Dead to Rights is a third-person action video game produced by Namco. It was released in 2002 as a timed exclusive for the Xbox, and releases for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube followed thereafter. A year after its console debut, the game was released for Microsoft Windows. It was followed by Dead to Rights II in 2004/2005 and Dead to Rights: Retribution on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2010.
Dead to Rights makes use of bullet time, a popular gameplay mechanic of the time. The game advertises itself as drawing inspiration from Hong Kong action cinema, i.e. gun fu. The player is sometimes accompanied by Shadow, a canine partner who can attack enemies on command, and who will automatically kill whatever enemy he's aimed at and then bring the player whatever the enemy was carrying (to keep the dog from being too powerful, his attack can only be used when a meter for it fills up). In some puzzle sections, the player actually takes direct control of Shadow to reach areas that the human character cannot.
Jack Slate is a police officer partnered with his K-9 unit, Shadow. The two patrol Grant City, a metropolis seemingly populated with more criminals than honest citizens. One night while on a routine patrol, Jack responds to a call at a construction zone, only to find his own father murdered. In pursuit of his father's killer, Jack is led through a labyrinth of crime and corruption. He is eventually framed for another murder by the corrupt police chief Richard "Dick" Hennesey, in a bid to stop Jack before he undermines the status quo. However, after seven months in prison, Jack escapes from imprisonment by putting battery acid on the electric chair wires and hunts down Hennesey, clearing away the city's crime lords in the process. He first gets clothes at the apartment he was framed at and goes to Chinatown for information. There he battles Fat Chow and his goons and interrogates Marvin Silt, a goon who tried to run him down outside the prison before a woman named Eve Adams murders Silt. Eve is able to identify the assassin who was hired to frame Jack and the two have to battle Fat Chow and his goons again, with Jack killing Fat Chow before they are able to escape. Afterward Jack visits his father's grave and meets Hildy, his father's former assistant there and he learns from her that his father was investigating the corrupt mayor and police force for mayoral candidate Gloria Exner before his murder. Jack comes under attack by unknown attackers in clown masks, but eventually escapes the cemetery and links up with Eve again to foil an assassination attempt on Exner at a public debate. The two foil the attempt, but Eve is murdered by Patch, the assassin who framed Jack. Jack chases down Patch and causes his limo to crash, but the crash kills Patch, preventing interrogation, although Jack takes his pager.
Jack then protects Gloria Exner from corrupt police officers attempting to murder her and learns a little more about what his father was investigating, but learns Gloria never found out what he knew as he was murdered before he could tell her. After receiving a message on Patch's pager, Jack chases a man named Gofer around the docks hoping for answers, but finds Gofer murdered and is injured. While Hildy helps him, mercenaries led by Rafshoon Digs captured both Hildy and Jack and takes Jack to meet Fahook Ubduhl, a Middle Eastern crime lord who basically runs the Grant City underworld. With the help of Shadow, Jack escapes and finally learns what this is really about: gold. The mayor was running a gold mining operation and Jack's father stumbled on it. Jack returns to the prison where he kills Diggs and confronts the mayor who confirms all he's found out already and fills in the rest: the mayor was running a gold mining and smuggling operation with Fahook. Police chief Hennessey, who is corrupt and blackmailing many people, had his hands in the operation. As he would lose money if the mayor was shut down, Hennessey murdered Slate's father to protect it.
The mayor and Jack ally to take down Hennessey, with Jack getting incriminating files from the police station in exchange for a pardon from the mayor. Jack gets the files (learning at the same time that the attackers in the cemetery were corrupt police officers in disguise), but decides to give them to Exner instead, but Exner betrays him and takes the files to give to the mayor out of fear. However, Exner is murdered by Hildy who is now working for Fahook. She takes the files, but doesn't harm Jack who follows her to an abandoned Air Force base that is Fahook's hideout. There, Hildy is murdered by the mayor after giving Fahook the files and Jack kills the mayor in revenge. Fahook escapes on a plane, but Jack manages to get on board, blowing up the base at the same time. Jack chases Fahook through the plane and battles him in the cargo hold, finally killing him by knocking him out of the plane in mid-flight while getting the files at the same time. The plane crashes back at the airbase and Jack is the only survivor.
Jack then gives the files to reporter Kip Waterman to put on the news before he heads off to get his revenge on Hennessey. At the end of the game, Jack kills Hennessey in the boiler room of an apartment building and leaves town, stating that while he has justice for his father's murder it will take more than him to clear the city of crime. However, Jack states that with Hennessey, Blatz (the man he was framed for murdering) and Fahook, the city's three major crime lords, dead, there will be a struggle for power among the criminal underworld. As Jack revealed the evidence to the media, the FBI investigate the case and presumably clear him of the murder charges, but Jack fakes his death, pretending to have died in the plane crash near the end of the game with only Kip Waterman knowing the truth. During the credits, Preacherman Jones, the man who helped Jack escape from prison and was also framed for a crime, receives a package from Jack with a note saying "faith padre, faith" (what Jack told him earlier in the game when promising to come back for him), a bar of gold and evidence taken from Hennessey's files that could clear Jones' name. Jones then summons a guard to presumably give the evidence to.
The GameCube version received "generally favorable reviews", while the rest of the console versions received "average" reviews according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. In Japan, Famitsu gave the Xbox version a score of 33 out of 40.
Maxim gave the same console version a perfect ten, saying, "The body count is rivaled only by novel game-play features and production values that make blood spurts akin to snowflakes—no two are the same. Looking to put a new action hero on the case? Slate’s the guy. Just pray he doesn’t charge by the bullet." Playboy gave it a score of 85%, while The Cincinnati Enquirer gave it four stars out of five, both saying that "taking it for what it is -- a fast-paced, story-based action game with plenty of enemies and violent ways of eliminating them -- Dead to Rights is a highly enjoyable adult diversion for Xbox owners." However, AllGame gave it a score of three-and-a-half stars out of five, calling it "one of the few tough-as-nails games with the power to keep drawing you back to it, long after you've screamed enough words at the television screen to make a sailor blush." Entertainment Weekly gave it a B−, saying that the Xbox version "is weighed down with too many bad minigames, most of which seem designed with the sole intent of inducing repetitive-stress injuries."
IGN ranked the game at #90 on the list of the Top 100 PlayStation 2 Games. The staff noted that the PS2 version had improved over the Xbox version.