Game Review

Mania Grade: C+

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  • Platform: PlayStation 2
  • ESRB: Teen
  • Genre: Wrestling
  • Players: 1-4
  • Online: No
  • Developer: EA Big
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Suggested Retail: $49.99
  • Graphics: A
  • Sound: B
  • Gameplay: B-
  • Replay: C
  • Fun Factor: C
  • Reviewer's Wild Card: D


Rapping and wrestling - if you don't like these, don't apply

By James Stevenson     May 01, 2003

© 2003 EA

Sometimes a game comes along, and I just have to ask myself, "why?" Other times, a game comes along that just blatantly uses a license to try and sell itself. DEF JAM VENDETTA falls into both of these categories. This is a game that uses Def Jam's rappers in a wrestling game from EA Big, the makers of SSX.

I'm a fan of EA Big, these guys made SSX, SSX TRICKY and NBA STREET, some of the most innovative and fun sports titles to come out on the PlayStation 2. I had large hopes when I popped DEF JAM VENDETTA in for a spin, but I came away from it realizing that the game wasn't more than your typical wrestling title.

The game isn't a straight up brawler, there is a story mode that is moderately entertaining. I found the fighting system to be pretty annoying actually. You can't really chain a lot of moves together, but as you fight your momentum meter builds and eventually allows you to pull off a special move. The controls are well done, although the gameplay does seem a bit broken-up at times and not as fluid as it could be. As a whole, the game does nothing to really get me into it, and there isn't the plethora of modes to deepen the gameplay. It just never really did much for me at all, even if from a technical perspective, it's well done.

I wish there was more, I wish this made wrestling easily accessible and a lot of fun, the way SOUL CALIBUR does for fighting games. But it doesn't. The characters are rappers, and I'm a white boy from Nebraska. Why do I even want to play? Simply, I don't, it's not that much fun, and if you're not interested in wrestling or Def Jam in the slightest, this one doesn't even stand a chance.

For those of you who are into one of those two areas of society, you might find it more entertaining. You're favorite rappers are here, and it is a decent wrestling game. But beyond that, there's nothing special about the game at all, EA Big has done nothing to make it a great game I want to play.

Graphically, the game looks pretty good, I thought the characters looked great and the backgrounds there is a lot of color and detail. The animation is fluid and the animation looks great. It does look good, that's for damn sure.

Musically, if you really like DEF JAM music, you'll enjoy it a lot. But for me, a guy who doesn't really care for rap, I didn't care for it too much. Again, if rap is your thing, DEF JAM has your name written all over it. The sound effects are good though; plenty of nice punching sounds and grunts.


If you like rap or wrestling, DEF JAM VENDETTA is right up your alley. Otherwise, you should rent it first to see how you like it. Maybe wrestling and rap will suit you more than me, or maybe it won't.


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