Has there ever been a point when you’re looking through your gaming library and wondered, “Huh, whatever happened to this series?” Well, I’ll be taking a look at videogame franchises and the lead up to their eventual absence. With that being said, today I’ll be asking the question: “Whatever Happened to… Dead to Rights?”
Carnage for the sake of carnage. A lot of games will draw in with the story, perhaps the multiplayer, but some will try to bring you in on the idea of causing as much destruction as possible. This can be found in Mercenaries, Just Cause, and, on a more grounded basis, Manhunt. A series that wears the hat of grounded, more physical destruction, with significant pride, is the Dead to Rights franchise. A third-person action shooter based around the concept of bullet time. That brief description aside, what exactly is Dead to Rights all about?
Starting from the beginning, we arrive at the original Dead to Rights released in 2002. At the time, Dead to Rights was another bullet-time shooter for the pile, being overlooked by other, more popular titles during its release. The story itself, coupled with the gameplay, sat well with reviewers as the series kickstarter garnered impressive scores for its first outing. Speaking of which, the story follows an individual by the name of Jack Slate, an edgy cop with so much edge that he could’ve been renamed Jack Edgingtion...ahem… but yes, as well as controlling Jack, the player also had the ability to use a K-9 unit named Shadow. Together, Jack and Shadow worked as an effective pairing and were considered by new fans to be a solid team in-game.
Moving past the first title, we now come to Dead to Rights II, as well as Dead to Rights: Reckoning. The first title mentioned served as a sequel in respects to release, but a prequel in terms of plot. Same would go for Dead to Rights: Reckoning, as it would be a prequel to Dead to Rights II. All prequels and sequels out of the way, though, how did the games do critically? Unfortunately, not all that well. Dead to Rights II would only see mixed reviews as it was panned for its predictable story and short runtime, but somewhat praised for gameplay, even though it didn’t innovate like the first. Dead to Rights: Reckoning would also fare poorly, being an average overall experience and, for the most part, just a handheld version of its sequel. Which is a shame because it wouldn’t be for another five years until a follow-up title would be announced.
Yet, announced it certainly was. Dead to Rights: Retribution was a 2010 reboot of the gun-based bullet time favourite. Retribution’s biggest new mechanic was giving Shadow a much more central role in gameplay. On top of being a reboot, the newest installment was also significantly more violent in a lot of aspects, resulting in a sort of tone switch for the series. The critics, although a bit more lenient, still presented Retribution with mixed reviews. Complimenting Shadow’s bigger role than in previous entries, but stating that the game was just another action title for the shelf. Since then, there has been little to no news surrounding the fate of this franchise. So whatever happened to it?
Well, to take a shot in the dark, I would guess that an abundance of mixed reviews matched with poor sales figures is what most likely did this series in. The gameplay, although entertaining, wasn’t enough to keep Dead to Rights afloat on its own. Will there ever be a new one? It’s always a possibility, but I would highly doubt it. Frankly, here’s hoping I’m wrong, considering that this franchise was, all in all, an enjoyable action shooter experience.