Dead to Rights: Retribution First Look

Jack Slate and his four-legged pal, Shadow, are back to tear the bad guys apart in this reimagining of the original Namco action game.

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Namco's upcoming Dead to Rights: Retribution is a reimagining of the original Dead to Rights, which was released in 2002 for the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox. That game was notable not just for the kickass ability of its hero, K-9 cop Jack Slate, to handle multiple enemies at once, but also for the presence of Shadow, Slate's canine partner and a formidable character in his own right. This year, Retribution will bring back Slate and Shadow, along with the two-fisted action that made the first game so fun. The developers at Volatile Games are also bringing some new gameplay elements to the table that look to up the action-movie fun of the original.

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Earlier today we got a chance to see Retribution for the first time, and producers showed off two of the levels that show the gamut of action that will be available in the final product. The first level focused on Jack, who, in typical action-movie cop style, was invading a municipal building against orders in order to track down and punish a bunch of criminal types who had taken hostages and were tossing them off the roof. Making his way into the building, it quickly became clear that Jack meant business, taking down the thugs that came his way with an array of bone-breaking punches, kicks, and grabs.

Retribution revels in giving you the ability to dispatch multiple foes, and that system was in full effect in the demo, with Slate giving the business to everyone that came his way. Whether it's grabbing one enemy and then delivering a devastating kick to an enemy behind you, or simply putting down a foe with an M-rated finisher, there are plenty of bloody-good takedowns.

Of course, Retribution won't just feature hand-to-hand combat. Slate will also be proficient with weapons, like shotguns, automated rifles, and pistols. You'll be able to carry two weapons at a time (as well as grenades), and, as with hand-to-hand combat, you'll be able to deliver weapon-based finishers that are just as devastating. Your gun won't be something you keep forever; once you empty your cartridge you can toss the gun, and then you can disarm another opponent and take his weapon. Similarly, later in the game, enemies will be able to disarm you as well.

Jack Slate is good with his fists and good with his guns, but he's also got one other weapon that might be the best of all: his partner in crime fighting, Shadow. One part wolf, one part Alaskan malamute, all parts badass, Shadow is both an AI partner that you'll be able to give orders to in some parts of the game and, in other sections, a fully playable character.

During the demo, we got a chance to see Shadow in action and being controlled by the player. The setup for the scene was simple: Jack, injured in some sort of fight with the bad guys, is unable to defend himself as he and Shadow make their way through a creepy-looking industrial area of town. As Shadow, the player's job is to scout ahead, looking and dispatching danger as an AI-controlled Jack limps his way to safety.

If Jack Slate isn't kicking butt, his K-9 partner Shadow is mopping up the bad guys.
If Jack Slate isn't kicking butt, his K-9 partner Shadow is mopping up the bad guys.

Even though Shadow is a formidable fighter--he can literally savage an enemy with his powerful jaws--he's also vulnerable to gunfire. As a result, when playing as Shadow, your goal will be to remain unseen as much as possible, lay traps for your foes, and generally attack them when they are at their most vulnerable. To emulate how Shadow sees the world, the color scheme of the Shadow levels is drenched in a blue tint (the theory being that dogs don't see color that well), and when the dog is sneaking around (by pressing the left trigger), he can sense the presence of both enemies and friends. Enemies will appear as red outlines when he's sneaking, while allies (like Jack) will be colored gold. This gives you the ability to scope out your foes and plan your attacks, without letting the baddies get too close to Jack. You can also make Shadow bark, which will draw the attention of enemies, allowing you to sneak up on them and attack. Finally, as Shadow, you'll be constantly aware of Jack's presence, which is a good thing, considering that his death means it's game over and you'll need to restart the level.

Of the two levels on display during the demo, the Shadow scenario stood out as tense and different, while the more straight-ahead action involving Slate looks to appeal to fans of shooting first and asking questions later. Or not at all. Nonetheless, producers told us that the different levels in the game will be constantly mixing up the gameplay between the two characters to keep things fresh. Dead to Rights: Retribution is currently due for release in the fourth quarter of this year. We'll be following Slate and Shadow's progress throughout the summer and beyond, so stay tuned.

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