Thursday, 20 September 2012

Judge Dredd (PSX)

Adventures in Judge Dredd Games - Part 4

Judge Dredd 1997 game PlayStation title screen
Whoa, I thought his pistol in the earlier Judge Dredd games looked a bit wimpy, but now they've gone full speed in the other direction. That thing really looks like it could fire half a dozen different kinds of bullets. At once.

By 1997 the Judge Dredd franchise had left the 16-bit era behind for a new start on the PlayStation. Of course they couldn't call this 'Judge Dredd 2', because that might make their new audience feel like they were missing out on a game. But they couldn't be bothered to come up with a subtitle either, so yeah this is the fifth game in the franchise with the same name. In a row.

This time though I'll have no excuse for not knowing what's going on, because a friend turned up at my door with 50 issues of 2000AD telling me he was sick of my ignorance, and that I needed to read some Judge Dredd already so that I know what I'm talking about.

Now I'm finally ready to play one of these games properly.

Holy shit, it's FMV! I honestly didn't see this coming, there's not a mention of it on the box.

It's pretty well made too, featuring people who I can believe are actors dressed in outfits that look like they're from a high budget fan film. Not high enough to afford a set though, obviously.

This looks like it was made by someone who gives a shit, and they haven't compromised on the design. Scroll up and compare it to the comic cover, they've totally nailed it. Well okay his boss's outfit does look a little bit like spray painted cardboard, but that just adds to the charm.

Dredd's actor's got a bit of a resemblance to Karl Urban (at least from the mouth down), and sounds like Dirty Harry with laryngitis. He's not terrible in the role, but I wish he wouldn't whisper every line.

The intro explains that an unidentified lunatic has taken the mayor hostage and has enough weaponry to level 50 city blocks. He wants Dredd, and he'll keep killing people until the Judges give him up.

I think it's funny he's gone to all this trouble, when he's the first one to point out that you could get Dredd coming after you just by dropping a candy bar wrapper. It's not a challenge to get his attention.

Okay this shot of him riding around on his bike looks a bit ropey, but they're doing the best they can with what they got.

I mean it's nice CGI for the era, but stick an actor in front of it and he looks like he's in a cartoon. Or a 90s sci-fi TV series.

Dredd enters City Hall to rescue the hostages, blasting his way in with high explosive rounds.

Hang on, that's not the gun from the title screen. Not that I'm complaining, it looks great. At first I thought it was a prop from the Stallone movie, but nope. For all I know it's a toy they've painted over, but even if that's the case, they've chosen an excellent toy.

Hey, it's a lightgun shooter! An arcade lightgun shooter in fact. It didn't mention that on the box either. All I've got here right now is a pad, but I'll struggle through the best I can.

Oh crap, I probably should have figured out what the reload button is before we stepped into the room. The game is a rail shooter, with 3D enemies superimposed onto a video clip background, so there's no way I can duck behind cover to sort my gun out.

The camera pauses for a second, enemies teleport in, and I have to stand there in the open getting shot while I drag the cursor over to each enemy in turn. On the plus side, I'm able to soak up a bit of damage, so being a sitting duck for a while isn't going to kill me.

Well okay a few more mistakes like that will actually kill me with penalty damage, but how was I supposed to know they were innocents? I suppose if I waited a second I'd have noticed they were unarmed and waving at me, but I'm kind of in a hurry here, seeing as I'm being shot at.

Hey, don't duck under my shots you asshole, it's annoying. I'm using a pad so it takes me a while to adjust my aim, and I need to get a few shots on target to kill anything.

I've no clue who that guy on the screens is, but he keeps distracting me with his smug face. It's so weird to see a FMV clip playing on a pre-rendered background, with real-time low detail polygon enemies jumping in front of it, and the camera moving around the whole time. Nice effect though, and really well done.

It probably wasn't easy to stick these real-time characters behind the dash of a pre-rendered jeep either. Shame I have to shoot them all really.

Hey, that's not so bad for someone stuck using a pad I think.

Oh... well I fucked up a bit there. Apparently I missed out on every pickup on the level. It's possible I was supposed to shoot up things like the TV screens to find them. At least I hope that's what I have to do, because I can't think of anything else I can try.


Dredd actually stole that jeep from the last level, and now we're driving through a level. Shame he can't drive in a straight line though, at least not when he's shooting out of the window. If he'd just stop ramming it into walls I wouldn't be stuck here defending myself. It's more awkward than usual because now I'm shooting little smudges of pixels in the distance.

See, I thought so. Power ups hidden inside the TV... things. The future is weird.

Oh right, they're rail mounted TV machine gun turrets. It's an ingenious defence system really. I know I need to destroy the gun quickly, but I'm always tempted to put a few bullets in his smug face instead.

Actually if there's a chance there's another health pack in there, then it may be the more sensible thing for me to shoot. I imagine I'd be doing a lot better if I got all the hidden pick ups along the way instead of just going straight for the enemies.

