Friday, 13 January 2012

Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death (PC) - Guest Post

A stranger, in his dying moments, handed this game to me.


It's a nice day here in Mega-City One! How often do you see a dystopian future city during the day? I thought it would look a little worse for wear.

"Only the Judges can prevent total anarchy. Empowered to dispense instant justice, they are judge, jury and executioner all in one. The most feared and respected of the Judges is Dredd. HE IS THE LAW."

How does he SEE out of that thing?

Chief Hershey is concerned. The Psi-Judges are predicting a plague. I'm not sure how the Judges are expecting to deal with a plague. You can't arrest a disease. Maybe it's a metaphor, but you can't arrest a metaphor either.

Wait, they have 'Psi-Judges'? Sure, why not.

Dredd's first order is to disperse a protest being held outside the Halls of Justice. These poor fools want democracy. Dredd has no time for democracy.

"Bleediing heart liberals! Time to dispense some justice."

To get the protesters to surrender, Dredd can yell an order to throw down their weapons. He's like an action figure; he's got a whole bunch of prepared phrases. One threat and the protestors chuck their signs aside and get on their knees. Press a button on them, and they're cuffed.

"There's an iso-cube with your name on it."

When you charge someone, Dredd reads out the sentence and you see their name, a list of charges and the sentence, which is neat.


And it never gets old.

Next task is to deal with the graffiti punks messing up our shiny Halls of Justice. Are they sending the most feared and respected Judge to deal with a bunch of kids just to scare 'em? There are a few Judges standing around here doing nothing, can't they do it?

"In this city, justice comes at a price. That price is freedom."

Being a Judge looks pretty awesome. There are worse things to be in the 22nd century. I bet they get real food and everything.

I saw some guys standing around next to some graffiti way down the street, so I yelled at them. This person reacted to my order by stopping, so she must be giving herself up. She doesn't look much a graffiti punk to me. Everybody in MC1's guilty of something though. ARRESTED. Parking Violation.


Here's one of the scrawlers, but he's doing a runner. No matter how much I shout, he doesn't want to give up. Well, I don't want to shoot him unless he shoots first...


Can't arrest the unconscious. Oh well. I'm sure somebody'll scrape him up.

I've just noticed that this is the first PC FPS in ages that I've played that has music. Suitable music, to boot. There's even different music depending on the current objective!

I like to think that Judge Dredd-world is the future of Sam & Max-world.

Scrawlers! They're throwing their paint cans at me as makeshift incendiary grenades. Time for me to put this big gun of mine to some use. I'm loathed to shoot them, honestly. This gun looks big enough for a few stray ricochets to turn perps into paste. Which, incidentally, is one of the modes it has.

Hey! This isn't the future of Sam & Max-world! This is just regular Jet Set Radio-world!

They don't seem at all concerned about my rapid firing all over the walls, so I take it up a notch and set the Lawgiver to High Explosive. After I (accidentally) blast a perp over the wall and into a dumpster, leaving bloody stains over everyone and everything, the rest wisely surrender.

For assaulting a Judge:

After arresting all the scrawlers, the radio reports a conveniently timed bank robbery directly in front of me. Even the music changes! It all happened a bit too fast and turned out to be a bit of a mess. This is the best picture I have of it.

My plan was to hide around the corner, demand their surrender, and try to shoot the guns out of the bad guys' hands. A couple of other Judges, however, decides to run into the bank and spray explosive and incendiary rounds everywhere. In seconds, the entire gang was in flames and running in circles around me.

That wasn't my plan. I'm trying to arrest people here, guys!

For the lone survivor: "LIFE IMPRISONMENT."

If you're wondering why I care about arresting people, aside from my general good-eggedness, arresting people raises your 'Law meter', which results in a better end of level score. If you shoot innocents, it goes down. If you return fire when fired upon, it doesn't move. If it goes to zero, the Special Judicial Squad appear out of nowhere and blast you to bits. And, you know, it never occurred to me to blindly fire into the unarmed crowd at the start of the level. Gosh. That was an oversight.

Vampire monsters. Oooh scary. Or tedious. You can't threaten them. You can't arrest them. You can only shoot them. They like to jump right at your face and run and bounce all over. So tedious that Dredd here's got so bored he's span his gun around and pointed it at his own face.

The vampires also like to jump at civilians, which isn't doing my Law meter any favours thanks to my choice of High-Ex ammo. The civvies are too dumb to run away, I can't order them to run either. TOO BAD.

These guys killed me a couple of times. Judge Dredd simply doesn't acknowledge pain. There's pain triangles, but there's very little in the way of sound effects. He's got a Halo-like shield, but I don't like how it works. As far as I'm concerned, a hit that fully depletes the player's shield should stop there and not affect the player's health. These guys can hit you, take off all your shield, a health pack and a chunk of your health in one hit without you even being aware of it.

Let's talk about the Lawgiver Mk. 3. You start off with it, and you can't drop it, but why would you want to? It's got Rapid Fire, High Explosive, Armour Piercing, Ricochet, Incendiary and Heatseeker modes. And they're all bloody good. I was suprised to find that all six firing modes were available right from the start. They all run off the same ammo, but that's fair enough. It's the same gun.

I think Deus Ex: Invisible War got a lot of stick for this because it wasn't the same as Deus Ex for no reason. And the tiny fiddly ammo things always fell in places where you couldn't find them. And the guns were all awful.

The downside to using the Lawgiver is that the only way to get more ammo is from dead Judges. The other Judges are such useless, reckless idiots it's worth considering just watching themselves get killed so you can pick up their ammo and put it to better use.

