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'Def Jam: Icon' is the third game in this beat'em up series and it was released in March 2007 by EA. It was released on both the Playstation 3 and the XBOX 360. The unique feature of the Def Jam series is it's roster which features actual Hip Hop acts.
Something I really credit Def Jam for this year is getting a great roster of Hip Hop artists, in past editions they where heavily concerned with primarily using Def Jam recording artists to brawl with, but since they have expanded beyond this, it opens many more opportunities for the audience. I have to list all of them to display the broad range we have this time around. Here they are:
As well as celebrities such as Anthony Anderson, Melyssa Ford and the Def Jam founder himself, Russell Simmons. Apaart from these, there are also a selection of generic characters who you will bump into during the course of the fun story mode. Unfortunately all of them are new, so none of the decent characters of the past such as Teck, Pockets and Nyne haven't come back.
As you can see they went all out and the only name I couldn't relate to was the Reggaeton artist, Tego, who I hadn't heard of, apart from this I had all of these on my iPod and I would consider to be amongst my favourites in the Hip Hop and rap world. They took people from all three coasts of Hip Hop (yes, including the third coast of the Dirty South), and even our own Kano and stuck them altogether, so you get to fight the most well-known names, and if they aren't there you can always create them.
If you expect to find gameplay as the first two installments of this beat'em up, then you may be disappointed because it has completely changed how you play. Just when I thought they were advancing the complexity of the fighting in the game with weak and strong grapples with four potential options to slam or strike from here. Instead they have gone back to basics where you can strike as usual with the X, triangle, square and O, then your grapples (initiated with the analogue in the opponents direction) are reduced to four throws or throwing your opponent across the scene.
You cannot use weapons in this game as you could in 'Def Jam: Fight For New York', but you don't need them with this game, because you have to know where you are when you brawl as in each location. As they have decided that since the stars of the game are all musicians, why not make the game all about the tunes. I say this because they have made this a main focus of the gameplay where fighting is concerned as certain objects in the scene will act as a potential weapon to you whenever the track hits a big bass hit. This may cause the car wash to spontaneously attack you at the petrol station, a car to whip you with a donut, or the fireplace to explode at your apartment on the drop of the hard beats. The effect of this will lead to a maximum amount of damage being dished out.
Another new gameplau feature is the ability to act as a DJ to the trak which is playing, before each bout you choose a track and if the other player's track is on as you fight, you act as a DJ by spinning the invisble records in order to mix it into your track. I only bother doing this if I am more familiar with my track so I know how the beat goes. Another feature which expands from this is being able to scratch the track to an appropriate point, such as when the beat is about to drop. I find this quite hard to achieve, so I tend not to perform this action too often, but it is easy to pick up and play apart from this.
The more realistic and street game removes the HUD (Head-Up Display) from you, meaning that you are unaware how much damage you have been affected by. I feel that it makes it more fun as you are unaware when you will suddenly lose the fight, the only warning you are given is when the screen becomes discoloured, and your character's stance is a lot weaker. This means that it will only take a couple of big hits to end the fight (meaning that the far fetched finishing moves have been completely removed).
The game has moved on far from the days where some bouts where fought in rings and battle arenas, Def Jam are taking it straight to the streets in this one and so appropriate locations are available for you to fight in. There are venues for you to fight in including clubs, apartments ,and even the BET 106 & Park studio, each of which have their own unique interactive components such as fireworks in the studio, blasting bass from the speakers in the club and a swinging safe in the apartment.
The game is less realistic than in the other games in many different ways. When you throw your opponent, they are likely to go about 10 metres away. Also because the game relys on your ability to remain aware of your surroundings, some things like fire don't appear to have the appropriate reaction from the character or damage to the fighter.
Although it doesn't add to the realism, you see that the background dances to the beat throughout each song and for most locations it seems out of place, but when you are in the club, it's good to see especially when the crowd do a jump-shot every time Jim Jones' "We Fly High" comes on and he calls out "Ballin'".