This time I got a little FMV clip of Dredd shooting people as a reward for finishing the level. He kind of wrecked the car though, so now we're back on foot.


This level's giving me a crazy amount of things to hit at once. I'm still working on taking out the third turret, while enemies are teleporting in, and the train in the background is shooting the crap out of me. My poor cursor can only aim at one thing at a time!

As Dredd narrowly escapes the onslaught by hiding on a lift, his team phones up with more intel. It seems the perp goes by the name Royston Bean, a former Tek-Judge who recently escaped from prison.

Though they're a little confused about how a genius like Bean with a good career could have ended up with life imprisonment.

Dredd explains that "Bean was scouring the network for lewd and unsavoury entertainment material. An odious crime and obvious breach of department regulations clearly demonstrating a gross misuse of the justice computer system", so he had to arrest him.

Even Dredd wouldn't give a guy life for just viewing porn though. It turns out he killed a Judge while resisting arrest.


There's a close up look at one of those robots for you, so you can admire the glorious 1997 3d graphics. I'm sure there's a reason in one of the comics why this thing's dressed like a Judge, but all I know is it'll be putting bullets in me if I don't get him first.

Turn out the guy has a gunship too. Fortunately I had a few screen clearing super bombs saved up, and used them to quickly take out his machine guns. So right now it's just a big useless metal target, and I just have to wait for the video to get to the point where it automatically explodes.

These levels are really tiny by the way, that one took under two minutes. Now I'm onto world 2.


I'm really getting my ass kicked now. I mean enemies are actually coming up to the screen and kicking me. I really wish Dredd wouldn't just stand out in the open like this and expect me to shoot a screen full of enemies before they can hit him. This isn't an 80s action movie, and I'm not Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I know I should be shooting away parts of the background for power ups, but I have no idea where. It's all concrete and corrugated metal on this level, with nothing obvious to fire at. The level's a bit rubbish really compared to the earlier ones.

Awesome, Dredd actually gets to interact with someone for once. As best I can tell, Dredd basically drives this poor guy to tears just to find out what robots are waiting for him in the next room. Like this information will in some way affect his tactics and approach.

Seriously Dredd, everyone knows you have only one tactic, and that's to slowly walk around the room, shooting everyone in your line of sight.


These must be those combat drones the guy was telling me about. I decided focus all my gunfire on shutting it down, and take care of the other enemies later, but it it's not really working out for me. Mainly because the thing refuses to blow up, and it's soon joined by another one.


I mean aside from being game over. Man, just when I think I finally know what Judge Dredd is about, a big laughing skull comes up to show me that I still don't know shit.

I think out of the five Judge Dredd games I've played so far, this is the one I enjoyed the most, even without a lightgun. Probably because although it's incredibly basic, it's never boring I always get Dredd killed before the boring levels. Plus there is a noticeable lack of wandering around a maze looking for switches/boxes/perps/food dispensers etc. and that alone puts it ahead of the last few games. It even has a two player co-op mode, even though you're clearly going in alone. Maybe the second guy is playing as Dredd's other arm, I don't know.

I read up on the game afterwards, and it turns out that it's not just dressed up to look like an arcade game, it actually is a port of an arcade machine, and the two versions look basically identical. It really is exactly what you'd expect an arcade shooter to be; fast, short and bloody difficult. I'm not familiar enough with the genre to say if it's actually any good, but it at least gives the impression of being fairly well made.

And that's the end of Judge Dredd week. I bet mecha-neko would have shown up to show off Judge Dredd: Dread vs. Death for his FPS Friday thing tomorrow, but he's already played it, so he can't.

Like always, if you've got an opinion, feel free to leave a comment.


  1. If you have the MAME arcade emulator you should give the Judge Dredd arcade prototype a try.

    1. I wouldn't want to play a prototype for the site, but I've seen a video of the game in action and it definitely looks... special. Chunky digitised Judge Dredd punching clowns over a background made from Star Trek model kits, on the day everyone in Mega-City One decided to take their pet Goro for a walk.

      I don't know if it was cancelled at an early stage when it still had placeholder artwork in, or if they were actually planning to release it in that state, but either way it's an interesting disaster.

  2. The robot is a Mechanismo. They were supposed to be used as ersatz judges, but Something Went Wrong. Look them up on Wikipedia if you'd like to know more.

    You've probably already guessed this, but the giant laughing skull is Judge Death, of Dredd vs. Death fame.

    1. Thanks, I really was wondering about those guys. Four days of Dredd games was enough to make me a genuine fan of the series. Well actually 50 issues of classic 2000AD was what did it, but the games sparked my curiosity. Shame they were a bit rubbish really.

  3. Did you take a look at Strontium Dog in 2000 AD? It's made by the same people and it's brilliant. I'm finished the complete re-edition these days.

    1. Yeah I've seen a bit of Strontium Dog. He's got a story running in the back of my stack of ancient issues, so I was reading through that as well. It's been a year since I read it though and the only thing that really stuck with me is that I didn't like his hat, so maybe I should give the guy another shot.


Semi-Random Game Box