Developed by Gremlin Interactive and published by Activision in North America and Gremlin in Europe in 1997, Judge Dredd on the PlayStation is an on-rails lightgun shooter in a similar vein to something like Virtua Cop, only much, much worse.
The game mixes live action FMV (Full Motion Video) with 3D graphics and pre-rendered backgrounds, although it manages to do this in a highly unsatisfactory way. The FMV sections do a pretty bad job of recreating the characters from the comics (and it is based on the comics, not the 1995 film) and the Judge costumes in particular are low budget and amateurish. The ‘sets’ are mostly digital and movement is conveyed by having them animate behind the live action actors. Dialogue and acting is also fairly sub-standard.
The shooter sections are okay with a lightgun, but clunky with a gamepad, and the fast-moving screen can be hard to keep up with at times. Not that you’ll care as you blast through this abomination of a video game. The game can be played cooperatively, with a second player, which is something positive to say about it.
The story involves Judge Dredd on a mission to save a mayor who has been taken hostage by criminals and is set over fourteen different levels. The idea is to shoot hostiles that are trying to kill you and to survive to reach the end of each section, as the screen follows a set pre-rendered path through a level. Innocent civilians will sometimes wander into a scene and you need to differentiate these from the bad guys and avoid shooting them. You get five continues to start with and the game will end if you shoot too many innocents.
I don’t want to dwell on this game for too long because it really does sully the name of the classic comic series. I was actually shocked when I played this for the first time recently. The gameplay and graphics are poor, even for the time, and the game was universally panned by reviewers when it first came out.
If you like lightgun games then there might be something in this adaptation of Judge Dredd that could appeal to you, but if you’re a Judge Dredd or a 2000AD fan then I’d recommend giving it a wide berth.
See also: 2000AD Special.