DeathRow Review

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by JamesH, Oct 27, 2002.

  1. JamesH

    JamesH Supporting Actor

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    I just picked up DeathRow today on the strength of IGN's review and I must say I'm very impressed with it after several hours of play. It's a refreshing and innovative experience and it's nice to have a good playing Xbox game with graphics that couldn't be done on the other two systems.
    Graphics- Simply put, this game looks outstanding. It definately has the best graphics on the Xbox(DOA3 excluded). This is one of the few Xbox games to have that extra little layer of detail that the box is capable of. The graphics engine appears very similar to what is in Halo, with less emphasis on textures(since the ultra high rez isn't needed here) and more emphasis on special effects. The light sourcing is amazing, with lighting of various colors coming from all directions. The pixel shading/bump mapping is out in full force, Rallisport Challenge Ice Race style. The arenas all feature the awesome Halo style reflective surfaces. They're all well done and varied, with my two favorite so far being a ninja dojo(with a mountain range you can see through the windows), and an underwater arena, which actually has dolphins swimming under the glass below your feet. All in all, this is a damn fine effort, although you probably won't be able to see all of the detail if you don't have an HDTV.
    Sound- The music is some sort of futuristic techno rock, good, but forgettable. I've heard you can use your own but I haven't bothered to look into it yet...that would be perfect for this type of game(and also may explain why they didn't put much time into synthing music for it). The sound is great though. Bone crunching tackles, roaring crowds....and did I mention the cursing ? This game is delightfully obscene, and it's an absolute riot. The players always have something to say, and it really helps draw you into the game and adds to the immersion factor. They actually took the time to record pre-match insults specific to each team, which was an extremely nice touch. One of my favorites so far was when my team(Ex death row convicts fighting for freedom) was told by the CPU (team of army soldiers) "We're going to be your own personal execution squad, Motherfuckers". During the match, if the people around you aren't cursing enough for your tastes, you can hit the black button on the controller to throw out a taunt.
    Gameplay- This game is basically violent 4 on 4 futuristic frisbee hockey, if that makes any sense. You can play it from an elevated camera and it will control similar to most sports games, or you can play from a Max Payne style camera and it will control similar to a first person shooter. Although initially you'll be more comfortable with the sports view, the game is much more entertaining and unique once you get used to the action view. The face buttons are used for:
    Punch/Pass
    Shoot/Kick(combos similar to jacky's spinning kicks in Virtua Fighter)
    Evade(my characters so far do a simple roll although I've seen the Ninja team doing flips/cartwheels)
    Jump(self explanatory)
    The black button and white button are used for switching players and taunting, respectively.
    You can also hold down L which acts as sort of a shift key, and it will let you do an awesome diving tackle or a sliding soccer tackle when combined with the punch or kick button.
    Holding down R causes your player to face the disc.
    Punch+Kick will let you grab an opposing player and do assorted mean things to him.
    You win the match either by beating up the other team so badly that they can't continue(tough to do), or scoring more goals. The teams are all very varied, both in looks(ninjas, soldiers, robots, ect) and play style, and the matchups all play out very differently. Against a fast and agile team, I got off to a quick 5-0 disadvantage. However, I was able to keep pummeling the other team with my squad of convicts and by the final period, they were crippled pretty badly and I was walking all over them. In addition to the great variety in team matchups, there are also tons of arenas and each causes the game to be played differently. Some are small cramped areas that lead to high scoring games, whereas others are vast multi-level affairs where each goal counts. So far, I only have 2 minor gripes with the gameplay. The first is that there is no radar showing the arena/players/disc ect, which would have been very helpful. However, the game does do a good job of making sure you know where the disc is in relation to your player, and also which team has possession. The other is that since play doesn't stop when a goal is scored, the computer can some times rack up several goals in rapid succession and destroy a decent lead. It works the other way too though, and I've made some thrilling comebacks myself. I should also mention that the AI is great and your computer teammates will score goals and fight instead of sitting around like idiots. You don't have to take point if you don't want to, instead you can just beat people up and let your teammates score for you.
    Presentation: There are several nice touches, like the ability to train players, and you also get emails between matches. Sometimes you'll get a chance to place a bet on a match, and occasionally you'll be offered drugs that might give you a stat boost or might mess you up. There are also random events that can cost or give you money. I made a bit of extra cash by signing a "sponsorship deal", but I have also lost money from "my bank account being hacked", and my team of convicts completely vandalizing a hotel. These events are all shown with still pictures, it would have been nice to have some CG or game engine cut scenes.
    Overall: Although the futuristic extreme sports gimmick may be a bit cliche and cause you to shy away, I highly suggest that you check this game out. This game wasn't even on my radar due to the premise until I read IGN's review, but after playing it, I can definately say it's in the top 5 Xbox games, and a killer exclusive for MS. It takes a bit of time to get into due to the complicated(but actually very well thought out) controls, but once you master them, Deathrow is near perfect.
     
  2. Brian J Dupuis

    Brian J Dupuis Second Unit

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    Thanks for the extensive impressions, James. I'm all but convinced I'm going to have to buy this one, if I can find the damned thing locally. Just sold Halo at Half.com and hopefully Sega GT 2002 will sell equally quickly (down to just Rallisport Challenge in the library... really pairing it down!) so I can make space and cash for that and Splinter Cell later [​IMG].
     
  3. James Zos

    James Zos Supporting Actor

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    Great review. I can't wait to check this game out. I wonder why it is getting so little attention? Seemed like there were plenty of previews for it and now that it's out you don't hear much of anything at all. By the way, you CAN rip your own music to the game, if you weren't sure about that.
     
