Def Jam Vendetta is being touted by EA as Fight Club meets hip-hop, which is actually a very good description of the game. In fact, based on what we've seen and played of Def Jam Vendetta, the game is a mix of traditional fighting and wrestling games, along with that unique EA Big style that's been seen in games like NBA Street and SSX.
The most interesting aspect of Def Jam Vendetta is that it features 12 real-life Def Jam recording artists as characters. The 12 artists include DMX, Ludacris, Method Man, Redman, N.O.R.E., Scarface, and WC, among others. To round out the roster the game will also include a large number of original characters, which will bring the total up around 47.
The game will feature three modes of play: story, battle, and survival. The game's story mode is the main mode for a single player who's looking for a challenge. In story mode you pick one of four original characters and try to make it through the underground fighting circuit. It's set up similarly to a ladder system in a fighting game, with pauses in between matches for short cinemas that reveal more of the game's storyline. The story itself is about getting to the top of the fighting circuit and taking out the boss that runs it all, D-Mob. Along the way, there are side matches between girls interested in you. You can choose to fight as one of the girls, and the victor will end up at your side. In addition, other characters will join you every few matches for some tag team fun. The game also has a multiplayer battle mode for up to four players. The battle mode has four different game types: single, tag team, free-for-all, and handicap.
The gameplay in Def Jam Vendetta combines critical elements of traditional fighting and wrestling games. You can lock up and perform grappling moves and throws, as well as punch and kick opponents. Each character has his own taunt and special move, which can be performed once you've pummeled your opponent enough to fill his "blazin' meter." The fighting game system is being developed and implemented by AKI Corporation, which is best known for its work on some of THQ's past wrestling games, such as WWF No Mercy for the N64. In all, Vendetta will include more than 1,500 moves. Though the game is early in development, the gameplay is already fast and responsive, and there's constant action inside and outside the ring.
Visually, Def Jam Vendetta is shaping up quite well. The character models we were shown for DMX, Redman, Method Man, and the other well-known Def Jam recording artists looked great. The game has the unique look of an EA Big game--realistic but slightly cartoonish. The character models and facial animations of the fighters are already looking very sharp. In the audio department, Def Jam Vendetta will feature around 15 licensed tracks. The game will also feature sounds and voices from the actual artists being portrayed in the game.
We were impressed by what we saw and played of Def Jam Vendetta, though the game is still pre-alpha and is not expected to ship until sometime in February 2003. Look for more information on Def Jam Vendetta in the coming months.