30 Days of Xbox: Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death

Can I just vote for Death straight away? Is that a thing I can do?
There were always going to be roadbumps in my journey through the Xbox collection, and Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death is a BIG one.
I was inspired to play it largely because I’ve been playing through Rogue Trooper Redux for its review, and both are products of Rebellion software and, naturally enough, stablemates in the 2000AD universe. Dredd is by far the better known, what with being both the flagship character and the star of two very different movies.

This was… not a good movie. He should NEVER take the helmet off! But I still find myself quoting the line about eating recycled food from time to time.

This was… better. But both underfunded, and left owing a LOT to The Raid, obviously.
I’ve got a lot of time for Judge Dredd, and it’s a property that should lend itself very easily to video games. Sure, Dredd is an unrepentant fascist, but he’s a fascist with a cool bike and an even cooler gun, and that’s just scratching the surface of the action/satire hybrid that lies at the core of the character.
Scratch at Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death, however, and you get something very different, however.
Something that stinks. It’s been an age (as it has with most of the rest of my Xbox collection) since I’ve bothered playing this, which means the first thing I have to do is play through one of the most tedious, poorly planned tutorial levels I’ve ever witnessed.

My instructor looks like a Muppet, only with significantly less personality.
My instructor looks like a Muppet, only with significantly less personality.

It looks terrible, controls poorly and doesn’t really teach me much. So much so, that when I’m meant to be arresting a robot, I accidentally punched it in the face. No, for once, this was an accident, especially as it meant I had to start the damned tutorial again.
The problem is, it gets no better once I’m in the “full” game, even though I can see the spirit was there to produce something genuinely faithful to the core Dredd mythos, which is more than I can say for the efforts of Mr Stallone and co. Within the technical constraints of the Xbox, everything looks suitably Mega-City One-ish, if a little low resolution.
At least until they start moving. Judge Joe Dredd will tonight be played by the part of a fascist Muppet, random characters will run into walls, and enemies will soak up bullets like they were made out of wadded up paper and glue. When I fire a Lawgiver, I expect some impact and kickback, but this just doesn’t happen, at all.
Sure, it’s kind of fun engaging in totalitarian ego trips like arresting everyone I see, because in Mega-City One, simply being in the presence of a judge is pretty much grounds for arrest on some spurious reason or another.
This fattie, for example, is clearly breaking the law of gravity.
That’s not some kind of poor weight gag, either. He’s literally floating off the ground for no reason at all!

It’s just that it’s so astonishingly poorly executed, which is kind of ironic when you consider what Dredd ends up having to do to folks who won’t submit to the law.
How long did I play for? About 40 minutes, which shows I’m a sucker for punishment. Yes, there were more unlockables and more levels, but I have my limits, people!
That can only mean it’s time for the…

Fat Duck Tech Retro Xbox Game Rankings

  1. Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time
  2. Outrun 2
  3. NFL Street
  4. Disney Extreme Skate Adventure
  5. Spy vs Spy
  6. Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death

I agonised over this one more than you might think, but ultimately, Spy vs Spy is just dull, whereas Dredd vs Death is poor on just about every level.
Hopefully Rebellion isn’t getting any fancy ideas about a redux version, unless they’re planning on making some immense visual, gameplay and design changes along the way. I’d pay good money for a top-notch Dredd game, but the closest I suspect I’m likely to get is if I somehow stumble across an affordable version of the Dredd pinball table.
Next up: He’s like an avocado on toast. You know who that means.

Author: Alex

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