You can pick up a second weapon, but I can hardly ever remember how to switch between primary and seconary weapons (mousewheel is change Lawgiver ammo type).

After blowing up all the vampires, Dredd gets a call from Chief Judge Hershey. The Psi-Judges are picking up some bad mojo from the Nixon Penitentiary. It's The Dark Judges!

Yeah, at some point in the Judge Dredd timeline, four Judges from another dimension went crazy, then killed everybody ever for the crime of living, then became supernatural demons, then travelled to Dredd's dimension, then Dredd stopped them somehow and put them in a box.

Robots, mutants, psychic powers, other dimensions, demons, magic... The 22nd century has everything! And they say 90% of the population are suffering from boredom!

A hovercraft carrying a buttload of vampires has crashed into the Penitentiary and the prisoners are rioting! I'm sure we're all up for some all-out action as Dredd has to recapture (or marmalise) all the escaping perps and restore order!

No. Vampires. Only vampires. Great. When I find prisoners, they die in scripted cutscenes unless I can remember to switch from Hi-Ex to something safer in time (never works, the gun has a three second delay when you switch ammo types).

I'm going to get a lousy 'total sentence' score on this level.

There's two vampires around every corner. That's about as varied as it gets. When I blow them up (or sometimes if I shoot them with an ordinary gun), they spring straight up into the air and fly around before landing. If they land straight on their hand or foot they spring right back into the air like a crazy pogo spider. In tight corridors, it's hard to see for the flying, bouncing mass of vampire bodies.

I've found a super accurate assault rifle which can also convert into a sniper rifle. Yep, I think I'm set for guns for the whole game now.

Shame there's nothing interesting around here to use it on.

I'm spending an awful lot of time outside on this prison level. I thought there'd be corridors, cells and prisoners running about.

This place might as well be a bunch of warehouses in the middle of the city.

I'm trying to think why these vampires are such boring enemies. It could be because all they do is run and jump into your face. They don't pause, hide, panic, make mistakes, make funny comments or DROP AMMO.

Or you could say I'm whining because they're too fast for me to hit accurately. (NOPE.)

I'm certain I'm going round in circles now. The game seems to think I'm making progress, so maybe this prison consists of a number of identical towers.

Game design hint: Don't make a level that consists of identical towers.

Something explodes and all the prisoners and Judges are set on fire! Hmm... maybe the Lawgiver's got a mode that'll help... nope. Half a dozen ways to set things on fire, not one single way to put fires out. Sorry guys.

I found a Med-Judge just around the corner casually walking away from the scene. He gave me a medkit, but he didn't care about the other guys.

I killed all the vampires and rearrested the few perps that survived. Hooray.

Unfortunately for the citizens of Mega-City One, the Dark Judges have meanwhile mind-controlled a Psi-Judge into releasing them from their magic crystal prison device doo-dad. Judge Dredd... was nowhere near the scene, apparently.

I'll be honest. I have no idea what's going on. Pressing a key skips cutscenes, so I missed the rest of this cutscene when I took this screenshot of the Dark Judges. When the next level started, it overwrote the autosave and I didn't have any saves in the prison. There's no way I'm redoing this level just to see what happens next. If Rebellion want to write a game without a screenshot button and where I can't replay cutscenes of my choice from the main menu, then they're going to get a shitty half-arsed post.

As far as I'm concerned, Dredd half-saved the day and then got bored or something before he actually got to the part of the prison where the Dark Judges were.

We cut to him riding a bike somewhere else in the city entirely tracking down a death cult that can provide the Dark Judges with corporeal form.

Why is it always the case in fiction that ghosts want to be given corporeal form to gain MEGA POWERS, and mortals want to become ghosts in order to gain MEGA POWERS?

There's gangs of hoodlums up ahead. Dredd introduces himself by ordering them to drop their weapons, and then tilting his bike onto its side and slamming it into them.

It's hard (but not impossible!) to shoot the guns out of a perps' hands, certainly harder when THEY TOOK MY SNIPER ASSAULT RIFLE AWAY, but the cult leaders are 'too dedicated' to fall for that whole 'being disarmed puts you at a big disadvantage' thing. They just run over and pick their gun up again. And if they can't find their gun, they punch you in the face. And it takes off a lot of health.

Stumm Gas grenades for all! Either there weren't any gas grenades in the previous two levels, or the game didn't tell me that I'd found some but my inventory was full. If you don't tell me that there are grenades on the ground that I can't pick up, how am I supposed to know where to come back to when I run out of grenades? BLUH.


The gangs are the only ones on the streets tonight. I thought this place was supposed to be overcrowded and full of street life.

What's that in the far background? Why, it's crates full of delicious, totally immersion-breaking, product placement! My mission objective is to stop the -blank- gang from smuggling in crates of illegal -blank-. Like hell they would have -blank- in the 22nd century. Who'd make it? What would it be made from?

I'm bored now.

I want to shoot people with Dredd's big gun, but there's nobody to shoot. When I do find people, I can't shoot them the way I want to. There's nothing really wrong with the game unlike, say, RoboCop, I'm just being picky.

The sad thing is that nobody will play this game. People who don't care about Judge Dredd won't play it because it's about Judge Dredd. Judge Dredd fans probably won't play it because it's not Judge Dredd enough. I'm not going to play it because I'm sick of being hit and not knowing about it.


1 comment:

  1. Wow! This was a great flavor piece on this game...thanks! Really enjoyed it (funny!)


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