Def Jam: Icon First Look

The gloves are off in our first up-close glimpse of with the Xbox 360 version of EA's funky new fighter.

EA's Def Jam series has continued to mature since its debut in 2003. Although the notion of a fighting game starring hip-hop musicians seemed like a recipe for a disaster of Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style proportions, the Def Jam games have managed to be solid fighters that have improved with every iteration. However, though the last two entries have seen incremental improvements to the presentation and gameplay, the latest entry in the series, Def Jam Icon, seems poised to offer the most significant tweak to the formula since the series first appeared. Though the game is on display for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on the CES show floor, we recently had the chance to get a closer look at the promising fighter to see more than just the gas station level.

Def Jam Icon takes the series another step farther away from simple categorization. Though the series started as a fighter, it has transitioned to a more stylized wrestling feel, with a flexible fighting system. Icon goes one step farther, with EA labeling it a "hip-hop lifestyle" game that integrates the solid fighting elements the previous games are known for with the hip music and musicians that the Def Jam license brings to the table. Credit for the change goes to EA Chicago, who, after busting out the most excellent Fight Night Round 3, is taking the reins on the series from original developer Aki. The result is a fresh take on the series, and it's looking very sharp. Def Jam Icon will revolve around your character's rise to mogul-dom as you build a record label. But despite the fact that the boys at EA Chicago are a talented bunch, the action is light on boardroom dealings, power lunches, and contract writing. Instead, you'll find yourself building your recording empire by knocking fools around in a stylish and unique fashion.

Ludacris and Big Boi are two of the hip hop stars you can look for in Icon.

The combat system in Def Jam has undergone a radical overhaul that retains the elements you'd want in a fighter and tosses some truly funky business into the mix. You'll have four basic attack types--these being low and high attacks that can be delivered strong and slow or light and fast--that you can chain together for different combos and special attacks. But that's just the start of Def Jam's combat. Thanks to EA Chicago's extensive experience with dual-analog-stick systems courtesy of the Fight Night games, Def Jam Icon relies heavily on a similar system that lets you not only smoothly perform offensive and defensive moves, but also use the game's slick new music system.

Music system? Unlike previous entries in the series, Icon's music is an integral component of combat. The songs and their beats trigger hazards in the environment that you'll use to your advantage and factor into combos. In addition, fighters will be more effective when fighting to their own music. As a result, both you and your opponents can "mix" your signature tunes into combat. Best of all, if rap isn't your thing, you'll be able to import tunes into the game that will be synched up as you fight. It's all extremely cool and surprisingly easy to do during combat, which ensures it's a feature that you'll use often in battle.

Despite the fact that the Icon is still a work in progress, the graphics are one of the game's most pleasant surprises. The PS3 and Xbox 360 are more than capable of turning out realistic visuals, and EAC has thrown in a mix of detailed character models that are very close to their real-life counterparts. These are dropped into funky locales that feature the expected amount of next-gen detail with a really appealing sense of style. The three environments we saw--the gas station, club, and rooftop--featured a good amount of eye candy and variety in general. The gas station should be familiar to those who've seen the game in motion. The club is a crazy new fighting arena that has you facing off against enemies in a bumping atmosphere, complete with crazy lights and a video wall that comes in handy when using the environment against your opponent. The rooftop is just that, a fight on the roof of a building, with plenty of objects to interact with and use during battle. The game is looking sharp across both platforms, with some slight variances on each and the expected rough performance spots given its early state.

You really have to see the entire background hopping in time to the music to appreciate this unique new effect.

The audio in the game, always one of the bright spots of the Def Jam series, will once again draw on the Def Jam catalog and serve up a nice spread of tunes and voice. The ability to import your own tunes adds a whole new dimension to the action, which is very cool. As far as voice acting goes, what we've heard so far is sounding pitch perfect thanks to the involvement of the artists. As with the previous versions of the games, the sound effects for beating on people are crunching and rewarding. For those wondering which artists will be lending their voices and likenesses to the action, we've seen T.I., Big Boi, Ludacris, The Game, and Paul Wall mixing it up.

Based on what we've seen, Def Jam Icon is shaping up to be a slick fighter for the PS3 and Xbox 360. The timing is good due to the simple fact that both systems are sadly light on fighters. The unique mechanics have the potential to appeal to both fighting fans and players who don't normally dig the genre. If you're hungry for a fighter or open to a funky new experience, you'll want to keep an eye out for Def Jam Icon when it ships later this year. Look for more on the game soon.

