Video Game / Dead to Rights

I'm Jack Slate, bitch!
The protagonist of the series

A series of third-person shooter games, published by Namco and developed by Namco HomeTek that combined (or tried to) gunplay and hand-to-hand combat.

The first game from 2002 follows the story of Jack Slate, a tough-as-nails Cowboy Cop with a canine companion, who delves deeply into Grant City's criminal underbelly after his father's murder and his subsequent arrest for killing the guy who did it (he was framed). What follows is a mad-cap adventure filled with snark as Jack fights his way through an entirely corrupt system full of strange, quirky bosses.

The next installment in the series came out in 2005, but despite bearing the name Dead To Rights II, it was actually a Prequel. Shortly thereafter Dead to Rights: Reckoning, a prequel to the prequel, was released for the PSP.

The franchise received an obligatory Darker and Edgier Continuity Reboot in the form of Dead To Rights: Retribution by Volatile Games in 2010, and, aside from a couple of Mythology Gags, it features a completely different story from the original.

Has a Characters page.

This video game series provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: The first game kills off nearly all of its cast. The only major characters to survive are Jack Slate, Shadow, and Kip Waterman.
  • Artistic License Martial Arts/Informed Ability: In Retribution, Frank Slate is claimed to be a Police Boxing Champion and has sparring sessions with his son, Jack. However, during said sparring sessions, both are using elbow strikes, knee strikes, and even kicks, all of which are prohibited in boxing. In actual gameplay, Jack is using a fighting style similar to Krav Maga more than anything.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The Twins in the original game appear to just be talking backwards.
  • Atrocious Alias: The Prison Episode is full of inmates with intimidating nicknames...and Timmy.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Hennessey and Pinnacle. Pinnacle deserves special mention for essentially being a cross between the Kingpin and an evil version of Mike Haggar.
  • Awesome McCool Name: One of the end-level bosses is named Longshoreman X.
  • Badass: Jack Slate without question. Redwater himself in Retribution even calls him one.
    Redwater: I need more badasses like you on my team.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: Hennessey and the GAC squad.
  • Bag of Spilling: Exaggerated in the first game, where not only does Jack lose all his weapons in-between chapters even if he's just going straight from one location to another one next-door, but the game will go out of its way to get him to drop everything during a chapter. There's even one Egregious scene during the Chinatown chapter where Jack is ambushed by police and drops his weapons right before a gang of Triads gun them down. This cutscene serves absolutely no purpose than to get Jack to lose all his weapons just in time for the next batch of armed mooks to attack.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The first game has Mayor Pinnacle, Prince Fahook, and Police Chief Hennessey as the head figures in the conspiracy behind the death of Jack's father and the demise of pretty much every single one of Jack's allies over the course of the game. All three are in cahoots, but have their own separate agendas.
  • Big Friendly Dog: In Retribution, Shadow acts like this towards anybody who isn't an enemy.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Retribution, oh so very much. The original was mostly Bloodless Carnage and Jack's takedowns while still violent are more designed to imitate the graceful gunplay of John Woo movies. Retribution's takedowns on the other hand are downright sadistic, from Jack shooting a guy's kneecaps and then executing him after he begs for his life to Shadow mauling an enemy violently and ripping off his scrotum. Blood and gore is anywhere. Case in point: a still of Jack vaporizing a thug's face with a gunshot is the brightness adjustment screen.
  • Bond One-Liner: Jack tries to use these in the original games, usually with less then stellar results. In Retribution, he mostly trades these in for angry profanity.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Fahook carries around a bottle of "magic potion" that he can use to restore his health, and also breath fire.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Jack can grab a man to use as a shield. Okay, morally questionable, but within the boundaries of 1980s action movie logic. Unfortunately, there's no "knock out the bad guy" or "handcuff the bad guy" option. Instead of releasing them, Jack just casually shoots them in the back of the head.
    • Retribution lets him cuff perps and use them as mobile shields, then kick them away. Oddly enough, if they don't die, the cuffs disappear and they try to beat Jack up hand-to-hand.
