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Dead To Rights: Retribution

Sorry, Florence: the dog days are just beginning...

If you're going to be in a hostage situation, it might as well be a good one. You don't want to be held up by namby-pamby
kidnappers who say it will 'be alright'. No, it won't: we're missing Come Dine With Me for this. Piss someone's brains up against the wall, or get off the pot.

Luckily, the masterminds behind the hostage situation during Dead To Rights: Retribution's first full level are more of the Killing Zoe variety. The first sight you see as you descend upon the scene is a goon blithely tossing a woman off the 18th floor of a skyscraper. Later on, they send the trapped occupants of a lift tumbling to their doom, just because they can. These are people you'd be proud to call your kidnappers. The second thing you'd want is a proper rescue, because 40-minute telephone negotiations are duller than Coldplay's holiday snaps.


Enter returning bad cop, Jack Slate, his face a crimson mask from an earlier scrap down at the docks. He hands his badge and gun over to his commanding officer and strolls right in through the front door. A gruff hero, an ineffectual police force and criminals more vile than a nutsack sandwich. Forget straight-to-DVD - Dead To Rights' plot is more straight-to-The-Sun-freebie, but it brings with it a cheeky charm that helps you overlook the fact that it's a dated third-person shooter remarkable only for its unremarkableness.

Slate enters the scene empty-handed but not for long; he can 'borrow' an enemies' firearm by strolling up to them and pressing A, although for obvious reasons (they're shooting at you!), it's not as easy as we've made it sound. Bullets are scarce here; the solution is to take out targets with a headshot, wherever possible, to conserve what little ammo you have. If you run out, which you frequently will, you'll have to break cover to scoop up a discarded gun, send your dog to recover it, or if all else fails, approach an armed opponent. Fortunately, Jack's a bit tasty when it comes to close-quarters combat. Holding down a and x while engaging an enemy will initiate a 'clinch' manoeuvre, upon which you take him hostage (irony!), allowing you to make headway towards your targets as your captive's chums hold their fire.

Retribution is a game with many flaws. Between the undeveloped AI, the repetitive soundbites, and confused level design, it feels like a game that might have held water six years ago, but not in 2010. It is enjoyable in the rough and ready way budget gaming can be, but for £40, you might feel you've been sold the runt of the litter.