Judge Dredd
Dredd Vs Death

Format: PS2
Vivendi Universal/Rebellion
Age Restrictions: 16+

The 22nd century megalopolis of Mega-City One is home to 400 million citizens, every one a potential criminal, and the only thing preventing the city from descending into complete anarchy is the group of elite law enforcers known as the Judges. You are chief lawman Judge Dredd and it is your job to ensure that law and order is upheld. But how will you fair against your old enemies the dark judges and their master Judge Death?...

Judge Dredd: Dredd Vs Death is an intense first-person shooter set in the 2000AD world of Mega-City One. The character is still one of the best creations to emerge out of the UK comic industry. Over the years he has appeared in a rather naff movie starring Sylvester Stallone, had two separate production companies try their hand at audio dramas (Dirk Maggs and Big Finish - both of which have made exceptionally impressive productions) and now a serious attempt at making a decent console game.

First impressions of this game were dreadful. Poor graphics, impossibly difficult controls and too many background characters who look the same. But, stick with it and you'll soon see why we think this is one of the most fun-packed and involving games we have played for ages.

You start off in Justice Central where the trainers put you through a few simple procedures to ensure that you get the knack of the basic controls. Arresting perps, shooting targets and finally entering a holographic computer simulation to test how you would deal against a real hostage situation are all training exercises that help ensure that you don't fire at a civilian instead of hitting them or filling them full of lead when you are unleashed into the real world.

Once you've mastered the basics, it's time for you to take your new-found skills onto the streets to arrest anyone you see who is up to no good. Sadly, this being Mega-City One, it seems that everyone is a law breaker. Everyone you approach is doing something wrong (from loitering to illegal possession of a hamster). Sadly there are not enough different looking perps and the list of crimes, while funny, are also too repetitive. There are nice touches including the squeaking of the fatties belly wheels, and anyone who grew up with Dredd will love the way that Rebellion have tried to incorporate a comicbook feel to the game.

Next up it's time to track down some crazy vampires, and it is here that the use of your lawgiver (firearm) comes in useful. At the flick of a switch you can change your ammo to standard, heat seeking, ricochet, high-explosive, incendiary or armour piercing. And, just like in the comics, the gun calls out the ammo selected - although there is a small icon that appears on screen in case you can't hear the gun over the sounds of Mega-City One, it's a hell of a noisy place at times.

"But I thought this game was Dredd Vs. Death!" I hear you cry. Ah, fear not. All of this running around is just to get you used to the action so that you are up for the challenge later on. And as you run around arresting and killing perps, the Judge Death story line starts to unfold. Looks like the cubes the Dark Judges were confined in have been opened and they are on the loose. But you have plenty of work to do before you confront them. It is this attention to detail that made us sit up and applaud this game. You'll get you fight, but you have to wait... and the anticipation is murder.

There are some negative points which drag the game down a little. Firstly the graphics are not as good as they could have been. However, to be honest I suppose you have to weigh up whether you want better graphics, or faster, smoother gameplay and as you'll spend most of the time running around like a loon I think the gameplay takes priority. Then there is Dredd's death. He looks like a rag doll and more often than not his legs and arms twist around unbelievably. Also, what is it with the advertising? Do we really need to apprehend a bunch of perps who are illegally smuggling Red Bull? And finally, until you get used to them, the controls are a nightmare. Vampires will tear you to pieces while you are struggling to reload or turn around (which can take ages).

But the plus points far outweigh the minus. Not only is there the story mode, but you can unlock plenty of arcade mode games as you go. The one that provided us with the most fun was Block Wars. This is a fantastic game where you are a citizen of blue block and you have to kill as many red block perps and Judges as possible. But there are countless other games where you can pit your fighting prowess against psychotic robots, a ruthless gang or against fellow gamers in a Quake/Doom head to head battle.

As I mentioned earlier, there have been two companies that have produced Judge Dredd audios. And it is to Big Finish that Rebellion have turned to provide all the audio in this game. Toby Longworth's Dredd is perfect and it was a sensible choice on the part of the game developers to incorporate Big Finish's expertise - it adds a lot to the gameplay.

This game is sure to keep you amused for months and months and is certainly something you are likely to come back to time and time again. While there are a few things that could have been enhanced, this is currently the closest you'll ever get to being Judge Dredd.

Nick Smithson

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