  • Bull Fight Boss: In the original, Hennessey's first phase has him charge you with an electrified riot shield.
  • Camera Screw: The camera in the original game tends to point at the least useful position after a cutscene, especially bad when said cutscene is immediately followed by a shooting segment.
  • Canine Companion: Shadow. In the original game, he wasn't a "partner" so much as a special move you could activate to instantly kill a bad guy and retrieve his gun. In Dead To Rights: Retribution, Shadow follows you around during fights and can sneak around to rip into enemies.
  • Cardboard Prison: Exaggerated to some pretty strange extents in the first game. Jack still has to orchestrate a breakout, but in the meantime every prisoner is allowed to just wander the halls without supervision (even death row inmates like Jack,) hold onto keycards to other cell blocks, and get in massive brawls without security breaking up the fight. Hell, one of the security guards even comes to Jack to get him to beat up a particularly tough prisoner to get his girlfriend's photo back.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Inverted in the first game, where Jack's allies are betraying him left and right.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: F-bombs are all over the place in Retribution.
  • Creepy Twins: A pair of them in the original game as part of a timed boss fight.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted in the first game. A building that Jack is in is set on fire at one point, and he has to leave before the air gets too hot to breathe.
    • Played straight in the same level - once Jack reaches the top floor of the building, the temperature gauge inexplicably goes away - despite fighting a boss with a flamethrower on the roof.
    Diabetus: Apparently the temperature on this floor does not exist.
    Slowbeef: Oh hey, you're right ... Once you're on the top floor of a burning building, that's the safest place to be.
  • Cool Plane: Fahook has a bar, a discotheque, a pool and a harem room full of attack prostitutes on his cargo plane. Does this guy even own a house or does he just live in the plane?
  • Cowboy Cop: Jack Slate don't play by the rules, bitch.
    • Oddly enough, in all of the GCPD, he's probably the most honest and uncorrupted cop of them all as well.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Jack was a US Marine before he became a detective. For this reason, his armed and unarmed combat skills are unmatched against regular mooks.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Subtly done, as there are certain cutscenes (most blatantly abused in the Chinatown mission) that provide no purpose other than to get Jack to move to an inconvenient location, throw away his guns just in time for the next wave of armed Mooks to arrive, or to get Jack to provide a lame Bond One-Liner to alert every enemy in the area to his presence.
    • When Jack finally engages Tseng in Retribution, a cutscene plays where Tseng quickly curbstomps Jack with swift blows while dodging every one of Jack's attacks. Justified, as it's the game's way of hinting to counter Tseng's attacks rather than bullrush him.
  • Da Chief: Capt. Inness in Retribution.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jack quips a lot. Whether or not any of his flippant remarks are actually funny is another matter.
  • Disney Villain Death: Redwater in Retribution.
    • Earlier, in the PSP game Reckoning, the final boss ( the so-called female hostage), tries to escape from Slate by diving into the ocean from a lethal height, not to mention the jagged rocks below the cliff.
  • Disposable Woman: Every female character in the first game. One character, an Action Girl hitwoman, gets unceremoniously back-stabbed exactly one chapter after she was introduced, and at the end of your Escort Mission for her, too. Two others betray Jack out of desperation only to be killed soon after in rather-too-conveinent examples of Karmic Death. The game took fridging to a whole new level.
    • Subverted with Faith in Retribution, who gets shot by a GAC sniper halfway through the game, yet manages to survive to the end.
    • There's also Ruby in the second game, and the unnamed kidnapped girl in Reckoning.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The purpose of the Stripper minigame of the first game is for Jack's stripper friend to distract guards so that he can sneak into the building without anyone noticing.
  • The Dreaded: Jack in Retribution. His feat of eliminating every single mook in Temple Tower earned him quite a reputation, catching the attention of one other mook in the Milton scrapyards who was not eager to see him in person.
