E3 2001 Hands-onDead to Rights

We play Namco's Dead to Rights.

At a meeting with Namco earlier this evening, we got to play Dead to Rights--the company's frantic action game. In it, you play the role of an ex-cop who's framed for murder. As logic would dictate, this role involves much shooting, jumping, and strangling.

The first mission we played through set us outside of a large industrial complex. Many obstacles dotted the landscape, mainly crates and other obtrusions to hide behind--exactly the sort of environment the game's control scheme thrives in. Pressing the triangle button lets you leap, and you can control the direction you leap with the left analog stick. You can also shoot while leaping--the act of doing so, in fact, is what defines the game's primary action. If you press back while shooting, for instance, your character leaps backward and fires his weapons. Leaping to the side is also a common tactic; you can leap from the safety of an obstacle directly behind another one and let off a few shots in the process.

To make such a dynamic game mechanic feasible, the game shifts into slow motion while you're jumping. The effect this achieves is almost Matrix-like, and it lets you press the appropriate buttons to effectively execute your desired attack.

Your character also has a whole mess of fancy hand-to-hand attacks at his disposal. He strangles enemies by sneaking up on them, and he can disarm them if they're holding a weapon. Disarming is particularly cool--if it's executed ideally. You can take your enemy's firearm from his hand and shoot him with it. The attack brings with it a good deal of style--not only do you eliminate an enemy, but you also acquire a tool with which to eliminate more.

As you'd imagine, the mission we played involved much leaping, shooting, and strangling. Enemies littered the floor as well as higher ground--we had to fight and disarm thugs on the ground, only to shoot down gunners firing from towers and windows with the weapons we acquired. There was no shortage of firepower, though--most enemies would drop weapons when defeated--and the game lets you pack two pistols to boot. Namco's claim that the game was inspired by the visual dynamism of Hong Kong action films wasn't unsubstantiated. At any rate, the scene shifted after that mission, and we found ourselves in a battle to the death with two stealthy twins. The scene was essentially identical, though--a room filled to the brim with crates. Only this time, rather than a gang of mindless thugs, two women of brutal agility were trying to kill us. We had to match their dexterity to survive the battle. What transpired was, again, much shooting and even more leaping.

Even at this relatively early stage, the game's control scheme seems very engaging. It brings with it the tension of Winback but offers the type of immediately engaging gameplay that it lacked. Our only hopes are that the environments in the final game end up being more inspired than those we've seen. We'll have more information for you soon.

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