Dead to Rights II is like fast food, it's quick and dirty, but in the end you end up feeling fat and unfulfilled. Despite being the sequel of 2002ís Dead to Rights, which featured a lot of run and gun action in addition to a number of mini games to break it all up, Dead to rights II has tossed those to the wayside in favor of more action based gameplay. While some of the franchiseís fans might celebrate this change, almost every aspect to the action in Dead to Rights II grows tiresome after a while and fails to give any real improvements over its predecessor.
Dead to Rights II focuses on a cop named Jack Slate, who has an inexplicable habit of crashing cars into things, is investigating the kidnapping of a well known judge. Jackís search will take him and his dog, Shadow to a few different, yet similarly designed locales against the gangs responsible for the kidnapping. Donít expect much in terms of storyline, however, as Jack tends to let his gun do the talking.
The gameplay is quick to pick up and learn, as is the case with any simple shooting game. You simply lock onto enemies with the R1 or right trigger buttons and fire until the baddie is dead, then move onto the next one. While the targeting system is simple and gets the job done, itís hardly accurate. Youíll find yourself attempting to lock onto a nearby baddie only to lock onto one across the room, or in some cases, a blank wall. Youíll constantly find yourself running around while tapping the R1 button to take out the nearest threat to you as quickly as possible. Levels all have a recurring theme Ė kill as efficiently as possible, survive until the mid level health pickup, then survive until the end of the level. Start the next level and repeat steps one through three again. Levels arenít large and generally last between five to ten minutes depending on where you are in the game. As stated earlier, level designs are linear, repetitive, and consist of fighting enemies around every corner through hallways, entering a large area full of goons, pressing a button to open a door from earlier in the level, backtracking to the said door through more waves of goons, and eventually reach the exit. Load times, to put it nicely, are ridiculous as youíll be waiting between one to two minutes for these small sections to load between levels, cut scenes, or after you die. This can be especially frustrating during boss battles as youíll find yourself making more than one attempt at some of them.
Youíll find yourself picking up any weapons you can find to keep going through the level, though some of the weapons are border line useless in most situations. Youíre better off sticking with your dual .45ís as opposed to shotguns and assault rifles.
In addition to running and gunning, Jack also has a handful of other moves up his sleeve. Youíll find your dog Shadow is useful in situations where youíre low on ammo. You can call him to attack a nearby enemy and bring you back his gun. Jack can also perform a diving bullet time move, in typical Max Payne fashion, that will let you take out a couple of enemies when youíre in a jam. There are also a couple of neat close quarter combat moves that enable you to break baddiesí necks and other sick looking attacks. He can also roll over, as well as take cover behind, certain boxes and objects placed throughout levels.
One gameplay element thatís been carried over from the first game are the random brawling levels where youíre fighting off the gangs of baddies with your bare hands, as well as any weapons you manage to pick up. The fighting mechanics in these levels are basic as you only have your arsenal of punches, kicks, and the aforementioned close quarter attacks for one hit kills. These levels come off as a little more frustrating as the run and gun levels and offer little in terms of variety or fun.
The gameís visuals havenít changed much, despite the fact that the original game was released in 2002. Textures are repetitive and bland, though some levels (such as the strip club in the beginning of the game) look good. Jack himself looks all right, but isnít anything special. The same can be said for the limited number of baddies youíll come across as well, since theyíre frequently repeated. There are some neat effects from the destructive object youíll come across, however. Soda machines, circuit breakers, and arcade explode in an orgy of particles and electricity, and youíll get some neat explosions and breaking glass just about everywhere you go. Thereís also a neat effect where if you shoot a bullet into a wall, dust will fall from the bullet hole.
In game music consists of thirty second loops that are repeated for the duration of a series of levels and gets old quick. During the game, gunfire and one liners from Jack and the gang members heís facing all sound muffled and lack any kind of volume. On a positive note, guns all sound different, and youíll learn to instantly recognize when gun youíre using, especially when the game tends to switch weapons on you for no apparent reason whatsoever. Melee weapons have issues, as hitting a person with a bottle gives you the same sound as when you slash them with a knife. The same can be said for bats and katanas ironically. The gameís dialog is decent, well voiced, and laced with expletives, though it does seem out of place at times and gives the impression that a certain F-word was put there just for the sake of adding another instance.
Deadto Rights II is a solid experience thatís sure to serve up some intense moments here and there, but ends up becoming repetitive and boring after a few hours. Thereís little to offer in terms of replay value, as the only other game mode offered is the instant action mode which throws endless waves of gang members at you. Once you beat it, youíll most likely never want to go back. If youíre jonesing for some quick twitch gameplay, Dead to Rights II is worth a rental at most, as itís easily digestible and expendable. For anyone who wants an involving story and deep gameplay will be better off looking elsewhere.
- Brad Hicks (Dr. Swank), SwankWorld Media