The original Dead to Rights was an enjoyable game, despite its flaws. When the sequel was announced, the hope was that Namco would fix the problems from the first game, and release a polished game that took full advantage of the series' potential. Unfortunately, Dead to Rights II not only fails to improve on the original, it's far less enjoyable. The gameplay is stale, the visuals are bland, and the story is uninteresting.
DTR II again places you in the role of Jack Slate, a veteran cop with a no-nonsense attitude. You know he's got a no non-sense attitude because he will kill lots of bad guys and use dry one-liners. It's videogame cliché #4538 if you're looking it up. It seems that a judge has gotten a little to close to the heart of a crime syndicate, and got himself kidnapped. Since the judge is a friend of your father's, it's up to you to rescue him, and give the city coroner something to do along the way. It's supposed to be cheesy, and if the game were fun, it might hold up, but it just ends up being one more way the game disappoints.
Dead to Rights II's gameplay is all shooting and all action. You control Slate from a third-person view, clearing out room after room of un-intelligent bad guys. The levels are very simple, and after a short while get quite boring – a fact not helped by the constant backtracking you must do. Every time you die, you must do the entire level over again – there are no checkpoints along the way. Since some levels are very easy, only ramping up in difficulty towards the end, you must replay the entire easy part, only to get killed when it gets tough, over and over again. It's very frustrating, and makes the game grow tiresome quickly.
A large arsenal of weapons is available, including pistols, shotguns, machine guns, rocket launchers, and grenades. It really doesn't matter what weapon you have – most of the time picking up what's available and emptying the clip is what works best. The game doesn't reward you for saving your ammo, nor does it challenge you to figure out what gun works best in certain situations. Your trusty canine sidekick, Shadow, is back and can be used to attack enemies and retrieve ammunition. Unfortunately, he's unresponsive and often fails to appear when you need him or accomplish his task. Since he's unreliable, you'll probably end up never using him.
Since multiple bad guys will fill the room at once, you basically pick one to start with, kill him, and then scroll to the next guy. Jack has a variety of ways to disarm and kill opponents, and he can also use them as a human shield; though you'll rarely need to get that creative. The played-out slow-motion bullet-time effect is included and allows you to quickly take out a roomful of enemies with ease.
DTR II uses the ever-popular combination of gritty urban areas and drab interiors. Throw in some neon, and you've got an uninspired, unoriginal looking game. The visuals aren't horrible, but they don't impress in any way. There are a fair amount of death animations for the bad guys, but there are only a few different character designs, so you end up seeing the same guys die several different ways. Many objects, like cars, barrels, and bottles can be destroyed, but it would have been nice to have more destructible objects.
The game's camera is lousy and must constantly be fought. Enemies will shoot from off-screen, and the camera's orientation often makes it tough to figure out where you are headed and where you came from.
If you're deaf, don't worry, you're not missing anything here. The music is uninspired, and the dialog is downright laughable. Characters scream out profanity for no apparent reason, and the cut-scenes…let's just say they aren't going to use these as an argument to increase the salaries of voice actors.
If you're into mindless shooting and action, Dead to Rights II might be a pleasant weekend diversion. However, if you're looking for a game that improves on the original, delivers an interesting story, varied gameplay, and is worth $50, you need to look elsewhere.