As this was the second PS3 game I purchased, I was still stunned by th visual quality of the games, but this one in particular has very realistic and clear graphics. All of the characters look amazing and exactly like their counterpart, so I have no complains here. The effects are great as your character's body and clothing is damaged appropriately as the fight goes on. Somethings, such as the fire could be improved in some areas as it only actually burns things like coats and not T-shirts, but I can see why they didn't want to have people burnt down to their underwear.
With the extravagant roster which we have, most of the artist's most popular songs are found on here, these are mostly ones which fit in with the new feature of the game of fighting to the beat so that on each beat drop the scene reacts and some older tracks, such as M.O.P.'s "Ante Up", had to come on here to add to the hyped-up heavy songs which fit in with a fighting game. You are likely to know the majority of these tracks if you are a fan of Hip Hop (or not), so you aren't likely to be dissapponted by the song choice, but I was quite annoyed that I was having to overplay some of my favourites to the point where it annoys me o here them.
===Build A Label===
This is the new story mode for Def Jam and it tells the story of yourself, a homeless man who gets discovered by an aging Hip Hop entrepreneur, who aids you along the way to success in building a label and managing your artists, which will get you into countless beefs. So it continues from here...
There are many twists and turns to the story as you get involved with mulitple girllfriends all at the same time and you have to worry about spending wisely on clothes when you also have to pay for things like air-play of your artists tracks and keeping them happy whilst they are with you by fighting people they have trouble with and paying for their travel costs and things like this.
To criticize it, it only takes three days to to complete this mode, but it is certainly entertaining while it lasts. To make you want to do it again you get to customize your character by getting ice, tats and brand new rags(with brand like Phat Farm, Jordan and Adidas available).
In conclusion, this is a fun beat'em up which allows you to play as the best Hip Hop artists around. It isn't as typical as fighting games like Tekken or even WWE SmackDown!, because in this one, you fight to the beat, so if you're got no rhythm go home. The story mode has a great tale to it which I find to be quite fun and it does allow you to take a variety of paths as you strive for success in the music world. I found this game easy to play and a lot of fun, but as some things such as 4-on-4 bouts being removed, the variety is restricted so you find yourself bored quite easily after you have gone through 'Build A Label'.
can't say I expected much from this game, mainly because I follow underground hip hop and hate most of the comercial music that most of the artists on the game make. Secondly a load of rappers fighting each other is just a bit sad, look at me i'm such a hard man rapper e.t.c.
Ignoring all this I decided to play the game as if it was just a straight out fighter. The graphics I have to say are stunning the sound is also good, interactive backgrounds with things blowing up when you are thrown into them.
Unfortunatly for me this is where the excitement stopped, the fighting is very wooden and quite slow. Combinations are preset to pressing the same button repeatedly. Pressing one button won't always give the same result, will it punch or kick who knows? This is how it feels anyway, you never really feel in control you may as well button slap.
There are story modes but they seem to just be changing clothes e.t.c and then fighting people with cut sequences to take your mind away from what is essentialy just a fighter with a few thing thrown in.
The game is full of gimmicks, for instant half way through a fight when the music is on, you character can do a turntable scratch movement and stop the music, i'm not exactly sure why I'm sure there is some reason.
In collaboration with urban lifestyle powerhouse Def Jam Interactive, EA Chicago - the team behind the critically acclaimed EA SPORTS Fight Night series - is integrating hip hop culture and gaming like never before. With the hottest music seamlessly infused into the world around you, the game's environments pulsate, crumble, and explode to life with every bone-jarring beat. Time your attacks to the driving bass and use falling debris and exposed environmental hazards to pound your rivals. Featuring an all-new single-player story, the game takes you deep into the life of a high-rolling hip hop mogul to build a record label, discover new superstars, and become a hip hop icon. Infusing hip-hop music, culture and lifestyle into the gameplay, EA Chicago and Def Jam Interactive continue to push the boundaries of game development bringing unique and innovative content to the next generation of gaming, changing the way fighting games are played.