Dead to Rights Hands-On Impressions

Hip Games is bringing Namco's console action game to the PC. We've got a hands-on report.

We recently had the opportunity to try out an early version of Dead to Rights, the upcoming PC port of Namco's third-person action game that was previously released on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube consoles last year. Canadian publisher Hip Games is bringing the graphic, action-packed, game to the PC, and, from what we've seen so far, most of the original game seems intact.

In Dead to Rights, you play as detective Jack Slate, a K-9 cop who works a beat in a corrupt metropolis known as Grant City. On a routine assignment to a construction site, Slate pulls up to the scene with his trusty dog Shadow only to find that someone very close to him has been murdered. He swears revenge against the most likely suspect and goes on a one-man rampage.

Like many console action games, Dead to Rights is played mostly from a third-person perspective, with the option to take a manual first-person view. And, like many console action games, Dead to Rights doesn't require you to draw a bead on your targets, since you can use an auto-aim button to lock on to your targets instead. The default PC control scheme uses the left mouse button to fire and the right mouse button to auto-aim. It seems to work well enough, as does Slate's diving ability, which lets him leap forward, backward, and/or to the side. As in the console versions of the game, you can also press and hold the dive button (the space bar, by default) to go into slow-motion mode. This slows down Jack's enemies, but it lets him aim and fire in real time.

Jack has pretty much all of his abilities from the console games, including the ability to call his dog, Shadow, to sneak into tight places. Jack can also put away his guns and fight his enemies with fists, feet, and a few handy grapples. While unarmed, Slate can run up to an enemy and press the "use" key to disarm him (and kill him outright). While he's packing heat, pressing the use key near an enemy, instead, causes Jack to grab the thug by the throat so he can use him as a human shield to soak up incoming fire. He can also activate the use key on various interactive items, like fire extinguishers. Jack can then hurl these fire extinguishers at enemies, quickly auto-aim, and fire at the devices to make them explode and destroy groups of enemies. Additionally, Slate can use items like locks. He can pick them by engaging in a simple minigame during which he must line up a series of rotating tumblers. As in the original game, picking locks isn't the only minigame in Dead to Rights. For instance, in one part of the game, you must play as a dancer in a strip club. You must match patterns in time to the music--to distract a group of thugs--while Slate moves in.

Like so many other console-to-PC ports, Dead to Rights uses a keyboard-and-mouse control scheme that resemembles that of a first-person shooter. You use the WASD keys to move, though, as in many other console ports, the A and D keys actually cause you to move left or right--like a console controller. The PC version seems to have all of the game's verbose voice-over intact, including Slate's moody soliloquies, which bear more than a passing resemblance to those of Rockstar Games' Max Payne. However, the early version of the game we played seemed to have some graphical glitches, including an occasional problem that caused onscreen characters to randomly twitch. It could apparently stand to use more high-resolution textures for its otherwise plain-looking characters, but, hopefully, the folks at Hip Games will clean up these issues before the game ships for the PC this November.

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