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Dead to Rights: Retribution – first look

Few bonds are closer than that between a man and his dog. Be it delivering the paper, helping a blind man across the street or saving Timmy from a well, they make a great pair. And when it comes to viciously mauling criminal scum, man and K-9 are a capable duo. Just look at Jack Slate and Shadow in the over-the-top action game Dead to Rights: Retribution.

Part of the somewhat forgotten action franchise on the previous hardware generation, Retribution basically starts the series fresh. No-nonsense (meaning delightfully brutal) cop Jack Slate is out to clean up Grant City, one bullet-riddled corpse at a time. He's up against stiff odds, though, as DtR's heightened reality supplies some pretty evil crooks. In the first stage we were shown, Jack approached a hostage situation in which the bad guys were repeatedly kicking people off a balcony dozens of stories up the biggest building in the crime-infested burg.

As Jack began his walk up the many detailed floors to stop these felons, we were introduced to the basic combat mechanics. It started with fisticuffs, as Jack approached some goon and left him have it. His regular punch combos were pretty painful-looking, but then he let loose with the first "Take Down" finisher of the night.

Take Downs are a signature of the series, and they've gone to a new level here. To our shock and delight, it was some harsh justice: first, Jack kneed the man in the face, then broke his leg, sickeningly inverting it at the knee. We were sure that was the end of it, but then Jack let out a kick worthy of a field goal on the poor jerk's face. This was all in slow motion by the way, which multiplied its awesomeness at least twofold.

In one-on-one Jack does pretty well, but when he gets surrounded by three or four, he needs to fight smart. Unlike in the previous DtRs, they don't just throw boatloads of enemies at you; just four can swarm you if you aren't careful. The developers then showed us some ways to get out of the situation, thanks to an intuitive-looking fight mechanic, as Jack easily switched his focus from enemy to enemy. Another way out involved guns, as the firearms portion of the tutorial commenced.

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