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Video Game / Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death

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Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death is a 2003 First-Person Shooter based on the Judge Dredd comics, developed and published by Rebellion for the PC, Playstation 2, and Xbox.

Once again, the Dark Judges, sinister beings from another dimension who consider all life to be a crime and therefore punishable by death, are released from their captivity and begin to massacre the population of Mega City One after receiving new bodies from the Death Cult. At the same time experiments by the insane Dr. Icarus causes a plague of undead throughout the city. Judge Joseph "Joe" Dredd, the most feared lawman in Mega City One, must capture the four Dark Judges one by one and stop the outbreak to save the city.

This game provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel:
    • Judge Fear isn't Immune to Bullets, but he's enough of a Damage-Sponge Boss that just about the only things that can kill him reasonably quickly are shotguns or grenade launchers. The game places an Arbitrator shotgun conveniently in front of him.
    • Judge Fire is weak against water, so driving him out of the smokatorium involves activating the sprinklers.
    • Judge Mortis is vulnerable to a disinfecting gas (which, granted, is so powerful it's lethal to humans), which has a release valve just behind him.
    • Judge Death can be contained by a powerful enough psychic, so once Dredd frees the Psi-Judges, Anderson is able to trap him.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Judge Mortis. The reason he's so dangerous in the comics is because his decaying touch works on pretty much anything, making him basically an Implacable Man who can melt his way through doors, walls, and people. In this game he can be trapped by an ordinary chem hazard containment room.
    • Judge Fire as well. In the comics, he's the only Dark Judge whose physical form cannot be contained with Boing® and is Immune to Bullets. Here, he can be driven out of the smokatorium by activating the sprinklers and forcing him into the ventilation fans, where he gets sliced up in a cutscene before having his essence trapped.
  • Age Without Youth: Dr. Icarus found a serum that would give him eternal life... by turning him into an undead monstrosity who will be forever conscious.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization massively expands Dr. Icarus' story, as a survivor of Necropolis who was possessed by Judge Death to eventually become his host body.
  • Apocalypse Cult: A group of citizens have formed a cult that worships the Dark Judges as gods and wants to return things to the way they were during Necropolis, when the entire city was under penalty of death.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack:
    • Laser weapons bypass your shield and directly damage your health.
    • The Lawgiver comes with an armour piercing round that deals heavy damage per shot.
  • Assist Character: Fellow judges can be used to follow Dredd and assist in a fight, but it doesn't happen all that often.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The incendiary bullets are stated to be especially effective against vampires. In practice, it takes some thirty seconds for a vampire to perish just from burning, during which it will keep moving and attacking unhindered. It is much better to use armor-piercing or explosive rounds to take them down. And if you use incendiary ammunition against anything human, you'll get the Special Judicial Squad sent to subdue you very quickly.
  • Bank Robbery: Dredd has to stop a bank robbery in progress early in the game.
  • Bear Trap: Judge Fear's weapon, which he's fond of spamming during his boss fight.
  • Black Comedy: In the Mega Mall, even while the place is being overrun by the undead, the announcer still talks about sales over the PA until they overrun her.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: This is the most reliable way to get enemies to surrender. It's actually very useful for gameplay, since you need to make arrests to boost your law meter and score.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Shooting most characters in the head will cause their head to burst. The Zombie Apocalypse arcade level requires the player to kill sixteen zombies with perfect headshots using a shotgun.
  • Boring Yet Practical: Standard Execution rounds for the Lawgiver provide a high rate of fire, more rounds per magazine than other setting, and will still dole out decent damage, especially with headshots.
  • Boss-Only Level: The Smokatorium level is built entirely around defeating Judge Fire, the second boss.
  • Burn the Undead: The game will punish you for using the Lawgiver's incendiary bullet on regular perps, but vampires and zombies are fair game. Subverted in that exploding their heads with regular bullets is way more effective.
