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Def Jam: Fight for New York Review

Developer: EA Chicago Publisher: EA
Release Date: September 20, 2004 Available On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

Def Jam: Fight for New York is the greatly improved sequel to Def Jam: Vendetta. While I didn’t play much of Vendetta (only enough to compare with FfNY) there is a definite improvement. So much so, in fact, that it feels like an entirely different game.

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First thing’s first, this is the best wrestling game that I have ever played. Nothing else even comes close. Fight for New York reminds me a lot of the Nintendo 64 days of wrestling. The fighting engine is so refined that the fighting ends up feeling very slow and deliberate even when characters are being thrown across the stage.

The meat and potatoes of the game is the story mode. This mode is the story of the up and coming fighter (you), which must save the day. The story is a bit clichéd, but it all works. The story is told in two different ways; in game cut scenes and text-messages/voicemails via your T-Mobile Sidekick. Both methods work extremely well and are able to tell the story

One thing worthy of mention is the amount of customization made available to the player in FfNY. There are literally hundreds of different types of clothes to wear. There are hundreds of pieces of jewelry to make your fighter bling-bling (sorry, I had to). There are tattoos available, different hair styles and colors, different builds of bodies. While not as good as the Tiger Woods create-a-player, you can almost create your likeness in this game.

But the story in the story mode would mean nothing if the fighting engine was nothing special. Luckily, this is not the case. I can’t get over how blown away I was from the fighting engine. I was expecting a game with all eye candy and no substance and what I got was eye candy and substance.

There are five fighting styles to choose from, each feeling completely different. You can combine up to three styles at once to give you certain strengths. For example, you can specialize in street fighting, but be proficient in wrestling and kickboxing as well. The amazing thing about combining styles is that your fighter takes on the new style and will consequently control differently but will retain the old style. It’s a weird feeling but it makes sense.

The game allows you to run, punch, kick, taunt, etc., but the majority of the time the grapple will be used the most. From the grapple you have the option of punching, kneeing, throwing or performing a move. If you’re in Blazin’ mode, FfNY’s version of a special, this is where the magic happens. There are over five-dozen Blazin’ moves and almost all of them are fantastically animated. Imagine your fighter repeatedly striking your opponent in the face, nearly breaking their arm and then running up their side and finishing with a swift kick in the side of the head. It’s amazing and the first time I saw it my jaw nearly hit the floor.

The graphics in Fight for New York look slightly cartoony, but in a Dick Tracy kind of way. The facial animations are excellent, the cut scenes are extremely believable, and the fighting animations are some of the best in the genre. Also, all of the arenas look great, with subtle lighting effects and destructible environments.

The sound in the game is good, if not great. The soundtrack is full of hip hop songs, as expected but the voice acting is what really sets it apart from the rest of the genre. The story mode wouldn’t be anything without a story and the acting is what makes it believable. Everybody sounds how he or she should and it all fits perfectly. As a bonus, all of the rappers did their own voices so everything is authentic. The arena noise is also fantastic. Crowd chants, weapons clanging and environmental sounds all add to the already gritty atmosphere.

There are some small problems with the game though. It is impossible to hit someone while they’re in the middle of an animation with another character. It is too hard to counter opponents, even though the computer can seemingly do it flawlessly. Last, but certainly not least, the camera could use some slight adjustments in some of the arenas. These problems are minor though; they’re nothing to detract from the overall experience.

All in all, this is a great first step in evolving the wrestling genre. If EA manages to add more features and clean up some of the problems from this iteration, the next will surely change the market. Besides, if nothing else, it’s always fun to watch Snoop Dogg whoop on somebody with his pimp-cane.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 8.3
Written by Chris Review Guide