  • Dummied Out: A very strange case indeed. The PS2 version has a truncated version of Chapter 3 (the prison level) compared to the Xbox version. In the Xbox version a prisoner (called Timmy, apparently) asks you to go beat up Mad Dog and offers you a reward. In the PS2 version you instead are just attacked by Mad Dog for basically no reason, and he drops the card you need. Another mini-boss shortly after, Mac, and the related mission to get a photograph back from him are both cut entirely. To keep the number of cigarette packs even a random enemy encounter is added directly after talking to Wire Boy (who asks you to get 25 packs in the first place) and several more drop from common enemies. In addition, Tattoo's mooks are invincible in the Xbox version and just have more life than normal in the PS2 version, and you immediately get a Game Over for punching out security guards during the escape segment in the Xbox version, while on the PS2 there's no penalty for it.
  • Evil Brit: Rafshoon Diggs. Also a Scary Black Man.
  • Drunken Master: Fahook gets completely sauced when it comes time to fight him, wildly firing off an automatic rifle and using his bottle of "magic potion" to breathe fire. Also Tseng in Retribution is pretty blitzed on cocaine when Jack fights him.
  • Elite Mooks: GAC unit members, who are all heavily armored and armed.
  • Escort Mission: One in the original game, way too many in Retribution
  • Excuse Plot: In contrast to the first game, which had an actual plot with various twists and developments, the second game has essentially an Arcade Game plot which is essentially "Go kill Boss A, who tells you about Boss B. Go kill Boss B, who tells you about Boss C. Etc, until you get to the final boss." The game even lampshades this, with the Judge whose death kicks off the plot being named Judge MacGuffin.
  • Faceless Goons: GAC. Retribution takes it even further with their futuristic weapons to make them basically look like evil space marines in the present day.
  • Fanservice: The Stripper minigame.
    • Subverted, most reviews and the general reaction was met with quite the opposite results.
  • Fauxreigner: Jack theorizes that Fat Chow isn't even actually Asian — though the fact that he can't tell just by looking at the guy casts a little doubt on the assertion.
  • Follow the Leader: The original Dead to Rights was an attempt to copy Max Payne, with limited success. It was, in turn, followed by True Crime: Streets of L.A., which actually had a superior take on the idea of a snarky cop on the edge who mixed martial arts with gunplay, but somehow less memorable overall.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Played with. Fahook is clearly drunk off his ass when you fight him on the plane, but he refers to the bottle he's carrying around and drinking from to recover his health and breathe fire as his "magic potion".
  • Giant Mook: The GAC Tanks and Heavy Support from Retribution.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Several bosses in the original game, like Antorcha and Longshoreman X.
  • Gold Fever: The entire plot of the first game is driven by an underground gold deposit kept hidden from the public, with the Big Bad Ensemble trying to mine and extract the gold in secret. Frank found out about the gold, which is why Hennessey had him killed.
  • Groin Attack: Shadow is way too fond of biting people's crotches.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Mostly played straight in Retribution. Bullets cause as much damage to human flesh, if not less, than unarmed strikes. This is made very apparent when even unarmored enemies can run towards Jack who could be opening fire on them. Even in close range, enemies can swiftly disarm him, forcing Jack to smack them with the weapon, holster it, and resort to slugging it out. The only time firearms are useful is when enemies are distant enough or behind cover and can be killed with shots to the head.
  • Honor Before Reason: Zigzagged when Diggs has Jack at gunpoint in the prison's gas chamber. He can easily just shoot him and be done with it, but Jack making a few jabs at his failed boxing career (due to cheating on his part) convinces Diggs to beat him up in a boxing match instead. But then when Jack gets the upper-hand, he resorts to cheating by grabbing a gas mask and turning on the gas.
  • Hot-Blooded: Jack in Retribution.
  • I Lied: Jack pulls this on Julian Temple in Retribution, after promising to let him walk if he revealed where Redwater was hiding.
  • Idiot Ball: The entire Chinatown level is about finding Marvin Silt, the guy who tried to run you over when you escaped from prison, but failed and then crashed his car into a tree and knocked himself unconscious. The guy who Jack had completely at his mercy right then and there, but decided to just leave him behind and then go shoot up some gangsters to find him again later.