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219 comments
Enigma2K99
Enigma2K99

... Is that Anthony Anderson in one of those screenshots?

nikusan
nikusan

PeteMad, I think you're missing something very obvious, and it's that all those pretty visuals take a lot of power to produce, so load times are somewhat expected. Also, the music, the backgrounds, and everything else. I didn't mind the load times, but that's just me. I don't mind waiting 10-15 seconds.

armandito-14
armandito-14

cant wait for this game i reserved ma copy already i cant wait to go pick it up

xtremeg4m3r
xtremeg4m3r

In the past the ps2 versions have been better. So im pretty sure the ps3 version of def jam icon will be better.

PeteMad
PeteMad

I HATE EA! WHY CAN"T THEY DO ANYTHING ABOUT THEIR FRIGGIN LOAD TIME ISSUES? I TRIED THE XBOX 360 DEMO AND I GOT PISSED AT THE LOAD TIME! WHY DOES A DAMN, STUPID FIGHTING GAME NEEDS SO MUCH TIME TO LOAD? EA, ARE YOU SO CONVINCED THAT THE WHOLE GAMING WORLD LOVES YOU THAT YOU CAN SCREW WITH OUR PATIENCE AND BELIEVE WE DON"T MIND? I CAN"T WAIT FOR THE DAY WHEN YOUR ACHILLES HEEL GETS HIT BY AN ARROW!

PoopTete
PoopTete

the 360 version will be better period the end

orhro
orhro

sssssssssswwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeetttttttttttttttttttttttttt !!!

Funkyhamster
Funkyhamster

What's up with the constant use of the word 'funky'? :| Not that I have anything wrong with 'funky', mind you...

FiveFist
FiveFist

Will it be online thats all i need to know

ching01
ching01

Man I can't wait. Hell yea, import our on music too, now that;s what I'm talking about. I just hope that they still have the free 4 all and It supports online (probably wont though). Non the less this is turningout to be a badass game.

MaG1K9
MaG1K9

the game is gonna be sick, no doubt, Lets just hope they have better gameplay

Nyno93
Nyno93

EA, EA... the new music system, if well implemented, could make a nice work... playing the game with our songs in the ps3 should be damm nice... the environment is a little larger... new and more realistic graphics... and new rappers rock... but, from the videos i've seen, no nice bone cracker and stylish blazin' moves yet... the "magic DJ" feature, isn't that nice, cause' it slows the action... and the grapple system in DJF4NY was, although a little bit complex, really nice, because of the variety of grapple moves you could do, and now i've only seen punch&kick (a little bit slow) action, plus a tiny amount of not-stylish and too realistic street grapples like grab and throw or up to down... and damm... where are team and free for all modes?... let's hope EA knows what it's doin'... and doesn't disapoint us, and instead gives us a 8.5-9.5 game... can't wait to play a demo of this game, to see if it matches what i'm waiting for... DON'T DISAPOINT US, EA, AND GIVE US A GAME WORTH PLAYIN'... ONE THAT WILL KICK DOA AND TEKKEN's ASSES!

Adevilwithin666
Adevilwithin666

I loved def jam 2, it was great to sit around a beat the crap out of my buddies. But now in icon they are only doing straight up one on one fights, it lost a lot of credit to me right there alone. Good idea though to incorporate the music within the game as they did.

TheDestroyer06
TheDestroyer06

I never bought the first few games but here's hoping that this one will be great and of a worthy purchase... I read somewhere that B.G. Knocc Out and Dresta are in it, but I severely doubt it... Here's hoping some real rap legends are in it, like Rakim, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G, MC Ren and countless others and maybe then I'll consider buying it ha ha. Just the thought of slapping Ludacris around with Rakim is awesome! Here's hoping the game can be thoroughly enjoyed by "true hip-hop heads". Peace.

MicK765
MicK765

I don't think anyone should doubt this game till they actually play it

kahuna9995
kahuna9995

I would like to know who at the development meeting came out with the suggestion. "You know what we should do... DJFNY was too gritty and adult.. so to make it a bit less harsh lets mix in elements of the force and see how that goes" that almost scares me as much as the fact that someone green lighted that idea. EA come on I know you could say some of the combat in the original two games was over the top and a little unrealistic but it was brutal, funny and fast. I know you should never judge a game fully until it's in final code but god that looked so slow. I know this game will appeal to fans of hip-hop and rap and that’s cool I buy certain things because I'm a fan of the subject matter but please why take the only decent rap related game and neuter it with a stupid concept.

speedemon
speedemon

it won't completely suck if they did not take the finishing grappling moves from the previous games. i guess we will just have to wait for it to come out before we can actually say it suck..

