Ubi Soft. Even in the infancy of the Xbox, the mere mention of the company’s name triggers images of Tom Clancy-inspired gaming masterpieces, such as Rainbow Six 3, Ghost Recon(And Ghost Recon: Island Thunder), and Splinter Cell. We, as Xbox gamers, have also seen an entry from the critically acclaimed Myst series, as well as some platformers like Rayman and the updated version of Dragon’s Lair. However, Ubi Soft is also responsible for a relatively less-known, sports/fighting hybrid game called Deathrow. Maybe its name has allowed it to slip under the proverbial radar. This game isn’t about incarcerated inmates waiting to die. In fact, they should have called it Profanity-laced, Ass-kicking, Super, Glowing, Futuristic Frisbee Fest 2002. Ok, so maybe their name is better after all, but I’ll bet you’re interested now, aren’t you? Of course you are.
The year is 2219. ‘Blitz’ – which started out as not just an illegal sport, but also a brutal way for gang members to initiate new members – is now on a mainstream TV network. It even has its own league: the BDA, or Blitz Disc Association. Pick your team, and compete in the 1st ever official Blitz competition!
Did you ever play that frisbee golf game in P.E. as a kid?
The object was to pass around a frisbee amongst your teammates, and eventually throw it into a funnel-type goal. Deathrow is exactly like that game, except its setting is the future and your P.E. teacher isn’t there to referee. Does that make a big difference, you might wonder? I’d say so, since the absence of that pudgy, hip-hugger, short-wearing whistle-blowing loser allows you to salute the other team with obscene gestures, swear at them, and basically beat them senseless. I’m certain that, if the opposing team brought their puppies with them, you’d be able to kick them too. This game is brutal. However, you can win one of two ways: score more goals than the other team, or, as previously stated, beat them senseless until there is no one left on the opposing team healthy enough to play. If you’re going to take the score-more-than-them strategy, you’ll be throwing a glowing energy disc through a glowing energy ring. The ring often functions like a motion detector, because in some arenas, you can score from either side of it. All the disc has to do is pass through it and you score a goal. For the player you have control of at any given time, however, scoring is completely unnecessary. You can play an entire game, beating the other team senseless, and just let your teammates worry about scoring. There are also bonuses to collect like money, health, and momentum boosters. These all help you to beat the other team senseless. Guess which tactic I prefer? Yeah, I’m all about senseless beatings. Not only can you punch and kick an opponent, but once they are on the ground, you can continue to stomp on them. It’s a very rewarding experience. However, be advised that the more you stomp on and senselessly beat someone, they more they will remember it! You can also employ any of five general strategies: Maximum Defense, Defense, Neutral, Attack, and, my personal favorite, All Out Attack (let the senseless beatings begin!)
Deathrow is an exclusive, ‘Only on Xbox’ title, so there’s no lazy porting to be seen here. Character models are done well, and done with lots of animations. Ubi Soft claims there are 140 fighting and scoring moves. This game looks fluid and smooth, so if they say it, then that’s good enough for me. The arenas in which you play Blitz are also very detailed, and do a good job of immersing you into their futuristic sport. If you used to spend many a sleepless night trying to imagine what (insert your favorite sport here) would look like 200 years from now, imagine no more – this is it. There’s lots of cold steel, multi-level surfaces, ramps, cool power-up pads, and floating camera units to catch all the frantic action. Everything looks just as it should.