Sequels are such an ingrained part of the video-game marketplace that it feels curmudgeonly to complain about them.
Yes, I'd love to see more originality, but when a game is as good as "Uncharted 2" or "BioShock 2," I'm not going to let that number in the title diminish my enjoyment.
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
But then there are games like "Dead to Rights: Retribution" (Namco Bandai, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $59.99). The original "Dead to Rights" was an adequate if uninspired crime drama that saw middling sales in 2002, but a slapdash 2005 sequel seemed to put the franchise to rest.
And yet, here we are in 2010 with a new chapter in a tale that most of us lost interest in a long time ago.
The hero, Jack Slate, is as generic as his name. A grizzled vice cop with a huge chip on his shoulder, he's the only man bold enough to stand against the forces of crime and corruption that have infested his beloved Grant City. If that means the brutal slaughter of hundreds of faceless thugs, so be it.
In most of the levels, the action consists of stumbling onto a crime scene and then methodically killing everyone you see. You can either punch or shoot your way out of trouble, but neither option is satisfying due to sluggish controls. Deal enough pain and you're rewarded with a burst of slow-motion "bullet time," a gimmick that's gone stale over the decade since "The Matrix" came out.
The distinguishing feature of "Dead to Rights" is Jack's canine companion, Shadow. In "Retribution," Shadow serves mostly as sidekick; you can order him to pounce on enemies while Jack plugs away at their buddies. The dog also takes the lead in a couple of stealth sequences, sneaking up on unsuspecting guards before ripping out their throats.
Still, Shadow is no competition for the lovable mutts we've seen in recent games like "Fable II" and "Dragon Age," and he doesn't do enough to perk up the listless, repetitive violence of "Retribution."
Rating: One star out of four.