Def Jam: Fight for New York E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

Electronic Arts shows off more of its upcoming impressive-looking Aki-developed fighter/grappler sequel.

At a recent press event, reps from Electronic Arts gave us a look at Def Jam: Fight for New York, the game formerly known as Def Jam Vendetta II--the follow-up to 2003's hip-hop-influenced wrestler developed by Japan-based Aki. The brief trailer for the game touted a number of new gameplay features that were being implemented into the fighting system. During the demo, we were finally able to see the new features in motion, and we already appreciate the game's new spin toward being more about pure fighting rather than wrestling.

The demo showed off the way the fighting system has changed from the original, which skewed more toward the traditional wrestling mechanics that Aki is known for. Fight for New York's focus will be more on brawling and street fighting. You'll find five fighting classes to choose from: street fighter, kickboxer, martial artist, wrestler, and submissions expert. In addition, each class will have its own subspecialty and distinct special attacks. As you go through the game, you'll be able to improve your fighter's abilities through winning battles and training in the gym.

Besides the fact that the mechanics for combat have changed, the actual experience is different too. You'll now be able to interact with the environment around the ring, which is usually filled with rowdy supporters of the latest brawl. In addition to slamming your opponent into parts of the scenery, such as beams and klieg lights, you can use objects to bring some pain too. The way the game is being balanced, the crowd will offer you varying degrees of assistance based on whether you're ahead or behind in a battle. For instance, they may hit your opponent for minor damage, or they may give you a weapon to use, such as a bottle. Also, if you manage to break certain objects with your opponent, such as the aforementioned beam, you may find that you've made yourself a new weapon.

The game's story will revolve around a turf war between returning gangster D-Mobb's crew and newcomer Crow, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Snoop Dogg. You'll play an original character that you'll create yourself. The character-creation process sounds as though it's going to be pretty novel. You'll actually have the choice of choosing from some premade archetypes by picking them out of a police lineup, or you can make your own character by "talking" with the police sketch artist. Once you've settled on a look and a fighting style for your virtual self, you'll be able to go about your business. As you go through the game, you'll encounter a wide variety of well-known hip-hop artists who will play the roles of various characters and bosses. The characters will have their own unique attacks and alternate outfits. The female characters will get into some unique situations, since the game's girlfriend mechanic (which found you juggling ladies in between matches) is back and is enhanced.

The arenas you'll be fighting in will feature more than 22 different locales and will vary in size and layout, which forces you to be quick on your feet during combat. As you'd expect, the areas will feature a strong urban feel that's drawn straight from hip-hop culture.

In addition to one-on-one fighting, you'll find that the multliplayer mode is going to offer some cool business, thanks to a number of different modes that feature different types of fights. For example, Inferno matches pit you against a foe in a ring of fire, while window matches reward you for throwing enemies into specific locations.

The graphics in the game are looking extremely impressive and move fluildly. Furthermore, the massive roster of celebrity guests adds a hefty dose of personality to the proceedings. The environments that we've seen so far look sharp and are certainly coming together well.

Def Jam: Fight for New York is currently slated to ship this fall for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. Look for more on the game from the E3 show floor and in the coming months.

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