Def Jam Vendetta is a disappointment, although I´m not sure what I was expecting from a game billed as rap wrestling. Whatever it was this isn´t it. The game comes from EA´s sports division and features rappers such as DMX, Ludacris, and Method Man. Naturally only rappers on the Def Jam label are included here, and not all of them are big names.
The game features a variety of modes and apparently over 1500 moves for battle, I´m sceptical about this. The main mode is Story Mode which allows you to choose a rapper and play through a cheesy back story to win your girlfriend back from D Mob the underground boss. This could only loosely be described as a story, some of the dialogue is downright bizarre and the whole thing feels hastily put together and highly cheesy.
The story could be discounted if the game-play was good but it isn´t. Button mashing is a requirement and often proves frustratingly useless and knackering as the prompt continually flashes "keep pressing a button" while your opponent ignores your futile attacks and beats you unconscious. The game has an irritating difficulty curve and does encourage the angry pad throw.
Graphically the game is poor too, the rappers look a bit like themselves, but they don´t move well. Poorly implemented animations result in half-submerged characters and an overall buggy look. I suspect the Xbox version probably looks a bit more polished.
There are a few nice ideas in the game, as you progress through story mode you pick up different girls and at various points you have to choose which one you want - this triggers a girl fight in which you must control the one you want and win to keep her. You also win money with which you can beef up your character or bizarrely buy some soft porn style pics of the girl of your choice (there´s a photo album full of them).
You can also play this game multiplayer, which I suspect is the only way you are going to get any fun out of it. However there is a nasty problem with the four man tag matches, I repeatedly found myself targeting the wrong guy and was unable to get a hold of the right guy. This resulted in battering the guy for ages and finally pinning him only to discover that I was meant to be fighting the guy standing outside the ring.
The moves themselves are quite nice, like extreme versions of wrestling moves mixed in with street fighting. The rappers are recognisable and the settings are quite nicely realised. The main strength of this title is probably the soundtrack, a wealth of Def Jam rap tracks which help to set the scene.
Overall it has to be said that this game is a disappointment. Considering the huge advertising campaign from EA I stupidly expected better. There are far too many game-play issues and unresolved bugs and I get the impression they slapped out a lazy release exploiting the rapper involvement with advertising campaigns to make up for the poor quality of the title. As a wrestling game this is poor and it doesn´t really bring anything new to the genre - don´t believe the hype.