Dead To Rights
If you're looking for a unique twist on the single-player PC shooter, then Dead to Rights is worth your while.
Dead to Rights is about a K-9 cop named Jack Slate, who does what he can to keep the peace in a criminal cesspool called Grant City. At the beginning of the game, Slate and his trusty dog Shadow are investigating a mysterious construction site. There, Slate discovers that someone very close to him has been murdered. Against direct orders, he sets off to find some answers and to seek revenge. The story, as told through Jack's deadpan narration and the occasional CG cutscene, seems pretty straightforward at first. During the course of the game, however, it actually takes some decent twists and eventually becomes quite involving. The best that can be said for it is that, unlike most stories in games, this one does a commendable job of tying up all its loose ends before the credits roll.
Superficially, Dead to Rights unquestionably resembles Max Payne. This is mostly because that game, like Dead to Rights, is clearly inspired by a certain breed of action movies, the most notable of which is probably The Matrix. Like Max Payne, Dead to Rights is the tale of a fugitive cop who's apparently fighting alone in his war against a sinister, corrupt organization. Even the game's respective main characters have a lot in common. Their names sound alike, their dialogue is hammy and melodramatic, they shrug off bullet wounds, they shoot rapidly with two pistols at once, and when they leap through the air, all the action around them slows down. That's a lot of similarities, but that's also where the similarities end.
Dead to Rights plays differently from Max Payne--and from most other action games, for that matter. Most of the game consists of third-person action sequences in which Slate has to gun down countless foes before reaching his next objective. Just as the plot in Dead to Rights offers up a few surprises, so does the gameplay. Simple yet inventive minigames frequently figure into the action, as Slate will have to do all kinds of things, from disarming bombs to lifting weights to picking locks. These minigames rely on precise timing and/or button mashing, and they make for fun diversions. Also, Slate will have to fight unarmed in a number of sequences. Fortunately, he can switch to unarmed combat in the middle of a gunfight.
There's a lot to say about the action in Dead to Rights because Slate is a versatile fighter. He can carry a number of different firearms at once, and the game features a wide selection of real-world pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and more. He'll typically salvage these from fallen foes, but he wastes no time reloading, opting instead to coolly toss aside depleted weapons. Aiming in Dead to Rights is automatic. You just press and hold the right mouse button, and Slate will draw a bead on the closest foe. Once that enemy goes down, you press the right mouse button again to find your next target. You can also opt to manually aim from a first-person perspective. This rarely figures into play, though you'll sometimes need to do so when using sniper rifles.
We experienced a major bug in the first level of the game, which prevented us from playing any further. Publisher Hip Games quickly addressed the problem with a patch, and the rest of the time we spent with the game was spent without incident. Or, rather, it was spent without any additional technical foibles, as the game itself is full of "incidents" and pure action. Though Dead to Rights looks like a watered-down port of an aging console game (in fact, its looks were never its strong suit), its gameplay still holds up and survives the translation intact. It's not just another cookie-cutter shooter but plays differently in a number of key ways. So if you're looking for a unique twist on the single-player PC shooter, then Dead to Rights is worth your while.