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Dead to Rights: Retribution – first look

Though Jack always has a handgun with him, the action only really began when he disarmed a man carrying an automatic shotgun. As Jack began to fire away, enemies dropped like flies. And if any got close, Jack quickly shifted from hand-to-hand and firearms and back with a button press. The shooting didn't look all that exact, but given the close quarters of the fights we saw, it didn't have to be.

On top of just shooting, gunplay opened up other possibilities. It enabled Jack to use the cover system, which seemed similar to many other action games, except that Jack's fast reflexes mean he can immediately jump out of it and kick someone in the face. He can also take human shields, which was also in the older DtR games, but he has much freer movement now. And obviously there are gun Take Downs, with the one we saw involving a man beaten to the ground, held to the floor and then shot in the face with a shotgun. Truly a sight to behold.

The next level we saw was one built around Shadow. Previously, Shadow's doggy help came out of nowhere; he was basically a special move that leapt out, killed a guy and disappeared. But this area in Retribution was all Shadow, with players controlling the half-wolf pooch and clearing out the bad guys so an ailing Jack can recover.

Shadow had a few ways of dispatching the baddies. One straightforward approach involved just running at a guy, knocking him down and ripping his jugular out. But using his heightened senses, he can also sneak up on guys and silently dispose of them. How's he keep them quiet? By immediately putting his jaws over their mouth and snapping their neck, silly. But our favorite attack involved him running as fast as he could and bowling over the bad guys like a Mack truck over a deer. It was insanely impossible in the best way.

Dead to Rights hasn't been an artistic series, but for its time it had all the cheap, violent thrills you could want. Retribution seems to continue the tradition, only with much improved production values and style. By its fall release, we hope to see it add even more depth, specifically to the buddy-cop relationship between Jack and Shadow. It’s hard to imagine a better friendship than one that involves violently killing perps without Mirandizing them.

May 1, 2009

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