlled through Jack on the directional pad. This lethal dog also has an enhanced vision feature so players can easily spot special enemy outlines before they get close and become an overwhelming issue for Jack. Shadow can also drag bodies to keep them from alerting hordes of baddies or in order to flush them towards Jack. The challenging enemy AI anticipates player moves and basic strategies very well. Adversaries will often charge you, so quick movement, flushing them out individually, and constant misdirection help.
Players can achieve trophies and supplement the experience with downloadable content on the PlayStation Network. Players who missed the pre-order “Jack Pack” and “Shadow Pack” DLCs can get them in the upcoming “GAC Pack”, which also includes two new gameplay modes — "Riot Control Mode” and "Assault on the 87th Precinct". Hopefully a two player co-operative mode where one player controls Shadow with full capabilities and the other controls Jack for an enhanced team effort experience will be forthcoming.
Dead to Rights: Retribution is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, and Use of Drugs. This game can also be found on Xbox 360.