Daytona_178
Daytona_178

i think we should not buy it becasue when these fat headed rappers see this game flying off the shelf, they are bound to get even bigger heads!!!!!

jasonharris48
jasonharris48

the-no-one if you don't like rap why would spend 59.99 and buy the game? Makes no sense to me

dombot
dombot

This environment-changing thing could either work amazingly or screw up completely. A game called Dance Factory came out that was based completely around making DDR routines from imported songs. It didn't work and flopped. But damn, I hope that doesn't happen again here.

the_no_one
the_no_one

I hate rap! This game is a whole load o ghetto crap! The only good thing is the fighting n graphics, thats the only reason i'd get it, n also to show what I think of 50 cent n Snoop Dogg and all that jazz.

NND1
NND1

Lookz kinda SICK!!!

Alvaro_20
Alvaro_20

hmmmm..... its quite interesting in a way though. it could be either good or trash, depending on the gamer's liking..

M_A_D
M_A_D

EA SUCK !!! what the hell r they thinking , turning one of the best fighting games into some kind of super hero's 2D games ???? if the game will stay the way its , the best place for it to be is the garbage ! SHAME ON YOU EA !!

quinnistheone
quinnistheone

I had watched some NEW Def Jam Icon gameplay videos on youtube, chick it out - "http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=videos&search_query=Def%20Jam%20Icon&search_sort=relevance&search_category=0&page=2" and i can tell you that the new def jam game is definitely SUCK !!! Do not buy it !! man! unless you are a superman fighting fans, cause very character in def jam icon is SUPERMAN !! they can summon fire attack, water attack, electric attack, and they got the ability to control cars, helicopter, etc. their fighting skills are not brutall at all!!! because they all got super puches and kicks, which means one punch or kick can blow your enemy to the sky ~~~~~ and the grahic is ok but very daze, because it is not normal one-on-one fighting, it is super hero fight !! they use their super nature ability to summon fire, water and electric to attack each other, and suddenly your eye is hurt, because there's lots of staffs showed on the TV !!! I DON'T BELIEVE THIS !!!! what hell is wrong with the creator ??!! maybe he like watch marvel too much, that is why he turned all the charater into super heros !!! this is true ! believe me everybody, this is what the def jam icon is like !!! super human fighter !!! OH ~~~ GOD ~~~~ GO TO HELL EA !!!!!!!!

Quintly
Quintly

I like the music and the battles, only the characters can be a lil' better...

Ryozo
Ryozo

Music actually affecting gameplay... wait, let me guess, they took a page from Samuari Champloo: Sidetracked, didn't they? This is not bad in and of itself, but it remains to see how well it is executed. On a lighter note, I suspect some very strange things are possible given that you can import your own music. Imagine, as an example, getting humiliated by someone who decided to bring in tracks from, say, The Idolm@ster... (see also in this vein: running across good Dan Hibiki players, given that he was intended as something of a gag character) But officesmasher and others raise a valid issue: the storyline seems at first glance a bit odd...

BrassMonkey
BrassMonkey

So let me get this straight, you gotta scratch with the right analog stick to summon the enviormental fart, lol

provida
provida

Ea you just ****ed up one of the best fighting games to come out in a long time. WTF is wid the Dj scratching?? you ever try scratchin in a fight?? Hell NO cuz you wud get punched in ur face. the idea was dumb and the man that said yes thats a gud idea should be fired. you also slowed down the fightin and theres no specials. ea been drinkin on the job. no amount of good graphics is gona fool me. loved DJF4NY waited for this game to drop and after seein that(and laughing) i wont be gettin this odd job of a game. nice 1

mikeyg756
mikeyg756

HAHAHAHAHA omfg this looks so bad i think the reason i luaghed was cuase i was in shock i never thought i would hate the look of a def jam game but what the hell have they done to it are they trying to sell a game, or a music CD with pretty pictures.. the fighting looks terrible...

