Thursday, April 19, 2007

VG Review: "Def Jam Icon"


“DEF JAM ICON”
Electronic Arts, for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
rated M for Ma­ture (blood, strong lyrics, vio­lence), $59.99

I’ve wanted to slug rapper/producer Lil’ John (metaphorically speaking, of course) ever since he and that insufferable pimp cup of his first screeched onto the scene.

Thanks to “Def Jam Icon,” now I can.

The game is the third chapter in the ongoing “Def Jam” franchise, where big-name hip-hop stars battle it out because ... well, just because.

In “Icon,” you play an upcoming record mogul, assigned with finding, funding and otherwise helping artists like Paul Wall and T.I. Apparently, that entails beating lots of people to a bloody pulp, be they off-duty cops, crazed fans or other rappers.

As with most traditional fighting games, pressing the face buttons in “Icon” allows you to do some quick high and low jabs and kicks.

The real damage is dealt, however, using the right thumbstick. Pulling it back and then to the right, for example, can have you deal an impressive roundhouse kick to the head. Or you could just throw your opponent to the ground.

Adding nicely to the proceedings are the “DJ controls,” which allow you to manipulate the environment for extra damage.

The environment is tied into the sound track you see, so by pressing a button and rotating the right stick, can rewind the song and cause the sound to make the gas stations explode, lights fall out of the ceilings or a car spin 90 degrees into your opponent.

While that’s a nice feature, “Icon” is missing a lot of the elements that made its predecessor “Fight for New York” so much fun. You can’t use weapons, for example, and there aren’t as many over-the-top finishing moves.

The game looks impressive, but the number of fighting styles and venues is limited, making the experience feel repetitive after a few hours. In the end, I became more interested in dressing up my characters in fine suits and jewelry than I was in fighting.

Ultimately, “Def Jam Icon” is too single-minded and lacking in substance to maintain my interest for any lengthy period of time. As fun as it is to beat up Lil’ John, I need something more.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2007

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