Modern Classics is a review-esque thing I'll be doing every once in a while, mostly just because I can, but also to keep my writing skills alive over the summer(even if they were barely alive in the first place). There are no indents because it won't let me for some reason.
What do you get when you cross basketball, rugby, and professional wrestling, replace the ball with a space-age Frisbee, throw in some robots and ninjas, and pump everything with 14 thousand gallons of steroids? You get the best fucking sports game ever. Deathrow, developed for the Xbox by SouthEnd Interactive and published by Ubisoft in 2002, is the best sports game you've probably never heard of.
Deathrow, contrary to the what the title might make you think, is not a game about prison. The name refers to a charged up throw that explodes when it hits something. It is one of the few games that actually makes up its own sport that could really only be played in a videogame. The premise of the game is a futuristic sport called Blitz, a competition between two teams of four to get the space-age anti-gravity Frisbee through the other team's goal, by any means necessary. You can choose play with rules, but, honestly, who wants to do that? There are two overall modes in the game: sports view, which has an overhead camera, and action view, which has a Zeldalike 3rd person camera. Action view is much more fun to play.
The best thing about Deathrow is simply that it's really fun. The game obviously doesn't take itself too seriously, what with all the robots and Ninjas and excessive swearing and Mortal Kombat style violence. This is game in which a Robot will scream "Fuck you, Bitch!" in his electronic robovoice, roundhouse kick someone in the face, and run off with their Frisbee. The teams are pretty nuts, consisting of robots, ninjas, mutants, space marines, cyborgs, women in wetsuits with ridiculous Russian accents, asteroid miners, convicts, and a few others. Each team has two arena's specific to them, one for action view, and one for sports view. The sports view ones (which can also be played are your basic rectangles and ovals, but the action view levels are much more interesting, with jump pads, multiple tiers, and other obstacles.
The game also has more depth than you might think at first. Once you get used to the controls, you'll learn to time your attacks, how to use the slide kick and tackle for more than attacking, when and how to throw the disc for maximum accuracy, how to curve a shot, how to use Deathrows, and other tactics. There's even a dedicated flip the bird button (as seen above), which can be used to distract enemy AI. The game has 4 player splitscreen (with the game's excellent AI filling in the empty spots), and 8-player system link, but sadly no online play. One of the Unlockable modes adds two more Frisbees to the game, which is chaotic as hell, but fun as hell too.
However, the game is, of course, not perfect. The movement controls can be annoying sometimes, particularly when strafing, though eventually you'll get used to it. There's no online play, and splitscreen could be a bit difficult to play on smaller TV's. the game can be pretty hard in single player, and it will take a pretty long time to unlock everything without cheating.
There are tons of unlockables, mostly teams and arenas unlocked in the career mode, but there's also a cheat if you want to skip all that: just enter SouthEnd as your profile name. The game has terrible techno music, but thankfully gives you the option to use custom soundtracks. I recommend "King of the Surf Guitar: The Best of Dick Dale & The Del-Tones." The surf rock is a perfect fit for the game. If you have a 360 you can play the game too, since it's backwards compatible. The graphics have aged pretty well, so it won't hurt your little eyes if you're spoiled by fancy modern graphics. Gamestop sells the game used for really cheap, around 5 bucks. If you see it, get it, you won't be disappointed.
Deathrow is an over the top, action packed, excessively macho sports game that is definitely one of a kind. It's awesome.