    • Some of the aforementioned Cutscene Incompetence in the Chinatown level has Jack firmly holding onto the ball, such as when he walks into Fat Chow's gambling den and loudly announces his presence to get the whole building to start shooting at him before control is given back to the player.
  • Informed Attribute: Multiple characters in Retribution refer to Jack as "a good cop." One assumes they've never actually seen Jack on the job.
  • Insurmountable Waist High Fence: In the first game, the dance club in level two has no way for Jack to get through the single velvet rope between the entrance hallway and the dance floor. Not even bullet-time jumping over it works, as Jack hits an Invisible Wall. (When Jack gets access to the dance floor by pulling the fire alarm, the velvet ropes disappear.)
  • Intellectual Animal: Lampshaded in Retribution. Shadow is extremely smart for a wolf-malamute mix as he is able to outwit armed henchmen, correctly identify key cards for security gates, and deactivate electric generators (by urinating on them). Since he is controlled by a human player, it is assumed that he has human intelligence.
    Jack: I swear that dog understands English. It's damn spooky.
  • Irony: At one point in Retribution, Jack addresses Temple, who is fully equipped with body armor and ammo reserves, as a "mobile reload mule." The former's first name, however, actually means "male donkey."
    • For even more irony for Jack's namesake, Shadow's size, strength, agility, loyalty, and protective nature could qualify him as a livestock guardian.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: In Retribution Jack says this about GAC, as an example of why they clearly are evil. Jack himself, however, also qualifies.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Many characters feature a thick foreign accent for no reason and not a single one is believable. Fat Chow's "Jack Suraate!" and Diggs' Cockney accent aside, the prison gym seems to be an ethnic melting pot.
    • "Yaaa Jack Slate you wan, Here's your Siggarets."
  • Kaizo Trap: Of sorts. The final boss fight seemingly ends with Jack hurling the Final Boss into a furnace to burn alive. This is followed by a cutscene of said boss walking out of said furnace right towards Jack, making the player think he's trying to make one last act of defiance before dying...until suddenly the fight resumes and Jack has to take him out one more time. Seeing how hard the rest of the fight is, it's pretty easy to get to this part while on your last sliver of health and then get killed when the boss cheap-shots you.
  • Kill 'em All: Jack Slate, the reporter, and the preacher convict that helped Jack escape from prison are the only confirmed survivors at the end of the first game.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The designers of Retribution sports Jack with a powerful upper body and an agile lower body, and as such, Jack is pretty fast for a 6-foot 200-pound man and can punch enemies away with ease.
    • The same goes for Shadow. Standing at Jack's height when on his hind legs, he is still as fast as any other dog his size while able to body slam enemies and tear through their body armor.
  • Limp and Livid: Fahook when you fight him.
  • Macguffin: Dead to Rights 2 starts with Jack trying to rescue Judge Macguffin. Later on he tries to find Macguffin's "files" which contain evidence that would implicate certain city officials. Yes, you're actually trying to find Macguffin's Macguffin.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Surprisingly inverted. There are three named female characters in the first game. They all die.
  • Mighty Glacier: The first of the big three in the original game is Mayor Pinnacle, an absurdly huge man in a nice suit with bowling ball-sized fists that can pound you into the dust.
    • The GAC Tank in Retribution.
  • Monster Clown: In the original game, Jack is attacked by soldiers wearing clown masks, in a graveyard. Why, yes, it was a strange game.
    • In Retribution, the Triads have an inexplicable clown motif as well - possibly because they take the place of the Clowns from the original thematically.
  • Mood Whiplash: The original game was very odd. Betrayal and death follow Jack around, and he even tries to angst a few times, but he's right back to the irreverent quips like nothing happened moments later.
    • Most notable is the scene where Hildi dies right afterwards you pick up some explosives and Jack is notcibly excited about it.
    • In Retribution, Shadow is a sadistic killer ripping apart any thugs in his way. For some reason this dosen't stop the developers from trying to make him as cute and frendly as possible in cutscenes.
