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Def Jam: Fight for N.Y.

Last year’s hit Def Jam Vendetta was a surprise for us all. EA’s brilliant marriage of hip and hop was a refreshing break from the standard fighting game involving quiet martial artists and big bosomed woman. These fighters talked trash and used every dirty trick in the book, including some you were too wussy to try. This year EA ups every thing that made the game great and throws more in to entice you.

Fight for New York has taken the game out of the ring and into the streets. Of the 20 locales that you will battle in, many are places that you encounter in everyday life, if you are a common street thug that is. An abandoned warehouse, back alley, bars and nightclubs, a subway, and even a rooftop will experience your blood splatter during the brutal battles you will surely fight in. And believe me, they will be brutal. EA has added a few new fighting styles to complement the underground fighting theme. Martial arts, street fighting and kickboxing join the previous styles of submission and wrestling. All of the styles are different but when you master one, it will be easy to master the rest thanks to the superb controls. Your fighter responds very well to your input and moves fluidly around the arena. Which is good because your opponent is constantly on the move, looking for an opening. The graphics are sharp and all of the models have a nice light cast look to them. The characters are detailed and sport authentic street gear. Even their jewelry has a bright gleam to it in typical ‘bling’ fashion. The music is fitted very well for the game. It is full of hip-hop and if EA follows the same mentality of the last game, I’m sure that you will hear from a song from your opponent. If you dont like some of the music, you can select which songs you want to hear while you are fighting under the Beat Box option.

The venues are interactive and respond to every move in your fight. In the parking garage, the Hummer and Range Rover will take damage when you smash your opponent’s head into them. When you pick him and toss him, you may knock out the windshields of the innocent cars. And pretty much anywhere, there will be a crowd watching and cheering your death on. But, they will not be mere bystanders. Knock, your opponent into them and they will push him back. Or, they may hold onto him and give you a few free sucker punches. Or course, it goes both ways. They may hand your opponent a stick to whack you with or throw a bottle at your head. Either way, an interactive crowd is a welcome addition to this game. It really adds to the impression of underground fighting. For those that are worried, the game will have the traditional wrestling rings in it and at least one cage match is planned.

The most popular part of the game is easily the inclusion of popular hip-hop figures, both old and new. N.O.R.E., Capone, Comp, Erick Sermon, Freeway, N.O.R.E., Memphis Bleek, Scarface, WC, Bonecrusher, Bubba Sparxxx, Crazy Legs, Ludacris, Danny Trejo, David Banner, Fat Joe, Flava Flav, Havoc, Mack 10, Prodigy, Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Henry Rollins have all been announced and I am sure that more will make the cut. It has been told that 35 of the 70 fighters are well known figures. Will Snow make the cut or do I still have to wait for another chance to beat him for Informer? Also making the cuts are some of the industry’s most prominent women. Carmen Electra, Cindy Johnson, Kimora Lee, Lil’ Kim, Shaniqua and Shawnna all make the cut. The characters are true to real life and have their own voices, like in the previous game. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize some the names. EA has thrown in many original characters that are sure to complement the mix of characters.

The demo I played had two options: the obligatory Story and Battle modes. If you select Story mode, you are thrown right into it. The game cuts to right after a fight with Ludacris and you are looking for your girl. You head to an abandoned warehouse where you find your girl tied to a chair and Sticky Fingaz pouring gasoline around the warehouse. He tells you that he has been waiting to beat you in the ring and proceed to light the gasoline on fire, creating a ring of fire surrounding you two. Then, the fight commences. The battle is pretty easy, especially when you knock your opponent into the fire, setting him ablaze. You then leave the burning building with your girl.

The Story mode will have a deep character creation and feature licensed gear from brands like Phat Farm, Rocawear, Fila, Reebok, Brand Jordan and Sean John. You can change your hairstyle, tattoos and even how you wear your clothes. Sag your pants? Roll up one leg? You can look how you want.

Once you finish certain stages in Story mode, they will become playable in Battle mode. The subway stage for instance has a running subway train you could throw your opponent into. Or, the Penthouse stage has a windows breaking match where the point is to throw your opponent out of the windows and send them hurtling to the street below. Of course, whomever you beat in Story mode will be unlocked and available for you and your buddies to battle.

Unfortunately, Def Jam: Fight for New York will not have Xbox Live. EA wants to fine-tune the single player game before they work on the multiplayer. Lets hope that the next edition will have the option.

The demo I played had only one glaring problem. The loading times were long, especially when I could KO my opponent in thirty seconds. It is probably because of the demo status but I hope that they are improved for the final version. Other than this, the game looks like a great addition to a genre that lacked originality. Look for this game September 20th and be prepared for a beat down!

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