  4. Dan B

    Dan B Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the impressions. There is a pretty positive response on this game in the internet forums. IGN really gave 'er a nice review, too. I hope to at least give this one a rental soon to see how I like it.


    -Dan
     
  5. Brian J Dupuis

    Brian J Dupuis Second Unit

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    Of course, actually purchasing this thing might be easier said than done. I went on a little hunt at lunch today, hitting EB Games, Electronics Boutique, Toys 'R' Us, Best Buy, and Target and none of them had it. I'm gonna have to get medieval on somebody [​IMG].
     
  6. JamesH

    JamesH Supporting Actor

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    I noticed that Deathrow was hard to find too. I wonder if some stores aren't carrying it? Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, and Circuit City all did not have it, although the other games that shipped on 10/22 were all readily available. I finally found it at Comp USA of all places.

    Anyways, after more playtime, all I can say is that my impressions are getting even more positive. There are some AWESOME arenas as you get further that have a huge impact on strategy. I'd say based on current releases only, this is the Xbox GOTY hands down, although I can also see how a few people may not like it.

    I checked the options and you can put your own music playlist in if you like, which really adds to the game. Some other likes-

    Sometimes when you do a grapple attack, the game freezes and pans around matrix style. I have an enforcer type player who does a short-arm clothesline and I always get a kick out of the matrix effect.

    I unlocked a new player for my team known as "The Gimp". The name speaks for itself, he's about what you'd expect. He's become my go-to guy of sorts, and occasionally goes on wild runs where he scores 5 or so goals in a row.

    I played an absolutely brutal team known as The Demons and it demonstrated just how important the "team play" rating is. They basically kicked the crap out of me with suplexes, backbreakers, ect., and ran up a decent lead. However, they have a low teamwork rating, and once I realized that they were more concerned with kicking my ass than scoring, I was able to pull out a win.
     
  7. Brian J Dupuis

    Brian J Dupuis Second Unit

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  8. JamesH

    JamesH Supporting Actor

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    It does have a pretty high learning curve, I'd give it 20 or so matches before you judge it....but hey, if you end up not liking it, come here and post some impressions so people can make a more informed choice.
     
  9. Duane Robinson

    Duane Robinson Second Unit

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    I told you guys. This game is amazing to say the least. I wasn't even paying attention to it until a little over a week ago. Now I can't stop playing it. I just recently got Quantum Redshift and that game hasn't seen the inside of my Xbox since I got Deathrow, even though I love QR. This game brings out the graphics slut in me to the fullest extent, and unlike Wreckless I don't have to make up any excuses for liking it since the game is so fun and addicting to play. This is my GOTY so far and it's the best game I own on the system right now.
     
  10. Anthony Liz

    Anthony Liz Stunt Coordinator

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    Took the advice here and I'm very happy I did. This game rocks, especially the network play. Only thing I noticed is that I had to turn it up to hear them swearing.
     
  11. Duane Robinson

    Duane Robinson Second Unit

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    Yeah, when you play music with lyrics it's kinda hard to hear the swearing. You can turn the music down in the menu and raise the sound effects volume as high as it goes. I think I'm addicted to this game. I've spent the last couple nights staying up until 5am playing it.
     
  12. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    Everyone seems to be raving about this game. Is it quite easy to just pick up and play? Or does it have a steep learning curve? It seems to be a lot of fun but my friends and I are a little dense at learning the harder sporting games.
     
  13. Duane Robinson

    Duane Robinson Second Unit

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    If you can play FPS then you should be able to play this game. I've watched a lot of those FPS tournaments on Arena on the G4 channel and this game looks just like how the game looks when they show it from the third person perspective. It takes a little while to get used to and good at the controls but as soon as you get it it becomes second nature and you'll be doing all kinds of rolls, jumps, dive tackles, slides, and stuff while beating up your opponents and scoring.
     
  14. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    Well Duane, you can thank yourself for selling me on this game and getting rid of my money. I'll see if I can find it when I go to lunch.
     
  15. Duane Robinson

    Duane Robinson Second Unit

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    Sweet, hope you like it. [​IMG]
     
  16. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    I've just got back from my lunch break and no stores are stocking it in this area, it wasn't even available for rent. I'll have to make a trip on Saturday to EB (about an hour from me). But i'm looking forward to it. [​IMG]
     
  17. JamesH

    JamesH Supporting Actor

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    It's got a bit more of a learning curve than most sports games due to the lighting fast pace, the fact that the L button acts as a "shift" that changes the functions of the two attack buttons, and the fact that every button on the controller is used. It's still not overly difficult though. The one thing that you'll need to get used to is that you need to hold down the R button for a good 85% of the match(keeps you facing either the disc, or the goal if you have the disc). Once you realize that R(face)+L(shift)+ either attack button allows you to deliver a brutal sliding or flying tackle(or dive for the disc), it gets a lot easier.
     
  18. Graeme Clark

    Graeme Clark Cinematographer

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  19. ChristopherS

    ChristopherS Second Unit

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    I still cannot seem to find this game. You would think that retailers like FutureShop would try to carry as many different XBOX titles as possible. I called a local EB and they do not have it either. What a pain in the ass! I want the game now and cannot find it. My luck I will finally find it when MechAssault and SplinterCell also hit the shelves, and in that case DeathRow will have to wait.

    Chris
     
  20. Dave Falasco

    Dave Falasco Screenwriter

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    I completely missed this one as well...I think I got it confused with that wacky futuristic BMX/gameshow/deathmatch game. (Toxic Grind, maybe?). But after reading the reviews here and at the usual places, I am all over this. Thanks for sharing!!
     

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