Def Jam Fight for NY Review
Def Jam: Fight for NY (FFNY) is the sequel to the hip-hop brawler Def Jam Vendetta. If you did not play Vendetta, then you may be surprised to find that FFNY is more of a wrestling game than a fighter. Sure it lets you throw kicks and punches, but to really put down your opponent you’re going to have to grapple with him and try to pull off bone-crunching throws and pins. If you’re a Vendetta veteran then you’ll find that FFNY builds on the first game and provides a far deeper story mode this time out – suffice it to say that if you liked Vendetta, you’ll love FFNY.
FFNY is steeped in hip-hop culture and it permeates all aspects of the game starting with a very impressive roster of artists including Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Method Man, Redman, and Ice-T. And they don’t just appear on the game’s extensive soundtrack – they’re players in the game’s story mode as well. Some appear as themselves (albeit in full gangsta mode) while others create new characters for the storyline such as Snoop Dogg’s appearance as a rival gang leader. The story begins with the arrest of a gang leader who is then escorted by cops out to a waiting black & white. Before the police car even pulls out it gets t-boned by another car and the gang leader is freed. As it turns out, the driver of the car springing the gang leader is you, and in gratitude for your help he brings you into his fold and launches your career in the underground fight circuit of New York.
Once the opening cinematics end it is time to design your in-game persona. You can select from one of the stock face models or design your own. The design your own mode is a mix and match session with a number of facial features and shapes until you find the one you like. FFNY cleverly wraps its character creator into the story by making it look as if a police sketch artist is interviewing a witness to the gang leader’s escape about your appearance and is sketching in the details as you select the various facial features. Once you have your look it is time to select a fighting style: kickboxing, street fighting, martial arts, wrestling, and submissions. Your choice of style will affect your initial stats and the special moves available. For example, kickboxers have strong lower bodies and powerful kick attacks while wrestlers are powerful grapplers but slow movers. At this point you would think that your choice of fighting style would have a dramatic effect on your strategy in your fights but it doesn’t really work out that way. To win your fights you’re going to have to grapple with your opponent and throw down some big moves because you’ll lose more often than not if your attacks consist only of punches and kicks. Plus, the fights in FFNY are over pretty quickly so there’s not much time to size up an opponent or develop a strategy – you’ve got to look for an opening as soon as you can and take it when you see it. Furthermore, after you win enough fights you’ll even be able to pick up a second style which essentially adds a few new special moves to your repertoire and further blends the lines between the styles.
The story mode really boils down to providing a backdrop for your matches as the game is all about the fighting. The hub of your quest to become top fighter is your room or crib. From here you can listen to and read messages left by the game’s hip-hop stars on your PDA phone. These messages serve the dual purpose of providing you with additional story elements and also with tips and pointers on play. There’s also a trophy wall to let you view the various awards you’ve won for accomplishing various in-game goals and a closet to let you switch between the outfits you’ve bought during the course of the game. The main feature of your crib though is the city map. This gives you access to the various other locations in the game including the gym, shops, and fight venues.
The gym is basically the screen at which you spend points earned by winning fights on improvements to your character. You can spend them on statistics in areas such as speed, strength, and toughness, on purchasing new special moves, and eventually on acquiring a new fighting style. Other shops let you customize the look of your character by purchasing clothes, hairstyles, tattoos, and jewelry using cash earned in fights.