EA’s last wrestling/rap music hybrid game, Def Jam Vendetta, surprised a large number of people a few years back when it came out. It was a pretty solid game that I personally scoffed at until I rented it. It was amazing for me, because I’m not a big fan of rap music. I thought the whole idea of it was lame. Turns out that I was wrong. This year, the sequel to Vendetta is called Def Jam Fight for NY, and as all good sequels do, it uses the original as the foundation, and improves upon it.
The Def Jam Fight for NY picks up literally right where Def Jam Vendetta left off, D-Mobb is heading to jail, but escapes on the way with a little help from your character. After breaking him out you realize that there are two factions going at it for supremacy in the streets of NY. Your side is headed up by D-Mobb and includes the likes of Method Man, Doc (Redman), Ludacris, and Sticky Fingaz. The opposition is headed up by Snoop Dogg who’s character’s name in the game is Crow. Crow’s fighters include Xzibit, Busta Rhymes (Magic), and Omar Epps.
The single player game starts with you helping D-Mobb escape, and the create-a-fighter is one of the cooler ideas I’ve seen. You actually take the role of a police artist, and you describe the way the character looks, and when you are done (and happy with the selection), you have your character. It was a slick way to do it, and there are a lot of options as far as how your character looks.
You can upgrade your character’s moves, and skills, and you can even buy clothing. There are tons of things to do. This game has some serious length to it. The single player game itself is at least twice as long as Vendetta’s single player was. The story is actually pretty well done too.
There are tons and tons of fighters and unlockables. I’m not a big fan of rap, but my limited knowledge and plenty of TV Air time will attest to the fact that these guys are recognizable, and they do look like their real-life counterparts. My favorite rapper DMX is not present in the game, even though he was in Vendetta.
The game has expanded on the previous with different fighting styles, not just wrestling. This is mostly a gimmicky feature however, as the game is still mostly grappling based, and there is some overlap between the different styles.
For those who have played the first game, Vendetta, the fighting is still pretty much the same. You have punching and kicking, and running as buttons. You have modifiers for different moves when pressing buttons in different directions. You get momentum which, when full, will allow you to flick the right analog stick and enter “blazin mode” where you can perform your character’s special finishing moves. The moves all look good (especially the blazin moves), and there are plenty of animations in the game. Many of the moves made me cringe. One in particular has you dragging your opponent’s face along a cinderblock wall as blood sprays out. If you haven’t already figured it out, this game is NOT for children. There is blood, and semi-realistic fighting, as well as swearing from both the songs being played, as well as the characters themselves.
The biggest difference in the fighting from last version is that the environments now play a much bigger part in the match. Certain stages have certain things that you can use. Some fights are surrounded by a crowd, which will sometimes give your character a weapon, or hold the opponent while you can punch them. There is a subway stage that, if timed correctly, you can shove your enemy in front of the subway, instantly killing him.
I found that sometimes I ended up with a weapon in my hand that I didn’t know about. Weather the crowd gave it to me, or I picked it up off the floor accidentally, it happened to me more than once. It can be surprising when you go to do a move, and instead you smash someone with a beer bottle or mop.
The multiplayer in Def Jam was a huge hit with my gang, and we played quite a bit of it. The frame rate had a tendency to drop quite a bit in both multiplayer, and to a lesser extent one on one fighting. The arenas also felt crowded, and cramped. The graphics sometimes hurt you in that there are some obstacles such as columns, or speakers, or the crowd itself that obscured the view of the fighting. This led to some people yelling about “cheap” moves, or “I couldn’t see, I was behind the scenery”, but overall the frame rate was more annoying than the scenery.
The game is about hip-hop and style. I’m a death-metal fan myself, but I’m pretty convinced that EA knows what it’s doing in bringing together tons and tons of celebrities, actors, and rappers to a fighting game. You can buy tattoos for your character, buy name brand clothing, and listen to any of the TONS of rap tracks in the game. Everything to me fit perfectly, the style, the sounds, the music, and the graphics.
The graphics are all very well done, as I’ve touched upon earlier. The models look cartoon-realistic. Not super-deformed, but they did take some liberties with the models to make them a little beefier, and more defined in musculature than their real-life counterparts. As I also mentioned above the frequent frame rate drops were very annoying. The game should be able to run fine, especially a fighting game where reflexes matter. The drop wasn’t enough to make me quit the game, but it was a major annoyance.
Overall, I really enjoyed Def Jam Fight for NY. It is solid, and long enough where it could be purchased without feeling ripped off. It’s one of the longer fighting games I’ve played recently. The audio and visuals were great. The game could have scored a little higher if the frame rate problems were fixed, and some of the obscuring of the fighting wa fixed. The fighting styles being a little less grappling based would probably help too. I recommend this game to anyone who likes rap, or enjoyed the first Def Jam game.
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