Dead to Rights: Retribution • Page 2

One man and his dog.

He's talking about the sections of the game where you play as Jack, of course - Shadow may be able to gnaw off a mansnake quicker than a human can remove the wrapper from a Cheestring, but he still can't hold a gun. In the level being demoed today, Jack is in the middle of a fight between the police and some pesky Triads. He takes cover behind a car and peeks out to fire off a few rounds, then runs straight up to a baddie and starts battering him with some impressive combos.

This demonstrates how easy it is to switch from shooting to hand-to-hand fighting, says Jele. But why bother trying to kill people with high kicks when you've got a gun? "There are situations when the enemy is surrounding you, and the gun is not the best weapon to use. Or if you run out of ammunition, you have to run in and start fighting them."

A quick hands-on play reveals he's right about how simple it is to switch. The controls are intuitive and the fighting moves are powerful, you don't immediately feel impossibly vulnerable if you run out of ammo. It's easy to take out baddie after baddie using just Jack's hands and feet, though Jele says they've lowered the difficulty level specifically for this demo. They want people testing it out not to worry too much about winning each battle and be free to focus on the finer details.

"Basically we said, 'OK, we know how a good third-person shooter works, how a good third-person fighting game works. Let's put them all in the same system, and try to improve single bits here and there.'" And put a dog in?

"And put a dog in! The point is, it's about small refinements. For instance, instead of a jump over cover, if there's an enemy on the other side it becomes a kick over cover; you land with your feet on their face. You know, small additions that are going to make a game better. But really, the true selling-point of this game is going to be the unique and seamless integration of the systems."

Come now, parkour in videogames is so very Y2K8.

And the dog. Whether you're cracking skulls or popping caps, Shadow is there to sick balls at your command. He's dead clever, says Jele, and will adjust his behaviour according to how you're playing. If you're taking cover and sneaking around, he'll do the same; if you're going all-out in full combat he'll run ahead and take down as many baddies as he can. Or you can manually set Shadow on enemies with a single button press.

Anyone would thing you'd been spending a lot of time with Peter Molyneux, Imre. "I'm actually a big fan of Fable II, but obviously our game is very different," he says. "This is an M-rated game so we wanted to go with a more vicious, animalistic portrayal of a dog. Shadow is an attack dog, a fighting machine; he's not a cutesy lapdog."

So what have been your other inspirations? Turner and Hooch? "Haha! Again, I don't think that would be the right inspiration for us. It's not that kind of a relationship." Movie producers might want to take a look at Retribution, though - who wouldn't want to watch a remake where Hooch devours a drug dealer's genitals before getting off with Tom Hanks?

In the meantime, there's Dead to Rights: Retribution. The game's not out till next year so there's still at least six months left for polishing - which has to be a good thing. The visuals aren't too impressive; the colour palette is an awkward blend of murky and gory, the environments are dull and the villains are generic factory-made goons. The whole thing looks a bit dated compared to the pretty action-adventure games that are proving so popular these days.

Good job he remembered to put that gas mask on.

But who knows? Gritty urban third-person shooters might have fallen out of favour but there's still a market for them, and now there's less competition. Jele's certainly not worried: "We like to say this game puts the boot in reboot. We looked at the original game and said, 'OK, there are some fantastic ideas here. Let's take those but introduce them to a whole new audience,'" he says.

"Obviously gaming as a whole has moved on, and there are a lot of ideas which feel dated today. So we want to make sure we keep the good elements but offload the dated elements, and create a brand new version of the game." One in which you can be the dog, don't forget. Woof.

Dead to Rights: Retribution will be released in early 2010 for PS3 and Xbox 360.

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About the author

Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson


Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.


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