Arguably where 1989 classic Turner & Hooch lost points was in Tom Hanks' inability to command his canine police partner to enter a warehouse and violently remove a dozen men from their genitals, gliding from crook to crook like some hairy angel of impromptu castration.
Dead to Rights: Retribution features a cop-and-dog duo capable of just such mass neutering - there's even, as you might have already heard, a 'Scrotality' Achievement for munching your first criminal nut. Hooray for videogames.
It's not all crotch chomping, though, the third-person shooter follows angry policeman Jack Slate and his even angrier policedog Shadow through the murder-addled dockyards, trainyards and dockyards again of Grant City, on a revenge-fuelled hunt for the chap who shot his dad in a cutscene near the beginning. Rather than relying on meticulous and extensive detective work, Slate instead opts to hide behind any number of waist-high obstacles, shooting from behind cover and ordering his faithful pet to attack nearby perps.
Sans mutt this is a shooter of the most ordinary calibre. Jack can disarm enemies in a pleasing way, his crosshair coming to rest naturally on his opponent's head for a quick, follow-up headshot. When ammunition fails him he falls back on a rudimentary combat system based around mashing the Y and B buttons until the opportunity to enact a violent takedown presents itself - usually a bone-snapping wrestling move or a couple of rounds to the knees. There's some version of bullet-time here too, charged by blood-letting and inappropriate thoughts.
Wonderdog Shadow even gets a few of his own missions, usually stealth-based and requiring you to elicit muted woofs to draw enemies towards you. While sneaking, Shadow's senses become so finely honed as to detect both heartbeats and dog-sized holes in fences, allowing him to get the drop on unsuspecting victims.
Otherwise, when you're not in control of Shadow, you're pointing him at bad men and guns and having him kill and fetch. He'll also bark at evidence. He's basically Lassie crossed with Magnum P.I (and just like Tom Selleck, his idle animations include peeing and rolling around on the floor. Stand still long enough and he'll do both on the same spot, worryingly.)
After the plot's dragged you through your fifth darkened warehouse some serious frustrations bound into view. The binding of 'take cover' and 'sprint' to the same face button more often than not has you sprinting merrily past cover and into enemy fire. The AI of gunless enemies inspires them to run towards you with cartwheeling fists, determined to ignore the hails of gunfire raining down on their soft, vulnerable flesh.
And on a basic level, shooting baddies just doesn't massage the excitement gland: a lack of auto-aim makes headshots fiddly, enemies absorb too much damage before they drop, and Slate's seeming inability to fire on enemies standing /right-bloody-next/ to him is such a contrived means of forcing you into melee combat as to thoroughly enrage.
Little changes as you progress along linear tracts of vaguely industrial scenery save some slight variations in the enemies you face. Triads and street gangs turn into secret government agency forces, but both use the identical tactics of either firing from behind cover or jogging towards you for a punching session. High-falutin' concepts such as flanking and teamwork are beyond even the most military-minded of opponents, instead they earn the ability to prevent you disarming them until you've pummelled their guts into submission.
The few saving graces offered by the inclusion of a scrotum-seeking pooch do little to alleviate the more fundamental problems the game faces as a third person shooter. Dead to Rights: Retribution is a load of balls in exactly the way Volatile Games didn't intend.
Fiddly, repetitive, and visually underwhelming
- It's got a nice dog
- Takedown are gloriously violent
- Fiddly controls
- Wonky camera
- Hugely repetitive