  • Mooks: Nearly all enemies in the games come in huge hordes.
  • Moral Dissonance: Most pronounced in Retribution, where Jack in the cutscenes repeatedly claims to be a "good cop" and stresses the the importance of arresting and interrogating criminals, despite the fact that he in gameplay kills practically every single criminal he comes across, and even does so in pretty sadistic ways. In fact, the only times he ever uses any handcuffs is whenever he needs a Human Shield, and if the unlucky mook in question haven't perished from getting shot at, he always summarily executes them once they have outlived their usefulness. Most jarring in this department is his first encounter with the GAC, where he expresses his disgust for their Judge, Jury, and Executioner methods, without any hints of irony, at all.
    • Also played in the first very breifly, in the escape you kill the Warden by having him switch places with you in the electric chair during the blackout. Try to non-leathaly take out the prision guards however nets you a game over for an unexplained reason.
    • Comes across even more hilariously in the Slowbeef/Diabetus Let's Play, where shortly after the "Judge, jury and executioner all in one" speech, Jack busts into a room and one of the GAC cops raises his hands in a very obvious gesture of surrender. Jack immediately shoots him in the face.
      • Oh, he eventually reflects on his killing spree and vows to act more like his father, by bringing Temple in instead of just flat out assassinating him like he did the whole game till now. Jack does this by slaughtering is way through Temple's bodyguards and using him as a human shield against the heavily armed GAC troops specifically there to kill his hostage.
      • But there is also the problem that Frank Slate's morals is also quite questionable. His definition of "good police work" seems to be running around a poor neighborhood with his son and dog in tow, and killing everyone who puts up any resistance with his bare hands. His sole attempt at diplomacy seems to prompted by suddenly running into criminals that are carrying guns.
  • Murder by Cremation: You defeat the Final Boss by pushing him into a furnace.
  • Murder, Inc.: Mayhem Inc in the original game.
  • Mythology Gag: As well as GAC returning as antagonists, Pinnacle is briefly mentioned in Retribution though is apparently not the mayor. The ending also features a cameo by Preacherman, and mentions that the mayor is now Gloria Exner, Pinnacle's opposing candidate from the original.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Double subverted. The Final Boss in Retribution has Redwater swinging a knife at the unarmed detective. He and Jack can disarm and use the knife against the other.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: If Eve hadn't been so eager to shoot Marvin in the face, he could've told Jack about Fahook and a large chunk of the plot wouldn't have had to happen.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Augie Blatz from the first game apparently really likes his Christopher Walken impressions.
  • No Indoor Voice: In Retribution, Jack often screams his taunts as loud as possible, most notably a very emphasized FUCK YOU!
    • Dont forget: You have the right to remain SILENT!
  • Obvious Beta: Fahook's plane. The inexplicable scene of the prisoners Jack just rescued trying to kill him, Fahook running around shirtless with incredibly glitchy animation, your clearly being meant to end the fight with him with some kind of special move that doesn't seem to exist (luckily, shooting him works too), and having a 50/50 chance of Jack getting stuck running into the cockpit doorframe after the cutscene there.
  • One-Man Army: Jack Slate, though it's more like One-Man-and-a-dog Army.
  • Operation Game of Doom: Bomb-defusing sequences required the player to pull bombs out of cylinders in this way. Each bomb had a small pin which ran inside a channel on the inside of the cylinder. Touching the pin to the side of the channel had a predictable effect.
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: The weapons used by the GAC in Retribution are all boxy, which helps with the image that they're all basically space marines in the present day.
  • Posthumous Character: Frank in the original game, though he at least gets some screentime in Retribution first.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: From Retribution:
  • Putting on the Reich: The GAC squad, an elite (and corrupt) anti-crime unit wear body armor and gas masks that make them look like the freakin' Death Korps of Krieg. It's kind of silly, actually.