  • Contemplative Boss: Dredd is introduced watching over the city from the balcony of the Grand Hall of Justice with his arms folded behind his back. Hershey and Anderson come to see him, but he doesn't turn to look at them throughout the conversation. Inverted in that Hershey is technically Dredd's boss, but he commands so much respect that the trope works very well for him.
  • Continuity Nod: Some of the Arcade levels hark back to older strips, including a one shot strip that casually mentions the issuing of shotguns to resyk workers.
  • Creepy High-Pitched Voice: Judge Fire sounds unnaturally high-pitched.
  • Cutscene Boss: The first time you encounter Judge Death, about halfway through the game, he's disposed of purely in a cutscene. You do fight him as the Final Boss after he gets himself a new One-Winged Angel body.
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno: Most of the soundtrack is techno songs.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Judge Fear can withstand an impressive amount of damage before going down, requiring over 3 full mags of gunfire from the lawgiver's default fire mode, or 9-10 grenade launcher shots or shotgun blasts.
  • The Dead Can Dance: In the Mega Mall level, there's a hilarious bit in the nightclub where the zombies are ignoring the people trapped inside and happily dancing to the music as long as you don't disturb them.
  • Dead Weight: Some of the zombies are necrotized obese citizens.
  • Dem Bones: Joe has to shoot his way through a couple of hostile skeletons on Deadworld.
  • Developer's Foresight: Heatseeking ammunition does not home in on undead enemies for obvious reasons. If you first set them on fire, on the other hand...
  • Down the Drain: Dredd chases Judge Death down to the Undercity of Mega City One, where he runs into and dispatches Judge Fear.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The vampires. Whereas the zombies just shuffle around and can even be killed with your fists, the vampires are faster and more durable, making them comparatively harder to put down.
    • The black-robed cultists wield heavier weapons such as laser rifles, light machine guns, or grenade launchers, and can't be made to surrender.
  • Enemy Civil War: On several occasions, Dredd can come across Death cultists and street gangs engaged in a firefight with each other. Zombies and vampires also attack anything living, including the cultists and the very scientists that created them.
  • Escort Mission: Some levels involve rescuing citizens and evacuating them to H-Wagons and other safe areas. Citizens can be ordered to follow Dredd or remain in place.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Judge Mortis and Judge Fear have sinister, deep voices. Inverted with Judge Fire, whose voice is very high pitched, and averted with Judge Death, who's employing another trope altogether.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Some of the crimes you can arrest random bystanders for to increase your lawmeter are downright hilarious. Possession of a goldfish without a license (which is listed as technically falling under unlawful imprisonment), possession of comic books, noise annoyance.
  • Feral Vampires: While "Dracula"-style vampires do exist in the Judge Dredd universe, the vampires in the game are recently deceased humans who have been injected with Dr. Icarus's Pet Regen virus, regenerating their bodies (and giving them a fitness model's physique) but also causing their brains to revert to a feral animal state. When the virus infects a corpse whose brain has been dead too long to be restored at all, a zombie results.
  • Flunky Boss: Judge Fear is accompanied by endless waves of respawning vampires, while Judge Death is fought alongside respawning Deadworld skeletons.
  • Hostage Spirit-Link: A big part of the game is the Law meter system: your status goes up if you successfully arrest perps, it goes down if you abuse your authority by being too trigger happy. If it hits zero, the SJS Squad will shows up to hunt down a rogue Judge.
  • Hotter and Sexier: In this game, Anderson apparently goes about her duties without zipping her uniform all the way up.
  • Kevlard: Obese Zombies are the most damage-spongy enemies in the game besides Judge Fear; they can withstand a good 31 or so armor-piercing rounds (regular zombies go down after only 3-4) and even 3 grenade launcher blasts. Fortunately, they're also incredibly slow due to their massive bulk.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Your average criminals usually surrender immediately when most of their buddies are dead. Death cultists tend to surrender if you kill all nearby tall, black-clad "elite" cultists.
  • Lean and Mean: Judge Death's nearly skeletal figure makes him quite thin. At one point he's shown executing a random civilian, and the civilian is noticably larger than he is.
  • Limited Loadout: You can only carry two weapons and (in the campaign at least) you cannot drop the Lawgiver pistol.
  • List of Transgressions: The Dark Judges' prisoner files list the crimes each of them were charged with by Mega City One's Justice Department.
    Judge Mortis: Murder, Genocide, and Transmission of Prohibited Diseases
    Judge Fire: Arson, Murder, and Genocide
