Review by genesis monkey

Reviewed: 10/14/04

Underneath a misleading exterior exists an excellent fighter....

Probably many of you are thinking that Def Jam is only a cash cow for hip hop stars trying to cash in on the gaming industry. And when the first Def Jam came out I'll admit, I was one of those people. However I played it with a friend one night and found myself completely mistaken. Aki, arguably the creator of the greatest fighting engine in history, had perfectly translated all the controls of the N64's WWF No Mercy to Playstation 2 flawlessly. As a matter of fact, it played even better. Familiar moves from No Mercy that seemed weak and flimsy then, looks absolutely brutal on the PS2 and its graphics blew THQ's SmackDown series straight to hell. That aside, the game itself lacked a lot of the modes and options that had made No Mercy great, so I decided not to buy it. Then Aki and EA released this gem, Def Jam: Fight for NY. After hearing that they put in a Create-A-Fighter mode (the one thing that prevented me from buying the first) I went out and got the game as soon as possible.

Gameplay: 9/10
The gameplay, where it really counts, is extremely well done in this game. The two modes you'll spend the most time with is the story mode, to go through the game unlocking all the cool extras and items to add to the look of your character, and the battle mode, to take on your friends. There are a few short comings in the game. There is not a whole lot of diversity in the style of the stuff you can use on you Create-A-Fighter, a lot of it is just stuff from Sean Paul, Ecko, Phat Farm, and other such clothing lines. In addition, in playing story mode you must create your own fighter and there is no getting around it, as such it doesn't allow for much diversity in plot. In spite of this, actual fighting is near flawless. There are 5 different styles of fighting (kick boxing, martial arts, wrestling, street fighting, and submission,) all different from one another, with distinct strengths and weaknesses. The best part of all is that you can mix up to three of these to create a fighter exactly like how you would (or wish you could) fight. My personal favorite is an all out technical fighter with martial arts, kick boxing, and submission. Moves to each are distinct, however the only moves you can select to use are your specials or Blazin moves. One thing about these is they are completely over the top. I cannot really describe them adequately, so all I'll say is you must see them for yourself to understand just how painful they look.

Controls: 8/10
Aki is a genius when it comes to controls in a grappling based fighter, and it nearly pulled off perfection for this game. Offensively you can mix it up with strings of striking combos almost like any of the great 2D fighters around (KOF or Street Fighter for example) or you can grapple with your opponent and pull off some really devastating maneuvers. Either way, control is perfectly placed and comes natural once you get the hang of it, which takes all of a half hour. Defensively though, Aki did a little sloppy. The old two button reversal system: one button for blocking/reversing strikes, and one for grapples has been trashed in exchange for something a little weird. You press the L1 button, either punch or kick (triangle and square respectively,) AND the D-pad toward your opponent to block or reverse. This makes reversing an attack a hell of a lot harder, and even when you've pulled it off often you won't be expecting to and will end up wasting your chance of turning the tide of the fight to your favor. Sorry Aki, you did great making changes to offensive, but it would've been a lot easier to stick with the two button reversal system.

Graphics: 9/10
The graphics here are among the best I've seen. Highly detailed, and no sharp edges where they don't belong. Very crisp and clear with nice special effects, and movement seems almost natural even with the impossible special moves and aerial attacks. However the PS2 is starting to show its age. Things can get a little choppy at times and loading times can get to be quite annoying.

Sound: 10/10
Everything sounds crisp, clean, clear, and realistic. When you hit anything, the sound emitted seems almost natural, and when it sounds like a bone should be broken in a move, you'll hear a satisfying, startling crunch. Very nice.

Music: 10/10
The music sounds nice and is completely appropriate for the game. That said, it's really up to the player whether or not it's good. Quite frankly I cannot stand rap, but even so it adds a fitting ambiance to the game, just as video game music should.

This concludes my review, and I hope you found it informative. I'd highly recommend you buy this game, because you won't be disappointed. Unless you only like RPGs or shooters, in which case why the hell are you looking at reviews for a fighter in the first place?

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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