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Def Jam Vendetta Package Art
EA Sports BIG

Def Jam Vendetta

After developer AKI created some of the greatest wrestling titles back in the day for the Nintendo 64, such as Wrestlemania 2000 and WWF No Mercy, they've teamed up with EA Sports BIG to create one of the best wrestling titles on the Nintendo GameCube. Def Jam Vendetta takes one of the most user-friendly wrestling engines and places it in the heart of pop culture, or at least hip-hop culture, as several hip-hop stars, both original and real life, team up to beat the living crap out of each other in a no-holds-barred bling-bling ring. With big stars like DMX, Ludacris and Redman on the roster, one may think that it's nothing more than a marketing ploy. It's more like a marketing ploy inside a can of whoop ass. If only they could do rock star games this way and not turn Metallica: The Game into a crappy car combat title that'll be on the burner until 2005. In the meantime, this title offers a lot of visual style, fun gameplay, and a great soundtrack to top things off.


If you've played past EA Sports BIG titles such as NBA Street and SSX Tricky, then you're pretty much prepared for what's about to go down. The visuals in this title are polished and well animated. Every character model looks distinct and well-conceived, especially with several unlockable costumes available. The licensed characters such as DMX and Method Man look incredibly realistic. Each of the fighters animate nicely and the special moves just look downright painful.

Every environment is put together with awesome detail. Even though there isn't a whole lot to a square ring with an outside pavement area surrounding it, it's what goes on outside the ring that matters and really juices up the flavor of what's going on around you. The crowd has a good look and, for once, they aren't mind numbingly boring visually. While others may be doing other stuff such as standing still, watching the fight, others will jump up and down, waving, or shouting at the fighters. The scenery isn't that bad on the eyes either, especially in the Sanctuary stage. Set inside of a gothic cathedral, there are marble columns, glowing chandeliers, and a roaring fireplace. While there isn't a whole lot to interact with, each setting includes significantly well-placed eye candy.


There's a lot to like about the audio stylings of Def Jam Vendetta: the voice acting, the effects, and especially the music. The licensed stars such as Redman and DMX have lent their vocal talents to the game, both musical and acting wise. While the big stars have added some of their own tracks to the soundtrack, they also lend their voice-overs to their own personal wrestlers. Some of their voice acting isn't bad, especially since it's mostly all taunts and shouts. The real voice acting is done by the story based, original characters, like Manny and the big boss, D-MOB, are voiced surprisingly well.

As far as the sound effects are concerned, every little crunch and smack, especially the occasional boot to the face, is painfully crystal clear. Every move inside the ring is frighteningly realistic and once you've completed a special move or two, you'll have a perpetual grimace or otherwise shocked look about your face.

The music in Def Jam Vendetta is really the highlight of the game, in the matter of sound, that is. The game comes with several tracks from the licensed hip-hop artists from the Def Jam label, as well as classics such as Onyx and Public Enemy. To top things off, the legendary DJ Funkmaster Flex provides the commentary in the game. There's a lot of glory there.


Def Jam Vendetta is clearly different from other wrestling titles. Mind you, there are many other similarities between this title and AKI's past efforts. The grapple system is back, only well polished and sporting several painful, powerful, and otherwise extreme moves that we're used to seeing under the EA Sports BIG label. Brawling basically consists of several different types of moves: grapples, tosses, pins, and your usual melee attacks. However, there is a few alternate takes on the fighting, as when you've taunted, abused, and otherwise kicked the crap out of your opponent, your "BLAZIN'" meter will increase. Once it's full, you'll have the chance to obliterate the opponent with a super-stylized uber move. There are actually three ways to go. You can either pin the guy once his health has reached a dangerously low level, which is the easiest way out and grants the least points (and cash) available. You can also make your opponent submit by breaking his leg, arm, back, or head after pinning him and depleting his body part health meter. The final way is the aforementioned BLAZIN' K.O.

There are several different modes of play, but the core of Def Jam Vendetta belongs in its Story Mode. While choosing from a base default of four different characters, you start off fighting no-names and other, less sporting prey. You then work your way up, branching out to bigger and better things. There's even a plot twist near the end that I seriously didn't see coming.

So is it fun? Hell yeah, it's fun! You can easily play through the story mode several times and go through survival with any number of characters. The fighting engine is a blast and there's a veritable cornucopia of crap to unlock. There's obviously a lot of things that could have made the game better, however. For example, weapons like chairs, tables, beams and other items of mass destruction would be helpful. Interactive environments would be nice as well as other damage indicators. The inclusion of some sort of "create-a-fighter" would be awesome too, and with a game like this, there would be customizations galore. As it stands, Def Jam Vendetta is an excellent, solid brawler that will keep you busy for at least a while.


The greatest part of any wrestling title has got to be the multiplayer and Def Jam Vendetta is no slouch in that regard. There are several multiplayer modes to work with such as 1-on-1, Free For All, and Tag Team, just to name a couple. Sporting up to 4 players (other than the 1-on-1 obviously), you can easily decimate the computer or friend and have more fun than in Story mode. Unfortunately, your friends will need their own memory data in order to choose from the vast storage of unlocked goodies, or you could just create four different profiles of your own to share with them. Other than that, multiplayer rocks in this title.


When it comes to wrestling titles, I'm not a wizard, but Def Jam Vendetta is easily the best one I've played since the N64 days. The stunning graphics, superb sound and beautifully addictive gameplay are several of the factors that make this a great game. It could have been destined for excellence with a few more extras and maybe a few more adjustments to the controls for even smoother movement, but as it stands, it's still a fun title to play with your friends or alone. Will WWE Wrestlemania XIX dethrone it or will an inevitable sequel come along to show its stuff? Foshizzle.

final score 8.7/10

Staff Avatar Austin Starr
Staff Profile | Email
"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"

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