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Dead to Rights: Reckoning: Small Screen Justice
Company: Namco

After kicking ass on both the Xbox and PS2, Namco's tough-as-nails cop, Jack Slate is bringing his guns, martial arts and dog to the PSP in Dead to Rights: Reckoning.

Right off the bat Reckoning is already an original offering on Sony's sleek black handheld. For a system that has seen more than it's fair share of ports, few action games have found their way to the system, making Reckoning the first of its kind on the handheld. However, Reckoning is a little more than just a port of a past game and brings both an original story and a faster-paced gameplay style designed specifically for the handheld market. Jack is also bringing a few new tricks along for the ride, including a reworked camera system, something that should have fans of the series jumping for joy.

Dead to Rights: Reckoning is a prequel to the original game and finds Jack in pursuit of a group of thugs responsible for the kidnapping of a high-ranking official's daughter. Jack's assignment soon goes from bad to worse, and Jack soon finds himself going up against one of the biggest gangs in Grant City and their notorious crime lord Whisper.

The console versions of Dead to Rights offered a slew of mini-game and side diversions designed to make the game a much longer experience. When bringing the game to the PSP, it has to cater to a whole new style of on-the-go gamers who might not have the time to spend going through tons of mini-games and other content just to get to the game's core shooting elements. Because of this, Reckoning is going for more of a fast-paced, arcade style shooter. The core concept is that you'll always be doing something and not wasting time running through halls searching for things or controlling strippers (sorry guys...) The only real breaks from the action will come during brief story interludes. A large part of the "always on" action is the new camera system, which will keep focused on the action with limited input from the player. Limited wiggle room will be available for those who want a little more control, but the camera will largely be an automated experience.

Another way Namco is pushing the arcade action is through a point-scoring combo system. The quicker you take down enemies, the more points you'll add to your combo chain. Points will also be granted for pulling off other moves like disarms or diving shots. The game will include about 16 disarm moves for Jack to use, including one that allows him to wrestle with a foe in bullet-time. And, just in case you thought he'd stayed behind, Jack's dog Shadow can also be used as a special weapon of sorts. Unlike past games, where you had a little more control over his actions, Shadow has now become a one-hit kill move Jack can use during gunfights. In order to keep gameplay balanced, you have limited use of Shadow during gameplay, meaning you'll have to think about when to best use Shadow.

The more points you earn through combos and special moves, the more items you'll be able to unlock in the main menu. Producer Bryan Chu was tight-lipped about what you'll be able to unlock, though he did reveal that one mode would put Jack and his foes in super-deformed mode, giving them bigger heads, hands and feet. Expect to see the usual unlockable items like invincibility and unlimited ammo.

Reckoning also makes use of the PSP's WiFi capabilities by including a four-player multiplayer mode. Multiplayer games are limited to local network play (meaning, no Internet play) and follow the typical deathmatch format. Nearly every character found in the main game will be useable in multiplayer games.

Dead to Rights provided not-stop action for the Xbox and PS2, and so far it looks like the PSP version is on track to provide the same run and gun arcade-style action on the PSP. Look for an in-depth review in the coming weeks.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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