Dead to Rights: Reckoning is a standard action game that attempts to follow in the footsteps of the console game Dead to Rights II, by offering nothing more than straightforward action. While there's something to be said for a game that cuts to the chase and focuses merely on your ability to lock onto targets and mash the fire button to blast them in the face, Reckoning has shoddy control and some ugly graphical glitches. Its handful of problems really get in the way and make this PSP game short, uninteresting, and not much fun at all.
There's a story somewhere in Dead to Rights: Reckoning, but it's easy to miss and unimportant to boot. Missions begin and end with brief cutscenes that are driven by some text. Speech, obviously, would have been better at conveying this message. The text has something to do with a hostage that needs rescuing, and then at some point you switch from shooting Triad gangsters in the face to shooting armored militia members in the face. But considering the drudgery of Reckoning's gameplay, none of this really matters much.
Enter an area, shoot everyone you see, wait for a few more rounds of guys to spawn, shoot them too, and then move on. That, really, is everything the game has to offer. Oh, there's an occasional boss fight, too. Here, you'll have a boss that has a much longer life meter than the average thug. He's also a coward and will run away after taking some damage. So the process is to shoot the boss, watch the cutscene where he runs away, and shoot all the regular bad guys that spawn, and then when the boss reappears, repeat the entire process. Occasionally you'll find some body armor or health recovery items, which come in handy.
Dead to Rights: Reckoning has a lot in common with Dead to Rights II in terms of gameplay. The post-John Woo, post-Max Payne guns akimbo and diving rules are in play here, so you can do more damage by diving around in slow motion than you can by lining up a decent shot. The game uses lock-on targeting that often moves directly from one target to the next, so taking down enemies is usually an exercise in holding down buttons. However, most of the weapons in the game are ridiculously overpowered. At point-blank range, some enemies will still take 10 or more shots from a submachine gun. That's just crazy, and it makes all of the guns that aren't shotguns feel useless up close, in part because once you're up close, hitting the circle button executes an enemy with a slow-motion disarming animation that essentially shows you killing the guy with his own gun. Other enemies in the vicinity will still be blasting away at you, and even though things seem to be running in slow motion, the enemies' shots seem to ring out at full speed. That, as you might guess, can be extremely damaging. You also have a dog named Shadow. Hitting square with an enemy targeted sends Shadow out to kill that enemy. You can call Shadow out only occasionally, but he comes in handy when you get surrounded.
In addition to the game's immediately repetitive single-player mode, there's also a multiplayer mode for up to four players, locally. This mode is really just a bad idea, given the way the gameplay works. There's no manual aiming, so there's very little room for skill beyond staying out of sight. But the lock-on likes to lock on through walls and other objects, constantly giving away your position to the other players. So, really, it's just a game of who can sneak up behind the other player and hold down the fire button. You unlock more skins and maps by playing the single-player game, but that isn't an incentive to play the single-player or the multiplayer game.
Dead to Rights: Reckoning looks decent at a glance, but before too long, the handful of brutal disarming animations and silly, over-the-top door-opening sequences wear thin and leave you with a very drab-looking game. There are a lot of weird clipping issues, and the in-game characters don't move all that well. The textures are somewhat muddy, and overall, it's merely a fair-looking game.
The game probably could have used some speech. That might have eliminated at least some of its incredibly generic feel. But the audio actually adds to the generic feel. The sound effects are basic, and the music is uninteresting and doesn't stand out in any way. While it's not bad enough to make you want to turn it down, it's not good enough to make you feel bad for doing so.
Straightforward games can often be entertaining. There's something to be said for basic action gaming, provided the different aspects of the game are absolutely nailed. Dead to Rights: Reckoning doesn't nail any one portion of its design. From the nearly useless multiplayer to the dull single-player gameplay, there's not much worth seeing here.