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Def Jam: Fight for NY Package Art
††Aki Corp
††EA Games

Def Jam: Fight for NY

Last year's Def Jam Vendetta wasn't exactly what EA had in mind for the series. Thankfully, the game took off and sold a surprising amount of units. It was successful enough to bring about a bigger and more mature fighter which is what everyone wanted all along. Bringing hip-hop and wrestling together wasn't enough. They needed more, more, more. Def Jam: Fight for NY features more hip-hop artists, more blood, more grotesque Blazin's, and a much more involving Story Mode. Each of these new additions makes Def Jam: Fight for NY one of the most superior fighting game sequels to come to the Cube. Although it doesn't feature as many improved features as, say, WWE Day of Reckoning, but it's a far superior game to its predecessor and will easily keep anyone entertained for hours on end.


The graphics in Def Jam: Fight for NY are amazing, the character models in particular. Each character model features tons of detail and those that look like their real life counterpart are sometimes eerily similar. It isn't fun to beat the living tar out of Henry Rollins if you're a big fan of his work. Each arena also features a lot of miniscule detail as well. The real star of each arena, though, is the lighting. It brings each area character and environmental effects. If it weren't for the lighting system that Aki put into place, the subway station may as well look like a happy, green meadow filled with fluffy white bunnies. Some may point out that the crowd looks a little sub par, but given the amount of interaction, it's a moot point. Unfortunately, the frame-rate can bring the experience down a bit. There really is no way to avoid a small frame-rate dip here and there, which is a shame because the game looks amazing. It's hard to enjoy something so artistic when the engine can't handle it.


Given the vast level of sound production, the game is a feast to the ears. The music is filled with a robust soundtrack that puts most any EA Trax listing this year to shame. The voice acting is superb especially considering that most of these artists haven't had any involvement in videogames, save for Xzibit who seems to be making the rounds nicely. The dialogue is entertaining, but can contain a lot of bad language. It isn't necessarily gratuitous, though, seeing as how this is a dark, gritty version of the New York underground. In fact, it simply helps the game's overall aura. The sound effects, however, are the stars of the show. Without them, the Blazin's would be something to bat an eyelash at. With the integrated sound effects, you'll wince a thousand times over when someone takes a flying knee-drop to the groin or a standing kick to the face. It can get a little insane, but that's the whole point, right?


Def Jam: Fight for NY takes Aki's engines and brings it to new heights. Rather than focusing so much on wrestling as last year's title did, this engine puts the focus on five different fighting styles including street fighting, submissions, wrestling, martial arts, and kickboxing. The play mechanics have evolved from being a standard wrestler with some grizzly moves and into a fighting game with a bit of wrestling gameplay and a more focused energy on grizzly moves. Rather than learning from experience from Aki's earlier wrestlers, the player learns combos and special moves through each different fighting style. It can be rather challenging to pick up on each different style, but once you go through a handful of fights you'll learn how easily each fighter controls and how to counter act against your opponent. These fighting mechanics bring to light a different aspect throughout the series. No two fighters in Fight for NY are alike, because some are hybrids whereas others are standard expert fighters. Some fighters are hulking behemoths whereas others are scrappy little guys. In effect, switching from one fighting style to another can take a bit to get used to, but once you figure out the proper control layout it's a blast to master each style.

Some of the standard Def Jam play mechanics have followed through to this successor. The game still uses the Blazin' special moves, which are amazingly put together. Each one simply looks painful and downright impossible to execute in the real world. Believe us, we've tried. All kidding aside, though, it helps balance the game a little bit and also keeps the pace going. Speaking of, the game goes at a very rapid pace. Itís almost too rapid if you ask a veteran 3D fighter enthusiast. However, it's not about accuracy or what may or may not be possible in the realm of flesh and blood, but rather what's entertaining and fun. That's exactly where this game succeeds in every aspect. To expand upon that, they've implemented a new feature in the fighting. In Vendetta, you would fight in a ring but in Fight for NY you'll be fighting anywhere and everywhere. In a subway station or a parking garage, surrounded by either walls, fences, or just a ring of screaming, pumped up bystanders. You can use each environment to your advantage either by slamming your opponent into a pillar, scrapping their face against a wire fence, or having your "audience" participate. Bystanders will hold up weapons for you to use or simply help out in taking your opponent down. However, if you're pushed into a screaming dude with a bottle, he'll crack it over your character's head. Thanks for the support.

So, we've covered all the bases when it comes to fighting. How does the actual game progress, though? Well, the meat of the game takes place in the Story Mode, wherein you create your own character using a police-style sketch artist method. This is easily one of the most creative and inspiring create-a-character modes that we've seen so far, which is surprising to see after the generic "nobody" we played in Vendetta. While you progress through the game as your newly created fighter, you'll be able to customize him to your liking. There are honestly hundreds of options in this case. You can check out the tattoo parlor, Jacob the Jeweler for some bling, grab some threads, or get your hair done. Most all of the clothes you find are officially sponsored by well-known names like Fila and Sean John. Of course, the more you spend, the more the crowd will love you. You can also visit Henry Rollins' gym where you can learn new Blazin's, fighting styles, or upgrade your stats.

Yeah, I mentioned Henry Rollins. He's in the game. So is everyone else. Everyone? Yes, everyone. Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, Snoop Dogg, Method Man and Redman all play different characters in the game along with several dozen other artists. WC, Ice T, Slick Rick, Flava Flav, Warren G, Ghostface Killah, David Banner, Xzibit, Baby Chris, Prodigy and Havoc (Mobb Deep), Bonecrusher, Freeway, Lil' Flip, Bubba Sparxxx, and Sticky Fingaz are all in this. So are more characters. Seriously, there's around 65 playable characters including the fictional characters that were introduced in the original. Wait, there's also Hollywood talent lending their faces and voices to the game as well. Omar Epps, Danny Trejo, Carmen Electra, and, of course, Henry Rollins, all play a part in the game. The roster, once you unlock everyone, begins to get a little nuts.


As with any fighting game, there has to be some solid multiplayer action. If you played Vendetta to death with your buddies, thereís no reason you shouldnít check out what Fight for NY has to offer. With multiplayer modes ranging from one-on-ones, two-on-twos, free for alls, cage matches, subway, demolition, inferno, window, and more there just isnít enough here to get anyone bored. In a Subway match, the key to success is throwing your opponent into an oncoming subway train. In Demolition, there are two cars you can use to destroy your opponent (and their vehicle). The list goes on. Thereís certainly enough here to keep you entertained until Novemberís big multiplayer hitters come flying in.


Def Jam: Fight for NY takes a ton of aspects regarding its predecessor, puts them on the drawing board and expands the formula to a level of expertise. If this was the game that EA initially wanted to put out with the release of Vendetta, I couldn't begin to imagine how they would improve upon it. I suppose we may be able to find out if this title does well enough. Anything bad you remember regarding Vendetta, you won't see it in this follow-up. I can easily recommend this game to anyone, but if you're a fan of wrestling, fighting, and/or hip-hop, why haven't you picked this game up yet? It's one of the most impressive fighters on the GameCube this year and is definitely worth your time and money. Add this one to your library before the holidays hit.

final score 9.1/10

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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