Dead to Rights: Retribution lets the dog out of the cage, again

The original Dead to Rights was my first experience controlling a virtual four-legged friend. Not a cartoon. Not a caricature. Not an anthropomorphic man/dog mashup, but an honest to goodness canis lupis familiaris – the family dog made (not) flesh. And though recent titles like Fable II and Fallout 3 have done a much better job portraying the appearance, mannerisms and personality we’ve come to expect of “Man’s Best Friend,” I’ll always have a soft spot for Dead to Rights‘ Shadow. Loyalty’s not just for dogs, you know.

Seems Namco Bandai agrees, not about loyalty but rather the leaps and bounds game designers have made in virtual canine creation. Why else would they be billing Dead to Rights: Retribution, coming to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 later this year, as a “reimagining” rather than a straight-up prequel?

Players will once again control the deadly duo of Jack Slate and Shadow in their fight to expose the shadowy underworld of Grant City. But this time the game will reportedly be an origin story, explaining how the vice-cop and his furry, feral companion “first come together as partners against those who would bring the once great city to its knees.” In addition to the reimagined characters and narrative is a completely redesigned “hybrid combat system,” which combines hand-to-hand combat, dog-to-neck attacks and shooting “into a visceral, intense and seamless gameplay experience.” It also means you get to push people down stairs and over railings. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

Screenshots released today: