def jam vendetta: ghetto fabulous

I was pretty excited when I first saw the announcement for Def Jam Vendetta. I like EA Big (although Freekstyle was underwhelming), and I like most of the rappers in the game, and it just looked like a generally fun concept. Despite this, I didn’t pick it up when it first came out. I was (and still am) in the middle of a pile of other games, and I wanted to make sure I really liked it before dropping fifty bucks on it.

Nobody had it for rental, though! Blockbuster continued their ridiculous habit of stocking one copy of games that are well-hyped and much-expected and fifteen copies of stupid games that nobody wants to play – but that’s another story. Hollywood had DJV, but only for PS2, and my personal imperative is to always buy the GCN version unless the other console’s version is far superior.

Finally, I gave in and picked up DJV. Immediately I was appalled at the graphics. I sat there, watching the tutorial, and I felt like I was watching an over-enlarged mpeg movie of gameplay. I turns out that I was. I have absolutely /no/ idea what the hell possessed the developers to do that. It looks incredibly bad, and it made me wonder if the whole game was going to look so ass. On top of that, the tutorial sucked. There was no practical element to it, and it left out reversals, which are probably the most important part of advanced fighting. Arrgh!

Once I started working through the game, teh total alienness of the controls frustrated me. I’ve since been assured that they’re mostly standard controls for wrestling games. I haven’t played one of those since whatever the one was on NES that had the guy with a star on his face. WCW? I’m not sure. The first few times I played, I came really close to savagely attacking the cube. The controls were so weird, and I just felt like I was mashing buttons (which I was).

A friend and I played a few hours of it, though, and I got a bit more of an idea how to play. Then I found the difficulty setting and turned it down, and I’ve been doing much better. That is, I’m winning more, but I’ve also managed to figure out how to do most of the stuff in the game. The big mystery remains reversals.

Now that I know what I’m doing (and now that the opponants are idiots), I’m doing pretty well. The controls make sense, and that’s pretty much the most important thing in a game like this. I can forget about what they all do and just play.

The game is pretty simple. I’m some thug, and I fight lots of other thugs in a boxing ring. It’s like professional wrestling, but it’s all “underground” and “ghetto” and, because it’s EA Big, “totally impossible.” There are finishing moves in which characters are repeatedly body slammed by way of cartwheels, and so on.

The ladder works something like this: most fights are against generic fighters. These fighters are all distinct, but they don’t have backstories and motivations and secrets. This isn’t Soul Calibur. After defeating four fighters, you fight a Def Jam rapper. The rappers are quite a bit harder than the normal thugs, but so far they’ve been bearable. Of course, that’s at Easy. When I was fighting at Normal, some of them were incredibly challenging.

Roughly every third battle, there’s a tag team match. These are less fun, I think, than the normal battles. The camera is weird when there are more than two fighters. Also, I only bothered now to learn how to switch my focus between opponants. You can imagine how frustrating it is to need to fight Method Man but keep swinging at Redman.

Also occurring at similar intervals are catfights. After you win a few matches, the local hoez start throwing themselves at you. Once you’ve got one, you can “buy” photos of the real model on whom the game chick was based. When a second chick comes for you, the two will fight. You pick the one you want and play her in a fight with the other. This lets you unlock new characters and galleries. I think the idea is pretty hilarious, and it’s well done. It’s a much more interesting way to put “girls with boobies” into a game, but I can take or leave the galleries. The actual catfight stuff is funny, though.

I don’t think it should take me too much longer to beat the game on my first run through, although if the bosses get much harder toward then end, maybe it will. The game is a big time-consumer: matches often run around ten minutes long (though they’re sometimes /much/ shorter). It’s good for two-players, but I’m still not sold on the three- and four-player fights.

Once I’ve got some more experience with that, I’ll rant more.

Written on May 4, 2003
gamecube   games   gamesite   videogame