–Console: Playstation 2
–ESRB Rating: Mature
–#Of Players: 1-4
–Published by: EA Canada (EA Sports Big)
–Completion Time: N/A
– #Of discs: 1
After the success of Def Jam Vendetta, it was inevitable that there would be a sequel. Though this game undergoes many changes in its fighting system, it still brings a great story, wonderfully brutal combat, and an interesting experience overall.
The story of Def Jam: Fight for NY takes place immediately after the events in first game in which the wise cracking villain D-Mob gets arrested for the actions that took place. While he is being driven to the police station, a mysterious SUV rams into the police car and a mystery man helps D-Mob escape. The story then turns into a brutal and violent battle between D-Mob and Crow (played by rapper Snoop Dog) for the control of the New York Underground Fighting Circuit. The story is surprisingly compelling, and is more than able to bring out the emotions in anyone willing to play it.
The soundtrack for Fight for NY ends up being a love it or hate it experience. As expected it is compiled completely of hip-hop music. The artists range from classic beats of LL Cool J to the newer talent of rapper Bless. The track listings are fully customizable too, providing the ability to listen to just those special rhythms close to your heart.
The Voice acting in this game is highly above average, and the rappers that play as “alternate egos” portray their roles well. There is no noticeable missed lip synchs in the game. Though slowdown can prevent the cues to come up at the wrong time in game play, the story sequences are perfect. The other audio effects enhance the brutality of the moves from breaking a pool stick over an opponent’s head, or throwing them face first into a pane of glass. It never ceases to appear extremely painful.
Controlling your fighter is easy and simple. There is one button assigned for punches, one for kicks, and the other two are assigned to running and grappling. Fight for NY’s system is an extension of the famous AKI wrestling engine that has been seen since Wrestlemania 2000 on the N64. The major difference is how instead of holding onto the selected button longer to execute a stronger strike, you have to push a combination of the L1 button and the other combat button you are using. Parries and counters can be performed by either hitting a striking button at the right time for opposing grapples, or hitting forward on the control pad while blocking (R1) to counter strikes. The parry system is pretty easy to learn, and it will help you a great deal against some of the tougher opponents.
The game takes a realistic yet “cartoony” method of delivering its graphics. Most of the real life renders actually look like the rap stars, though much more muscular, and the animations are fluid. The premise behind the player creator is a nice touch. The gamer will have to do a police sketch of their character to identify what they look like and how they sound. The options are limited at the start, but I was able to make a character look so eerily similar to me, it was shocking. Gamers can outfit their digital avatars in real world urban street wear. Also characters can be outfitted with jewelry from Jacob the Jeweler, get tattoos, and have a multitude of hairstyles. The major problem with the graphics is the extreme slowdown that can take place in matches. In 4 player rumbles, the screen has a weird tendency to flash patches of transparent color in the background, which is the usual sign that slowdown will possibly show up soon. The game can, in a rare case freeze up completely.
The Venues are varied and colorful. Each area has its own environmental ways of punishing its opponents. Not all of the areas are wrestling rings like in the original; this game seems to have more of a Fight Club atmosphere where the crowd does get involved with the action. Though in some of the larger areas, when 4 fighters are in the heat of battle, the camera has a tendency to zoom out way too far. It makes it difficult to see and counter your adversary’s moves.
The fighting in Def Jam is broken down into five different styles: Kickboxing, Martial Arts, Street Fighting, Submission moves, and Wrestling. As a character progresses in the story they can unlock up to 3 of these fighting styles for their character to use. Once a style is learned, moves and attacks are blended in with the original style chosen. Though it would have been nice to have more of a choice over what moves are chosen in each style.
Fighters have a choice of “Blazin’ Moves” that are more of an over the top, “You can’t do this the real life” kind of finisher. While many of the moves look and sound painful, the emphasis put on them has dwindled in the sequel. It is much often easier to eliminate an enemy with a simple, yet deadly environmental attack, since the characters seem to get up rather unaffected after many of the moves. The gameplay manages to stay interesting, even if the environmental attacks have too much priority in the matches.
With the wealth of options that this game has, it would be a gem in any multiplayer’s game collection. With the large number of match types, everyone will find a fun way to brutally injure their friends’ characters.
With the large number of match types from the deadly “Ring of Fire” Inferno Matches, to the Subway match where your goal is to achieve a KO from either pushing your opponent or launching them in front of an oncoming subway train via a blazing move, gamers will keep coming back to experiment with the system. Getting all of the profile trophies and extra characters also helps the longevity since you are going to have to work for the elusive “master file.”
Final Score: 8.5/10
This game, despite the long loading times, and the slowdown issues, is one of the best fighting games out there. If you are willing to put up with the hip-hop culture, you will find a fun and interesting experience. The ability to play through with a created character adds a deeper layer to the storyline. It does a great job of making you feel that you are a part of what is going on in the world.
By Plumbum Sol