    • Not to mention Warden Sickle in the first game, who looks like he's one red armband away from wearing an SS uniform.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Dead to Rights: Jack has avenged his father's murder, but his girlfriend Hildy, his fellow assassin friend Eve, and both candidates running for mayor are dead, and the struggle for power will only continue in the city.
    • Dead to Rights II: Congratulations, Jack! You killed Blanchov! But your girlfriend is dead, the judge you were trying to save all along is dead, and you have no idea where his files are.
  • Rated M for Manly: To a ridiculous extent. Jack Slate himself crosses straight into Testosterone Poisoning, complete with Chris Redfield-like physique.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At the end of the first game (which is chronologically the last), Jack, after killing pretty much everyone that screwed him over, decides that he can't deal with Grant City anymore, and leaves the city to rot.
  • See You in Hell: The end credits sequence for the original Dead to Rights has every villain in the game (all of whom he killed) shouting, "See you in hell, Jack Slate!"
  • Sequel Hook: Rather oddly, despite Jack ending the first game with a big speech about how he's still going to do his part to fight injustice, there has never been an actual sequel, just a prequel and an alternate continuity.
    • Retribution ends in a equally vague way, Jack has seemingly planned to take a much more honest path as a cop, much like his father, but there is no plans for a sequel.
  • Shout-Out: Fat Chow in the original game is a thinly veiled reference to Chow Yun Fat, a Shout Out to the game's heavy John Woo influences.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: From the original game:
    Jack: He walked in like he owned the place... which suggested he probably did.
  • Taking the Bullet: Downplayed in Retribution. Shadow tackles Redwater and prevents him from mowing down Jack with a gun turret, but not without getting beaten into submission for it. This only pisses off Jack even more.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Mayhem Inc's plan to assassinate a single woman? Blow up the entire stadium where her mayoral debate is being held while swarming the building with a horde of several hundred hitmen at the very same time.
    • Later, Fahook kills the pilot of the plane he's on so that it'll crash with Jack on-board, and on top of that, booby-traps the autopilot with two different bombs. Even Jack wonders if he just keeps the autopilot on his plane booby-trapped at all times.
    • Several of the game's disarms are like this as well. Was it really necessary to shoot that guy in the face after you broke his arm and then turned his spine to paste, Jack? They get even more unnecessarily brutal in Retribution.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: What was his name, again?
  • Throwaway Guns: Jack doesn't have time to reload. He just tosses his pistols aside and draws new ones.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Special note goes to Riggs in Retribution, who recorded a conversation he had with Temple on a tape recorder regarding the assault on Temple Tower and killing Redwater as insurance in case Temple ever went back on a deal involving large sums of money. However, he didn't find it important enough to take the recorder with him and instead left it on a desk where anyone could find it. Jack later takes it as evidence and has Redwater listen to it while standing right next to him. It didn't end well for Riggs.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Jack's personality while on duty in Retribution.
  • Video-Game Caring Potential: Despite being overqualified for being euthanized after tasting so much blood, Shadow is easy to get attached to during missions as Jack, and it is possible to feel lonely when you have to proceed without him. Players may even engage enemies in gunfights alone while having Shadow stay as far away from the action as possible to not risk him getting hurt.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: In the first we have the very eccentric Patch, an assassin that frames Jack for the murder of Augie Blatz, he only gets the introduction, next time he is fought while you are riding a news chopper and is vaporized from the resulting Car Explosion.
    • Many characters get introduced and then quickly killed off before a whole lot can be done with them. Gopher's probably the crowning champion of this, getting about two lines of dialogue before running away from Jack. By the time you catch up with him, he's already been killed by Longshoreman X.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Redwater in Retribution. And arguably, Jack.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Lampshaded in the second game. Twice. You know you're doing something wrong if the Big Bad tells you to just shoot him the first chance you get.
  • Wretched Hive: Slate describes Grant City as such.
  • Zerg Rush: The usual strategy of every single Mook faction in the game which is especially jarring for the assassins of Mayhem Inc and the elite SWAT-like unit GAC. By the end of the game, you've probably killed a small town's worth of both.

Alternative Title(s): Dead To Rights