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Dead to Rights II
Platform:PC; PS2; Xbox;
Release Date:August 2005
Article Posted:March 2006

There is a new case to investigate?

An ordinary police officer might start an investigation with a survey of the crime scene. Interrogating witnesses, running background checks, and meticulously analyzing the available data might eventually lead the officer to a suspect. Grant City’s tough guy Jack Slate cannot be bothered with such nonsense.

Almost immediately after Judge Alfred McGuffin announces that he has enough evidence to bring down Grant City’s elite and reveal the true corruption plaguing the city, he is “mysteriously” captured. Without wondering too much about why an otherwise brilliant judge would publicly announce the imminent arrest of powerful and influential citizens of a corrupt city, Jack asks his friend Ruby to go undercover and investigate the case. As soon as Ruby uncovers the first semblance of a lead, Jack takes over.

Hold on, let me just pickup my guns…

Jack does not understand concepts like keeping a low profile or knocking on doors before breaking them down. Minor details like gathering evidence, building up a strong case to stand up in court, or even actually arresting the bad guys are not important. Instead, Jack believes in an instant justice and righteous fury system centered around putting bullets through the heads of miscellaneous thugs. The action begins as Jack literally drives a police car into the door of the club he is supposed to investigate. Forget about a story, plot development, colorful characters, or puzzles… Start shooting already!

The original Dead to Rights told a very intriguing story. Jack got caught up in a conspiracy involving many different factions. As allies turned into enemies, Jack had to fight to stay alive long enough to find the truth and clear his name. The story drove the game forward and offered enough twists to keep players interested until the end. Unfortunately, Dead to Rights II does not even begin to deliver the kind of plot players enjoyed in the original. Sure, there is a story in Dead to Rights II, but it is nothing more than an excuse to put Jack up against one army of faceless, nameless thugs after another. This is a pure action game in every sense, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What do you mean we were supposed to interrogate that guy?

Dead to Rights II builds on the solid gun combat experience from its predecessor. The game runs very smoothly and the simple controls make it easy to tackle large numbers of enemies. Players do not have to deal with targeting enemies manually. With the touch of a button, Jack can lock onto a bad guy. He can run around freely while shooting, hide behind corners, or take a slow-motion dive while dodging bullets.

The game features an array of guns that will be familiar to players of first-person shooters. Jack can blast his enemies with pistols, shotguns, or submachine guns. However, the amount of ammunition he can carry at a given time is much more limited than it might be in an average action game. Thus, Jack occasionally has to rely on his disarm moves to take guns from his opponents. He can also grab hold of his enemies and use them as a human shield.

One of the best elements of Dead to Rights II is Shadow. Jack’s canine companion can be extremely useful and keep you alive in many situations. Upon demand, Shadow is capable of picking up guns or first-aid kits and delivering them to Jack. If you are out of ammunition or low on life with enemies lurking right around the corner, this feature can be a true lifesaver. But more importantly, Shadow can also directly help with the fighting. While you are safely hidden, Shadow can sneak upon the thugs and take them out before they even realize what is happening.

In order to order to call upon Shadow for help, execute a disarm move, or take a human shield, Jack needs to have enough adrenaline. Each time he executes a special move, Jack depletes some of his adrenaline. The adrenaline recharges gradually. Jack also gets an adrenaline boost upon successfully completing a disarm move.

Dead to Rights II also features a few melee combat sequences. Jack is equipped with a few simple punches and kicks. He will also occasionally find a melee weapon such as a knife or a bat. While there is nothing particularly exceptional about the hand-to-hand fighting, it does offer a nice break from the constant gun action. Unfortunately, the gun and melee combat is all there is to Dead to Rights II. The game requires very little in terms of exploration. Jack will sometimes have to find a keycard or a switch, but you will just about always know exactly where you need to go and what you need to do. There are no puzzles. The mini-games from the previous game have also been completely removed.

Don’t worry; I am sure my bullets asked all the right questions!

Fortunately, the fighting in Dead to Rights II is not completely mindless. Players will have to analyze the situation and vary their tactics as they proceed through the game. There will be situations where you can just charge in with your guns blazing. At other times, it will make a lot more sense to send Shadow to clear a room. While explosive cans, disarm moves, or human shells might help you, sometimes the best defense will be just to keep moving as you shoot down your enemies.

Dead to Rights II has a small number of missions each of which are divided into multiple sections. Upon completing each section, the game will save automatically and Jack will start the next segment with full health. The different locations include a night club, rooftops, the harbor area, and a casino. While it is nice to have a change of scenery with each new level, the core structure of the missions will remain identical throughout the game. Jack will just move from one room or corridor to the next killing the enemies along the way.

It can certainly be fun to blast your way through dozens of thugs like a true action hero. However, Dead to Rights II simply does not have the level of depth offered in the first game of the series. The interesting plot has been replaced with a shallow backdrop for heavy action sequences. The unique mini-games are gone and there is less exploration required. The game is extremely linear and on the short side. Players can expect to easily get through it in seven to eight hours. If you are looking for a game that will challenge you intellectually or offer any kind of true depth, Dead to Rights II is certainly not your best option. But if you want some solid action gaming to blow off some steam, Jack Slate and Shadow will be happy to oblige.