Review by HuangGai

Reviewed: 09/23/04

Quite an improvement, however . . .

Def Jam Fight For New York is the followup to the critically acclaimed Def Jam Vendetta. It took the (also) acclaimed AKI wrestling engine, added some moves and the ability to combo, sped it up, and added SICK finishers to make for a very interesting hybrid between wrestling and kick-boxing.

First, let me say that this is NOT a wrestling game. Striking has become a more prominant factor in the game, the wrestling rings are gone in all but a few arenas, surrounded instead by crowds who interact, hand you weapons, or help you dish out punishment (and receive it). The walls and other areas/brickabrack is interactive, as well. However, the game doesn't stray too far from its roots, keeping a very robust grappling system that adds to the game greatly. The game isn't without it's flaws, though.

Graphics - 9/10

Keeping a similar look to the last game, the graphics don't strive to be ultra-realistic a la Smackdown, instead giving it a SLIGHTLY smoothed over, game-ish feeling that makes all the other textures much more believable. All of the 70+ fighters are unique and their faces have distinct expressions that add a lot to the game, and all of the guest rappers are indeed voiced (quite well, might I add) by their real life counterparts. On that note:

Sound - 10/10

I'm not much a rap fan, but the music in the game is great. The sounds are great, the fighters yell taunts at each other during the fights, hell, even the "suspect" (you) has a good range of vocals and fit right in.

Gameplay - 7/10

While the game does shine in a lot of areas (it's ultra-smooth transition to more of a fighting engine, the huge number of moves), there are still problems. Firstly, the countering system now sucks. It's nearly impossible to do actual counters (rather than blocks), and when you do block, it doesn't necessarily work (though it never seems to fail for the computer). On the note of the computer, the AI for the game can get rediculously cheap. Though it IS good for difficulty, it can be a hassle. One moment you'll be fighting a fairly decent or even drop dead easy opponent, then the next round you're fighting a guy who counters (not blocks) everything you throw at him, and is able to penetrate your every defense. It's not THAT huge a hassle, simply because almost every fighter has a pattern and once you recognize it, you can break their asses up. Another slight problem is that it becomes really easy to rely solely on environmental attacks because they (along with weapon attacks) are so damn powerful. It's kinda lame to survive a blazin just to watch your opponent slowly shuffle over to a beer bottle, pick it up, walk back, and then hit you while your down, KOing you. Another problem is the coding of the "special" matches, such as the inferno match, the skyscraper match, etc. They're no different from just choosing 1 vs 1 and choosing that specific stage, which kinda ruins the reason for having them there. Even the sub option of 1 vs 1 (crowd rating) becomes lame when you KO the guy in the first minute of what's supposed to be a 5 minute match. Someone got lazy there.

Controls - 9/10

Other than blocking, I don't find much wrong at all with the controls, they just take a bit of getting used to.

Story Mode - 8/10

The meat and potatoes of the game. The developers went all out and created a HUGE and deep storyline dealing with D Mob's escape from the police with an unknown suspect (aka, you), and his rise back up the ranks, taking back his territory from rival gang leader Crow, portrayed aptly by Snoop Dog.

The story mode is brilliant, firstly. Everything about it flows really well and there's a lot to do, especially with your character. The amount of clothes in the game are STAGGERING. Literally thousands of pieces to peruse through and mix and match. Not only that, but the jewelry is GORGEOUS, especially when it gets to diamond coated stuff, which is when the bloody stuff blinds you. There are a LOT of well done cutscenes that explains the storyline, keeping you highly motivated to continue playing. Not only that, but your character can have up to three fighting styles to create a super fighter. Overall a great experience.

However, there are some gripes. Firstly, the storyline seems incredibly straightforward. It'll be fun for a wihle, but once you beat it, you may find it tedious to go through over again (though the prospect of experimenting with different style combinations and girlfriends etc etc may keep some players hooked for months). Secondly, you can't edit your moves, other than your four blazins. This angers me solely because AKI, as long as they've had create a wrestlers, has ALWAYS had move edits. Some people say "well, you're combining fighting styles, they don't want you choosing stuff not from your style!" Easy enough, AKI could program the damn thing to only let certain moves be accessible. Lastly, you cannot fight your creations, nor can you edit them outside of storymode, which would have been nice (like, say, you can choose to put them through story mode or you could have a template stat setup for your character and make them outside of storymode, but they won't be as good.)

Those are my only real gripes about the story mode, otherwise it's a real ride.

Overall - 8/10

There are quite a few problems and let downs with the game, but I don't see them really destroying my overall satisfaction with it. It's a great game that's incredibly fun to play, and if the producers fix the few problems I mentioned, it has "best game of all time" written all over it.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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