Def Jam Vendetta
Game Info
Platform(s)
GC, PS2
Publisher
Electronic Arts
Developer
AKI Corp.
Genre
Wrestling
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Strong Language, Strong Lyrics, Suggestive Themes, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Great wresting engine
• Nice graphics and audio package
• Easy to pick up and play

The Bad

• Needs more modes
• Where's the Create-A-Wrestler option?
• Rap/hip-hop theme may turn some off

 
Grade
B+

AKI, who are well known for No Mercy for the N64 and Virtual Pro Wrestling brings its polished wrestling engine to the Gamecube (and PS2) in the form of an unconventional wrestling title. Not so much unconventional in terms of gameplay, but in terms of the theme. Instead of featuring actual wrestlers, Def Jam Vendetta stars a number of rap/hip hop artists like Method Man, Redman, DMX and Ludacris, along with an assortment of fictional characters patterned along the same theme.

When you first start up the game, players are given the option to start up the single-player story mode, survival mode or take part of a handful of multiplayer modes, including two player versus, tag team, free-for-all and handicap. The story mode starts out with players choosing one of four fictional characters to help out fellow wrestler Manny, who needs you to wrestle for him to help pay off his debt to D-Mobb, the big boss-man who runs the whole wrestling scene in this game. Through the story mode, you fight series of enemies, earning money for winning the matches. You can use this money to improve your character's stats. Also during the story, you'll pick up a "girlfriend", who manages to get into fights from time to time as well (the girl-on-girl bouts are actually pretty funny). The main purpose behind the story mode is to unlock characters, arenas, and costumes for the multiplayer mode (not to mention some gallery photos of the girls).

The wrestling engine is pretty easy to pick up but has a lot of moves available with little to no challenge at pulling the moves off. The B-button does a standard attack and the A-button performs a grapple. Whether you tap or hit the buttons hard will affect the type of hit or grapple you perform. Depending on your location relative to your opponent, your attacks, holds and moves differ. The X button allows you to run, which can be used to come off the ropes. The Y button allows you to climb over the ropes and even up on the turnbuckle for aerial attacks. The R-button performs a block while hitting both the L and R-buttons at the same time lets you block grapples. If you time your blocks correctly, you can actually leave a small window of opportunity open for some good counter attacks. Once you wear your enemies down, pin them with the L-button. As the arms, legs and head all have health gauges, you can also work certain parts of the body to get enemies to fall to submission moves. Also, each player has a momentum gauge, which fills as you perform positive moves and counters. Once this gauge fills, your character can go into Blazing Mode by tapping the C-stick back and forth. Once in Blazing Mode, your character can pull off some brutal special moves at this time.

Graphics-wise, the game runs on a pretty nice engine. The characters are stylized and show a fine level of detail and some nice animations. The wrestler models have a good bit of volume and don't suffer from evident seams at the joints or jerky animation that has been huge eyesores in previous titles. Everything looks and runs smoothly. I'm pleased with the fact that as much attention has been spent on the fictional characters as have been with the characters modeled on real rappers. One of the nicer aspects of the game are the sizable and well sculpted arenas. Instead of the cardboard cutout crowds, each location is packed with fully modeled fans cheering you on.

The audio portion of the game is nicely done. Voice acting, while not Oscar-winning material, still does a good job at embellishing the matches and furthering the story mode. Sound effects are dead on and do a great job at pulling the player into the game. The music, which features a number of tracks from acts like Public Enemy, DMX, Onyx and Method Man (to mention just a few names), really helps to seal the theme of the game. If you don't care for the genre of the music, though, you may grow tired of the soundtrack quick.

Where Def Jam Vendetta comes up short is the lack of modes. For those used to having a large number of specialized matches, you'll probably be wondering why there seem to be so few modes available. Also, there's no Create-A-Wrestler mode, so you're stuck with playing with the characters you unlock during the game. On top of this, some people may skip the game based on the rap/hip-hop theme or on the fact that there are no actual wrestlers featured in the game.

Def Jam Vendetta is a well done game that's good fun, especially when playing with anywhere between two and four people. While the lack of extra modes or the theme of the game may turn some people off, most everyone else should enjoy the game.

- - Vane

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