In mournful praise the mythic hero,
W.H. Auden wrote, “Iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles / Who
would not live long.”

So goes the fate of the warrior. And like the fallen icons of
Greece, our modern rap icons do battle in “Def Jam: Fight for
New York.”

In the sequel to Electronic Arts’s wildly successful
“Def Jam Vendetta,” “Def Jam: Fight For New
York,” allows the player to assume the persona of one of more
than 40 rap superstars and related personalities in a brawler so
bold, so visceral that its personality sends ripples of charisma
through the screen.

Best described as a fighting/wrestling hybrid, “Def
Jam” has fully licensed rappers fighting across all five
boroughs of the Big Apple. Train stations, strip clubs,
construction sites and burning factories are all suitable venues
for the street-fighting, trash-talking thugs of Def Jam. Each
character uses one of five fighting styles: martial arts,
wrestling, submission, kickboxing and street fighting. Each
rapper’s character mirrors their persona so while the wiry
Ludacris favors kickboxing, the always excitable Sticky Fingaz
prefers the undisciplined ways of street fighting. With each artist
providing their own voice and likeness to the game, the realism
will be enough to please any hip-hop fan.

While the variety of fighting venues and gimmicks (light your
opponent on fire, toss them in front of a subway car) is
delightful, the true core of the game is the borderline epic story
mode. Even with lack of branching story paths, all the drama,
double crossing and romance of a gangster film comes across just as
brutal and unforgettable as “Mean Streets.”

Of course since it wouldn’t be enough to play as your
rapper of choice, Def Jam offers one of the most suitable and deep
create-a-character modes seen in a fighting game. From obvious
traits like height, weight and fighting style, to more unique
stylized elements like what kind of iced-out chain and watch your
digital avatar desires, “Fight for New York” makes the
player the hero.

All the energy that the game provides does wane as one replays
the story mode and see the limited extent of the grappling system.
It’s impossible to replicate the excitement of the first few
days with the game but the excellent graphics, superb use of the
license and the bold, iconic feel of the characters and their
mannerisms make “Def Jam” echo in the gamers mind like
so many other glorious battles.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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