Judge Dredd has had many outings onto nearly every gaming platform, and unfortunately, most of these attempts have been half-complete, shoddy, cheap, cash-ins. It pains me to say this, but Dredd vs Death is one of these. I have been a Judge Dredd, and consequently a 2000AD fan, since the first time I picked one of these magazines up and read Tharg’s editorial. I doubt that there is another comic universe out there with the depth of background and characters as the 2000AD world, which is why it’s so disappointing that Dredd vs Death seems to utterly ignore all of this and instead goes for some utterly unrelated product placement that drags the game down further.
Graphically Dredd vs Death is unremarkable. Having been out for more than a year in Australia and other parts of the world, that it is only finally seeing US release means that, well, it’s not looking its best. Dredd vs Death is also firmly stuck in the last generation of graphics engines, and even then it might have looked disappointing. However, for fans of the 2000AD universe, Rebellion has still managed to give gamers a bit of a treat, with the in-game graphics unmistakably modelled from the artwork of several of 2000AD‘s most recognizable artists, especially those of Carlos Ezguerra. To walk through what at first seems to be a fairly convincing version of Mega City One is an absolute delight, with all manner of crazy looking characters surrounding you. It’s not until later that you realize there are so few character models in the game that you could probably count them all on both hands. And that’s where Dredd vs Death really falls flat on its face.
Further, the sound in Dredd vs Death is nothing more than passable really. With limited in-game phrases, standard music and dull weapon sounds, it all really goes nowhere; this is not an aural masterpiece.
Repetition is the bane of any game, and for the amount of repetition in this game, Rebellion should be spending some serious time in the iso-cubes. Find the switch/key game play has always been linear – and having to backtrack an entire map to arrest that one perp who you missed at the very start of the level becomes tedious after the first time. Thankfully, amongst all of this is a highly playable shooter with a decent (if somewhat short) campaign and several silly “arcade mode” levels which are used to unlock characters, maps and cheats. Being forced to unlock things is something that just goes against the grain with me, but its implementation in Dredd vs Death is at least one that retains some joy in the process.
Multiplayer has a variety of modes, all of which are deathmatch, thankfully, and the network coding at least appears to be stable, though the somewhat limited choices of maps, characters and weapons means that this won’t be what the game is remembered for. There is a co-op mode to play through the Dredd vs Death single player, which was unfortunately unable to be tested during this review, though simply having co-op endears this game to me and no doubt to a great many other PC gamers who wish that more games had it.
Overall, though a fun and simple game, Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death is certainly not one that will turn heads or be remembered by anyone, other than fans of the series, after a few weeks. Wait for the bargain bin, unless you are a genuine 2000AD fan-boy.