PoyzonMonk
PoyzonMonk

Aww, maaaaan!! I have one question.....WHY?! DefJam: fight for NY was a cool azz game. Why couldn't that format of the game get a facelift and a bunch of tweaks that utilizes the hardware capabilities of the next-gen systems and this format (ICON) come out under a different name?! I would really like to play an updated version of "fight for NY" or at least make a patch so that it can be played on the 360. Well, we will see if "ICON" is a cool game or not... and see if i actually spent money on it!! :(

myketuna
myketuna

Man, this is so bad. AKI created the only wrestling game i like, WCW/nWo REVENGE and they created the, from what I see here, 2 GOOD Def Jam games, why would they go and do something like this? I mean yeah I've heard and seen what EA does, but don't they realize that only real dumb consumers who are drawn to the hip-hop image are gonna buy this? I mean wow. That is a lot, but a helluva lot more would be buying this along with them if it were a nice upgrade of the AKI games. The disc scratching, wall jumping, environmental hazards nonsense looks bad. The fighting, to me anyway, seems very slow now, it has like a delay to everything. Man. EA really from what I see, has dropped the ball. I'll give it a chance, but I'm pretty sure this is garbage.

FALLOUT_PUNK
FALLOUT_PUNK

Lame....I watched this again and it still looks like crap....I will NOT be buying this. Hail AKI!

KUNG-LO
KUNG-LO

Every time I see the trailer I cry a little. Why EA why ? No AKI no fun. Two guys fighting in a club and one of them stops to scratch a beat in a tune to make the beat jump so that the screen will jump and a tv will fall on his enemies head ??? WTF is that all about magic moves comes to Defjam to make game more authentic ??Lawd have mercy :(

KUNG-LO
KUNG-LO

With any luck this might be a side game just a brand extension game. And EA wil come to there senses and release Defjam4 : Down and Durty (Return to New York AKA Crows revenge). Now that would be sweet And they get the old boys that made defjam NY to make a PS3 update of PS2 version. I mean DJNY was almost perfect what more did EA have to do but improve graphics, new storyline, new clothes, and new story about Crow trying to come back or a new crew of rappers Called the Upstarts trying take over. Simple no ? How could EA drop the ball on this maybe their trying to kill the DefJam License ?

officesmasher
officesmasher

Oh god no!! wtf are they doing?! DJ: F4NY was so cool and now they've dropped the original developers and have filled the game with stupid gimmics. And why the f% would you be beating the s¤/# out of rappers when you're building a record label?! in F4NY you atleast had an ok reason to give people a good kicking. It doesn't look like there is much to the gameplay either. It looks repetive. The graphix look really good but the rest sucks. Typical EA. This makes me sad :'(

AFWorm
AFWorm

Not my kind of game. But it seems like quality.

killahblacc
killahblacc

they should have differnt groups instead of D-mob and crow they should have dipset,DTP,G-unit.Clover G,and such. They should also have 50 so i can use Jadakiss to **** him up or Lil flip so i can ****up T.I

lilneptune
lilneptune

i was going to buy this but after hearing no specials and seein jumping walls and slow fighting its definatley a rental.

Destroyer7_2004
Destroyer7_2004

Why change somthing good? I dont know truly def jam 1 was a good wrestling game. DJFNY was a near perfect fighting game with good chracters and story line. Now DJI look innovative but cmon chaging the whole fighting system looks a little iffy. The fighting looks too simple the beat thing makes it to surreal and the whole rap record label takes it out of the story. So we forget about D-mob fighting for clubs and respect. everything. I'll still get the game cause i love DJ but cmon EA .

quinnistheone
quinnistheone

Damn !! I Dream that one day U.S Fighting games can overcome all those japs Tekken and Dead or Alive series !! I think Def Jam: Fight For NY is definitely beat all those japs fighting games already, just nobody notice yet. because with def jam's Brutal MMA style of fighting + Brutal blaze moves and dirty moves ( including- head butting, kick to the ball, hit on the wall and eye poke, etc.) can beat all those fighting styles of tekken and DOA!! don't you think??? but, look at it now on the 3rd def jam, the game play video just showed us how the fighting action looks like - kick, kick, kick and punch, punch, punch and throw, then is the music bang! bang! and that's it so far, that just not it!! man~~~~ i hope this game will have more than that, don't let us down !!

Unknown_Legend
Unknown_Legend

Talk about a step backwards that whole air scratching sh** looks dumb and punkish, what every happened to just leting the environment work when thrown against it like in the last game? This video was painful to watch, four punches, thre kicks, and one damn throw, I might as well wait for Tekken, oh yea nevermind the last Tekken sucked too.

M-Yu
M-Yu

Looks real good Can't wait to get PS3

decoy1978
decoy1978

If they did take out the special moves that would really suck. I felt that one of the good points of Def Jam was that you buy crazy ending moves.

blitz2
blitz2

I think that this game is gonna suck. One thing THEY TOOK OUT THE FREAKING SPECIALS moves. The previous Def jam games had a special move at the end of the match but this game doesn't have it. so i think alot of people are gonna be upset cause of that.