Dead to Rights II: Hell to Pay Q&A

We talk to Namco about the upcoming follow-up to its film noir-inspired action game.


Dead to Rights II: Hell to Pay is Namco's upcoming follow-up to its original third-person action game Dead to Rights. The stylish film noir-inspired game hit consoles in 2002, and a PC version followed last year. The game cast you in the role of Jack Slate, a police officer who was framed for murder just after the death of his father, and it followed Jack's quest to clear his name and find out who killed his father.

It'll be hell to pay for Jack Slate's enemies in Dead to Rights II.
It'll be hell to pay for Jack Slate's enemies in Dead to Rights II.

While Dead to Rights wasn't perfect, there were several promising components to its gameplay--such as Jack's dog, Shadow (who often helped you out in tight spots) and a variety of minigames--that made for the solid beginnings of a new franchise. For the follow-up, Dead to Rights II: Hell to Pay, Jack is back and is still apparently not in a good mood as he deals with the criminal element in Grant City. We talked to Pierre Roux, the producer of the upcoming PlayStation 2 and Xbox game, to find out what to expect from Jack's further misadventures.

GameSpot: Where are you in development right now?

Pierre Roux: The game has been in development for about a year and is going well. We're continuing to refine some of the mechanics as we move along in order to make it a solid game when it ships this fall.

GS: What can you tell us about DTRII's story?

PR: Jack is back in Grant City and once again has to deal with the worst criminals that the town has to offer. Expect to see more betrayal, more violence, and, of course, more casualties.

GS: What will be familiar in the game to fans of the original?

PR: Jack will be accompanied once again by his K-9 companion, Shadow. You can also expect to see some of the old characters from Dead to Rights, some as friends and some enemies. Most of the mechanics from the previous Dead to Rights have been kept and are being improved, from the deadly disarm to the 360-degree diving and targeting. Wall mode, toss and shoot, precision shooting, minigames, and human shields are also being improved to refine the gaming experience.

GS: What's new in this year's game?

All of Jack's old tricks are back and better than before.
All of Jack's old tricks are back and better than before.

PR: More weapons and the ability to fight with melee weapons such as knives, baseball bats, 2x4s, chainsaws, etc. Jack can also now climb over certain objects, introducing new high-ground gameplay. We've also introduced a bigger variety of enemies, each with their own behavior and specific look, to keep the game interesting and challenging. A new gameplay system is being introduced as well, arcade mode: The player can play certain levels of the game to amass points by pulling off cool moves and killings.

GS: How did feedback from last year's game affect development?

PR: The team really listened to all the feedback, and we've been working hard to maintain and improve the elements that made DTR fun to play, while introducing new gameplay mechanics that we think will make DTRII an even better experience. We've improved the camera controls, the look of the character, and the animations, to name a few.

GS: Will there be any online components to the game?

PR: There won't be any online play, but the player will be able to unlock secret costumes and download new locations.

GS: Will there be any content that's exclusive to the specific platforms the game is coming out on?

PR: We won't have exclusive content for each platform, but we are creating a solid game no matter what platform you play on.

GS: What can you tell us about the graphics engine?

The game uses an all-new graphics engine to power its enhanced visuals.
The game uses an all-new graphics engine to power its enhanced visuals.

PR: The team has been working hard to create a new engine for DTRII that will improve the gaming experience. The improvements are drastic--more polygons, more realistic lights and shadows, more characters onscreen. From performance to look, yes, the engine has improved quite a lot.

GS: What can we expect to see at E3?

PR: We will have a fully playable level available at E3, as well as a really cool intro cinematic done by Attitude Studio. In the level, you'll see the art and engine improvements that the team has been working on, as well as the new level interaction and wider array of weapons that are available to Jack. The player will have to fight his way through a dark, rainy alley against smarter AI while performing more violent disarms than previously seen and taking on enemies from all sides using the new 360-degree diving system.

GS: Thanks for your time.

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