Def Jam: Fight For NY Updated Hands-On

We go toe-to-toe with the sequel to the critically acclaimed Def Jam Vendetta at EA's annual press day.

At today's Electronic Arts press event, Def Jam: Fight for NY, the sequel to last year's well-received wrestling game, Def Jam Vendetta, was on hand and fully playable. We spent some time checking out the game's new, more street-fighting-oriented gameplay system, as well as some of the many customizable aspects of the game. All told, we were quite impressed by what we played.

Check out the latest footage of Def Jam: Fight for NY in full motion. Click the stream option for a larger view. Def Jam: Fight for NY features a gameplay engine similar to the engine used in last year's game, which most any longtime wrestling game fan will recall was the famed Aki Corporation wrestling engine. This year's game engine is mechanically similar, but it is also less oriented around pure wrestling. You will have two strike buttons, a grapple button, and a run button at your disposal on the four main controller buttons. Strikes and grapples are weak and strong, depending on the amount of pressure you put on each button respectively (holding down the button performs a stronger strike or grapple). Fight for NY features five distinct fighting styles--including kickboxing, street fighting, martial arts, submissions, and wrestling--that each character will make use of, so your style of strikes and grapples will largely depend on that fighting style. Wrestlers will do more slams and suplexes, whereas kickboxers will rely on brutal strikes more heavily.

Environments will also play a big part in the game's action. There is no ring in Fight for NY; rather, you will be brawling in one of several different urban, almost Fight Club-esque areas. Each and every environment in the game is fully interactive, allowing you to slam your opponents into objects, use scattered weapons, or actually involve the crowd in the action. Some examples of this we saw included one area where a number of parked cars surrounded our fighting space. We could knock our opponent up against one of the SUVs parked there, and by grappling him as he was lying against the front of the truck, we were able to perform a move where we actually slammed him into the windshield of the vehicle. In another instance, we actually were able to repeatedly slam his head into the side door of the SUV, until we finally busted him through it. Some of the crowd moves we saw were also quite cool. By knocking our opponent backward into the crowd, the nearest crowd member simply put our opponent into something of a full nelson, allowing us to walk up, grapple, and then perform a slam move with the help of the crowd member.

Def Jam Vendetta had a story mode, though it wasn't a terribly deep one. In Fight for NY, the game's story mode will feature a full range of character customizations, allowing you to vastly improve your character as you play. The story itself takes place almost immediately following the first game's point in history. D-Mobb, the primary antagonist from the first game, is in police custody for shooting Manny (the best-friend character from last year's game). However, an unknown suspect eventually busts in and rescues D-Mobb from the cops. As it turns out, that suspect is you. In order to create your character, you'll actually use a police sketch artist to design him. Once you're in, you'll find yourself in a turf war against Crow, another supreme gangster (played by Snoop Dogg).

Aside from many, many fights in which you can take part in Fight for NY's story mode, you'll also be able to peruse a number of shops to spend your hard-earned cash. You can hit up a tattoo parlor to get yourself inked, visit Jacob the Jeweler to ice yourself up, purchase clothes from one of 12 licensed clothing brands at the local clothiers, and get your hair done at the barber shop. When you're not decorating yourself, you'll be able to visit with the game's trainer (played by punk-rock veteran and spoken-word aficionado Henry Rollins), who will teach you up to two new fighting styles, which you can use to create something of a hybrid style for your character.

More than 40 real-life artists and celebrities will make their presence known in Fight for NY, ranging from the true hip-hop personalities--such as Busta Rhymes, Method Man, Redman, Flava Flav, Ice-T, Bubba Sparxxx, Ludacris, Sticky Fingaz, David Banner, and the aforementioned Snoop Dogg--to popular actors and actresses like Omar Epps, Carmen Electra, Danny Trejo, and, of course, Mr. Rollins himself. Every single celebrity in the game is fully playable, so now, finally, you can see who was truly the superior actor from the movie Heat, Trejo or Rollins.

The only version of the game on display was the PlayStation 2 version. However, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the game's graphics. Fight for NY is looking extremely tight visually, with all-new animations (as opposed to the number of recycled Aki animations from last year's game) and really impressive detail in each and every one of the character models and environments. You will notice a reflective shine effect on everything, which brightens up what would otherwise be rather dank fighting arenas. It, like everything we saw of the game, looked extremely nice.

After spending some time with it today, we can't wait to spend even more time with Def Jam: Fight for NY in the future. We'll have more coverage of the game as its fall release date draws closer.

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