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Dead Connection (Arcade) artwork

Dead Connection (Arcade) review


"Don Nerozzia knows the rules. When a man stands in your way, you bribe him, blackmail him, or influence those around him to neutralize the threat. If he’s unimpeachable, then maybe, just maybe, you reward him with a bullet to the back of the head. You certainly don’t gun down his lady in the street and expect him to slink away. Especially not with Philip, the leader of men making a stand against a gigantic crime. Yes, Nerozzia knows the rules; he just chose to ignore them. So now th..."



Don Nerozzia knows the rules. When a man stands in your way, you bribe him, blackmail him, or influence those around him to neutralize the threat. If he’s unimpeachable, then maybe, just maybe, you reward him with a bullet to the back of the head. You certainly don’t gun down his lady in the street and expect him to slink away. Especially not with Philip, the leader of men making a stand against a gigantic crime. Yes, Nerozzia knows the rules; he just chose to ignore them. So now that Agent Philip is a widower, it’s up to his company of G-men vigilantes to show the Sicilians that revenge is a dish best served piping hot, delivered through the barrel of a smoking .45.

Once you select a hero out of four technicolor trenchcoats – there’s no substantial difference between the characters besides the shade of their outerwear – it’s time to stop corruption wherever it stands. In the first level you burst into the lobby of a ritzy hotel, complete with a pair of red-carpeted staircases. Soon bullet holes pockmark the alabaster veneer. Stone statues shatter as you scurry for cover. Candlelit tables overturn and burst into raging conflagrations. Eventually, the crystal chandelier crashes magnificently in the middle of the chaos. Similarly destructible elements populate all the environments: a four-star restaurant, a fountain square park... not even Mrs. Mafia's garden party escapes the carnage. There’s grimy alleys and junkyards too, but the upscale targets deliver a powerful message: you’re taking it to these scumbags where they live. It’s absolute mayhem, and it’s absolutely sublime.

And there are plenty of thugs to keep you company. Dead Connection would be an intense beat-em-up, except most everyone decided to bring a gun to this fight. Its presentation maximizes the tension. Rather than scroll through a stage, all the enemies swarm into the location and seek you out. Everyone is active; you’re coming for them, they’re gunning for you, and it generates frantic energy. In that first level, thirty thugs pour into the atrium in waves, from every corner of the screen. By the last, that number more than doubles (it’s even greater when two are playing). And the only way to clear these and the six levels in between is to kill every last cannoli-toting goombah. Within a time limit of course. No sense letting things cool down.

The task might be impossible if the computer had brains, but its intelligence vacillates between idiotic and inspired. Here’s a moment illustrating both. One stage takes place in a warehouse, and a small enclosed office serves as a perfect bunker, a place to set up shop and pick off hapless victims as they enter. However, only a few hoodlums take the bait. The rest are too busy congregating on the roof, trying to perforate the ceiling with a hail of hot lead that would severely wound your life meter. If it could only get through. Call it sophomoric skill.

Then there are the extremes. Duller members of the crew come armed with bats and machetes, and they’ll march directly toward you, hoping to land one blow before slumping to the ground. They’re so single-minded that they happily immolate themselves in any blaze standing betwixt them and their goal. Most gangsters engage in a more intelligent type of warfare, planting their asses behind whatever safety they can find, then unleashing their Chicago typewriters when you step out into the open.

Sadly, the bosses also fall into the generic, dense category. Though their graphics are unique, each is just a beefed-up version of a regular foot soldier, and he’ll stand in the open and take your fire. Not a challenging standoff when he’s the only foe on screen. At least one doesn’t even bother to fight back. He’ll saunter into the picture, light up a stogie and puff away, allowing his pair of more resourceful bodyguards to do all the work, even after said bodyguards have flickered into oblivion.

Still, you have a better defense against these mobsters than their own indifference. For one, your bullets are smarter than some of them. There’s no need to line up exactly with your intended target; shots bend a little to hit the most likely mark within their general path. Of course, the same physics apply to unfriendly fire, which is where your second trick comes in handy. Philip and his pals can duck and somersault across the floor, and during that moment they can’t be shot. Perhaps it sounds cheap, but it provides Dead Connection with a much needed element of patience and skill. A judicious player can clear this game with a remarkably small stack of quarters.

Certainly for less than it would take to rent a cheap gangster flick, and you even get a condensed version of that here. It’s more than the opening sequence, where the hero holds his departed dearest in his arms as dramatic lines – complete with awkward grammar – splash across the screen to build up the moment. They begin fighting, keeping anger in their heart. A few panels appear between each level to chronicle your progress up the underworld food chain. Nerozzia’s a slippery one though, and there are twists and traps that cast doubt on who actually holds the upper hand. Just know one thing. Justice is served. Bollente.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by woodhouse (July 06, 2006)

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