    Judge Fear: Murder, Genocide, and Inciting Terror in the General Populace
    Judge Death: Murder, Incitement to Murder, Genocide, and Attempted Omnicide
  • Loading Screen: The loading screens explained the objective of the level or provided a read-out of the perpetrator's crimes and recommended sentence, especially in regards to the four Dark Judges who served as bosses. Also, their prisoner IDs all include some combination of 666.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Icarus is a deranged scientist whose creation of the undead plague is a side effect of his research into immortality. Dredd kills him, but not before he injects himself with his own serum. It mutates Icarus's body into a monster resembling Judge Death, which is then hijacked by the Dark Judge.
  • Man on Fire: There are Incendinary ammunition for the very purpose of setting things on fire by shooting them. Unlike some of the other types of ammo (Bouncing Bullets?!), it is quite effective, though using it on most civilians is highly frowned upon. Using incendiary rounds on ANYONE not a zombie is considered pure evil. You will quickly be determined to be a rogue judge and hunted down by the SJS.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Human enemies and undead will fight each other as well as Judges, and different gangs will also engage in firefights against each other.
  • Merged Reality: When Judge Death retreats to his home dimension after his body is destroyed, he reveals to Dredd that his new plan is to use the Psi-Judges' energy to merge Deadworld with Dredd's universe, killing every living thing in Mega City One.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: The developers went through the extra effort to have the firearms of the Judges explode if a civilian tries to use them, which is keeping in with the source material. This would be more commendable if it applied for the AI too. Admittedly, actually witnessing this is a rare occurrence, since you have to fulfill several specific conditions: A) Find an enemy who will not surrender when you shoot the weapon out of his/her hand. B) Have this happen near a dropped Judge weapon. C) Get the enemy to pick up the Judge weapon instead of the weapon they just dropped, or simply attacking you with fisticuffs.
  • Never Bareheaded: Dredd, of course, except at the very start of the tutorial level where you obtain your helmet. However, since the player views things from Dredd's POV, they still don't get a clear look at his face.
  • Nightmare Face: Averted. Sadly, they didn't give Fear a One-Hit Kill attack if you get too close to his face. Although, canonically, this doesn't work on Dredd anyway.
  • Noodle People: The game uses a very stylized art style reminiscent of the Timesplitters series; Rebellion would use a similar style for their later games Rogue Trooper and Shellshock 2.
  • Not Me This Time: When vampires and zombies start running amok around the megacity, everyone naturally thinks the Dark Judges are responsible. Instead it turns out the current outbreak of undead is being caused by a Mad Scientist called Dr. Icarus who's been using his retrovirus designed to resurrect dead pets on humans.
  • Number of the Beast: Death's prisoner ID number is 101-100111-666. His associates have the same first nine digits (which add up to 6 as well), followed by 667, 668, and 669.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: There's a creepy pipe organ playing by itself in Judge Death's fortress on Deadworld.
  • One-Winged Angel: Exaggerated with the Final Boss Judge Death, who's already an undead monster before he bodyjacks a mutated behemoth that's even less recognizably human.
  • Prison Riot: Dredd stops an in-progress one at an offshore penitentiary. Unfortunately, during the ensuing chaos the Dark Judges manage to escape from their confinement.
  • Puzzle Boss: All the Dark Judges except Judge Fear are this. Judge Mortis has to be trapped and can't be taken down by simply destroying his body, because his ethereal form will just escape (and Dredd doesn't have a containment trap to catch his ghost). Judge Fire is simply Immune to Bullets. And Judge Death's Final Boss form is a giant invincible mutant juggernaut.
  • Rank Inflation: While the usual D, C, B, A, S ranks have been replaced, there is still a similar ranking system with equivalent ranks of Cadet, Rookie, Street Judge, Senior Judge and Judge Dredd.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: The game used a regenerating shield over static health system, although it's hard to notice because your shield is actually very weak and only protects against 2 or 3 bullet hits; fortunately, your health is very robust and can take quite a lot of hits before you die.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The only way to defeat Judge Fear, sadly, is not to punch him in the face, but to use the conveniently located Arbitrator shotgun on him.
    • That said if you pick up the light machine gun from mooks outside, it can both stun Fear with the high rate of fire and destroy the traps he throws.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Apart from the standard pistol-shotgun-machine gun-rifle setup, there is the Lawgiver, which can fill several different functions:
    • Standard: Somewhere between a pistol and an automatic.
    • Armour-Piercing: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Hi-Ex: Grenade launcher.
    • Incendiary: Flamethrower.
    • Heat Seeker: Sniper rifle.
    • Ricochet: Gimmick weapon.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: The system encourages you to try and take criminals in alive by ordering them to stop and then disarming/wounding them. You're not particularly punished for killing someone engaged in a firefight with you, unless you kill someone who has surrendered or use your Lawgiver's incendiary rounds on perps.
  • Stripped to the Bone:
    • Incendiary rounds will do this to whatever they hit. Eventually.
    • Judge Mortis's and Fire's attacks also do this to their victims.
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: The Lawgiver, of course, has six types of ammo. The Lawrod rifle also qualifies, being an assault rifle in its primary mode and can use its scope to make it a highly precise Sniper Rifle.
  • Trick Bullet: The lawgiver's selectable multi-function bullets.
    • Armor-piercing rounds fire in single shot rather than the normal rounds' burst fire, but deal more damage per individual hit.
    • Ricochet bullets will ricochet off walls and around corners (though this has extremely limited usefulness), and also can be used as rubber bullets since they do significantly reduced damage compared to standard rounds. You can thus use them to demoralize enemies you're trying to get to surrender.
    • Heat-seeking rounds auto-track enemies but cost much more ammo per shot compared to regular or armor-piercing rounds.
    • Incendiary rounds set their target on fire, which isn't really useful as doing so against undead enemies just means the zombie or vampire trying to claw your eyes out is now doing so while on fire, and setting criminals on fire tanks your law rating and is a good way to get the Special Judicial Squad on your ass.
    • Explosive rounds do exactly that, but they cost a very large amount of ammo to use.
  • Universal Ammo:
    • A limited example in that the Lawgiver has a single ammo pool, which different firing modes deplete at different rates. Regular rounds give you 64 shots per magazine, while incendiary and explosive empty a magazine in just eight shots. Ricochet, armor-piercing and heatseeker fall in between.
    • The same holds true for the Lawrod rifle, which has two modes: either it fires like an automatic rifle, or single shots in sniper mode which are much more damaging individually and get you much fewer shots per magazine.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: After Dredd spends most of the game dispensing justice in Mega City One and tracking down the Dark Judges, the final level sends him to Deadworld again, an Alternate Dimension ruled by Judge Death where all life is a crime.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Setting the lawgiver to incendiary while fighting street criminals results in them being burnt to the bone even from leg and arm shots. This will get the SJS set upon you fairly quickly.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Killing random civilians loses you points for the level. Kill another Judge, even if accidentally, is pretty much game over. Lose enough points and the Special Judiciary Service ("Who watches the Watchmen? We do.") turn up to gun you down. Amusingly, they show up in places they shouldn't even have access to, including the final mission on Deadworld, an evil alternate universe populated by the undead.
  • Virtual Training Simulation: A variation in the tutorial level—the training area itself is real, but the perps and hostages are all holograms.
  • Voice of the Legion: Death talks in a ghostly, echoing voice.
  • Wanted Meter: The Law Meter, which goes up as you enforce the law (arresting perps) and goes down as you break it (killing civilians and unarmed perps). When the Law Meter hits zero, you fail the game; it becomes impossible to finish the level, and SJS Judges will constantly spawn in and attack you until you die.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Hilariously, Judge Mortis can be fought with cleaning products according to the loading screen, although it's not put to the test in the game itself, though you do force him to retreat into a quarantine room by pumping sterilizing gas into the hospital wing he's running amok in.
  • You Are Too Late: Dredd attacks the Death Cult's hide-out at the docks to stop the resurrection of the Dark Judges, but their leader has already completed the ritual giving them physical bodies and taunts Dredd thus. The monsters escape, but the player can still shoot Death's priest.


Video Example(s):


Dark Judges escape

After escaping from their containment, the Dark Judges immediately execute the man who unwittingly freed them for the crime of being alive.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / HangingJudge

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