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PSP Review - 'Dead to Rights: Reckoning'

by Thomas Leaf on Aug. 2, 2005 @ 1:06 a.m. PDT

The Dead to Rights series finally makes its move to the PSP, with an all-new storyline set before the events of the original game. Dead to Rights: Reckoning brings the fast-paced action of an intense FPS into portable form, with wireless multiplayer and a gripping single-player campaign.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Namco
Release Date: June 28, 2005

Buy 'DEAD TO RIGHTS: Reckoning': PSP

Double-Fisted Firefights on the Go!

I love my PSP. So what if there are like three games out there worth buying for the runt of Sony's litter? The question is this: Is Dead to Rights: Reckoning worth adding to that meager list of worthwhile titles for the starving handheld? Do you think I'm going to answer that question right now? Silly child. Read on.

Dead to Rights is a somewhat storied franchise making its way across various platforms, and it takes its cues from grim action thriller games like Max Payne. In Dead to Rights, you play the hard-bitten street cop Jack Slade who fights crime with the help of his trusty canine Shadow. Sounds good enough. I like dogs. I also like hopping around in slow-mo bullet time blasting thugs with pistols akimbo too. Thankfully enough, Dead to Rights allows me both.

Graphically speaking, Dead to Rights: Reckoning looks quite right on the PSP. Being a third-person action shooter, the wider format screen really allows you to see all the right places, whereas a thinner screen would have looked crowded and not allowed much peripheral vision. In a game like this, being able to see off to the side is crucial. The graphics are great for a handheld, but as we come to see what the PSP can do, the visuals aren't exactly mind blowing. The textures are pretty clean and the models are well animated and textured, but the villains all begin to resemble each other. Level design is straightforward as you move your way from "room" to "room" and activate the next room by kicking down a gate or door. The sound and music is not remarkable. Gunshots vary in tenor in respect to caliber, and the music is an action movie loop. Not exactly enthralling, but not distracting either. What I noticed was that there isn't any voice acting in this game, which kind of threw me back into an old-school frame of mind.

One of the coolest features of Dead to Rights: Reckoning is the multiplayer capability. You can use the PSP's wireless connection to make some death-matching fun with all of your friends…provided they also have a PSP and Dead to Rights: Reckoning. Hmmm… Yeah, I would have tested this out, if I had any friends who owned a PSP, let alone this game. With that in mind, the latency issues and maps were not privy to my perusal, but this feature marks the future of PSP gaming. This sort of gameplay evolution makes the prospect of the PSP exciting because if first-generation PSP titles like this are doing wireless multiplayer gameplay, then imagine what we'll have in the near future.

My one real complaint with Dead to Rights: Reckoning is the controls. The directional buttons are used to select weapons and targets, while the analog stick moves Jack. The analog stick functions well; however, targeting specific enemies requires you to take your thumb off of the analog stick and tap the up directional button, which means you stop moving. While this might not be crucial in the solo game, I imagine it could cause some major frustration in multiplayer sessions. I didn't like having to stop, select a new target and then continue moving while shooting. Things get even more frustrating as you can change control schemes, but you cannot re-map the buttons. Had I been able to re-map that one button command, I would've found Dead to Rights much easier to play and enjoy.

All in all, Dead to Rights: Reckoning is not going to go down as one of my all-time favorites, but I enjoyed it. With a veritable dirt of PSP software Dead to Rights: Reckoning looks pretty good, though I cannot help but think that if there were more titles to choose from or compare to, Dead to Rights: Reckoning would fall somewhere in the vanilla middle of the fold. Sure, it has exciting slow-mo dives, and using your trusty dog to maul people or disarm your foes is fun, but the basic gameplay mechanics of move to room, shoot everyone, move to next room is pretty dated. In theory, the multiplayer death-matching is awesome, but in practice? Try and find another PSP buddy with this game, and you're in luck. Otherwise, you're on your own. At the end of the day, Dead to Rights: Reckoning is a good time but ultimately a forgettable time. This is fun for the bus ride, but not much else … then again, what else are handhelds for?

Score: 7.8/10

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