Even if you’re not a fan of Rap and hip-hop music, Def Jam: Vendetta is a solid wrestling game through and through.
Featuring the ‘WWF No Mercy’ engine that’s been fine tuned by the people responsible for bringing you titles like SSX: Tricky and NBA Street, EA Big.
It’s been a long time since the ‘No Mercy’ engine has resurfaced, even though there’s been a swarm of wrestling games that has hit the market since ‘No Mercy’s’ release on the Nintendo 64. Although using Def Jam artists as the combatants is slightly unorthadox, Vendetta delivers a very well presented and smooth flowing game to fans of the Genre and of the sport. One would imagine that it might be a little bit difficult to fuse a story mode into a modern wrestling game, but Def Jam: Vendetta’s cast of artists and the introduction into an underground fighting circuit sets the tone well for the well put together, but short story that lies ahead in the single player mode. Pitting you against other rappers and generic fighters alike, the story mode takes you through the ‘perils’ of an under ground fighting circuit. Throughout your rise to the top, a handful of women will notice your rise and compete against each other in the ring to be your valet. The one player story mode is also the only way to unlock the majority of the characters in the game. Which brings me to one of the games problems . .
The game features a vast selection of wrestlers both generic and based on real artists. However, the story mode requires you to create a profile to use while you go through the mode, unlocking the characters. This is fine, but as you unlock the characters they save to that specific profile, and if you want to play with another person, two more people, or even three more people you better be prepared to make that amount of profiles so you can go through the game that amount of times. As multiple players aren’t able to use the same profile, and that profile is unable to be copied.
The control is smooth and responsive, and it runs a bit quicker than it’s wrestling counter parts. There’s also an added points system similar to the one in NBA Street, for each move or combo you pull off the points rack up and there for help you with your momentum meter. The more filled the meter is, the more likely it is for you to reverse a move or get to your feet quicker. The strong and weak grapple feature is still around, as well as the strong and weak attacks.
The gameplay is almost identical to the nintendo 64 wrestling series besides the fact that the finishing moves are alot more cartoonish. Does this take away from the game, though? Not at all, they’re the kind of over the top things that we expect to see out of EA Big, and it fits the game perfectly. If you’re a die hard wrestling simulation fan, i still think that this game is for you. However, the finishing moves will most likely bother you as it’s not possible for you to grab somebody by the ankles and jump rope them in real life. But, it does take the bore out of the original finishing moves seen in the ‘WWE’ and adds some healthy shock value.
New song tracks are also featured in the game, by most if not all of the rappers that are featured as competitors. Although, some of the tracks are taken off albums it’s a welcomed addition considering a recycled generic rap track playing through out the menu can tend to get a little bit mind bending. Not to say that a recycled version of the songs featured in the game aren’t present, but they work within the matches as your senses drift from the gameplay to the sound on and off. The sound also does a good job of giving the moves an extra sense of power with louder crashes and thudding sounds. Of course, the sounds aren’t very realistic but it works considerably better this way.
The graphics are also very large and defined giving all of the rappers a more intimidating and cartoonish nature to them. For some reason though, the graphics style doesn’t seem to fit the women as much as it does the men but it’s hardly noticeable. In the time that i’ve played through it, and in the time that i’ve played through the multiplayer there wasn’t a hint of a slow down. The crowd doesn’t look too bad either, albeit a minor addition, other wrestling games placed cardboard cut outs of would be people in the crowds place. Def Jam: Vendetta does a good job of giving the matches an atmosphere.
A few things were left out of this game, however, that could have made it that much better. The lack of a create a wrestler mode is a downer, as that was one of the more in depth and fun features of the WWE and WCW installments, and with the many different accesories and articles of clothing featured in the game it could have made it deep and promising. But what else is missing from Def Jam besides a simple “Dress up” feature? Well, it only features four simple match modes. One on one, Tag team, handicap and survival mode. No sign of a Ladder match, a table match or even a weapons match as the regular matches are weaponless. I don’t mean to stereotype the rap world, but you think a game that features rappers kicking the crap out of eachother would have a weapon or two in it. But no, not even a hint of one.
When it’s all said and done, Def Jam: Vendetta is a very good representation of an underground wrestling world. And it’s also a very good entry for EA Big into the wrestling market. They have a sequel in the making on their hands and i hope we get to see one soon.