Def Jam Rapstar Updated Hands-On

We got a fresh look at this urban karaoke experience and battled 4mm Games president Jamie King for bragging rights.


Gazing around your local games store, you'll notice that there's certainly no shortage of rhythm or karaoke games. SingStar, Lips, Guitar Hero World Tour, Rock Band, and Karaoke Revolution seem to have karaoke gameplay pretty well covered, but developers 4mm Games is banking on the power of hip-hop, a partnership with Def Jam Recordings, and some unique features to swing the balance in its favour. We took a closer look at this infectious title at GamesCom 2009, in Cologne, Germany.

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What's New: While the set list is still a work-in-progress, we got a good idea of what to expect with tracks that included Gold Digger by Kanye West, Always on Time by Ja Rule, Rapper's Delight by The Sugarhill Gang, They Reminisce Over You by Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Live Your Life by T.I., Molotov 4 by Sefyu, Mein Block by Sido, Put On by Young Jeezy, Right Round by Flo Rida, Stand Up by Ludacris, and around 30 more tracks from the likes of Run DMC. Regionalised artists will also appear in the game, such as Dizzee Rascal for the UK release. One cool idea King mentioned is that every performance uploaded to servers can be geotagged, allowing you to see if you're the best at a particular track in your suburb, city, or even your country.

According to King, regular DLC updates will allow 4mm Games to publish songs that fall into subgenres or niches. He also confirmed that while all of the songs are radio edits, there won't be any changed words, and the uncensored lyrics may skew the game to an older audience. Given the material they're dealing with, this seems like a sensible approach. King also told us that some songs are particularly suited to duets, and while female artists will make an appearance, there will be plenty of songs "for the fellas."

What's Different: We pulled up our socks, tightened our belt, and challenged 4mm Games president and rapper extraordinaire Jamie King at Kanye West's Golddigger. Unfortunately, we lost, unlike Chris Watters, but had plenty of fun letting our inner rap star out of its cage. Even if you're not into listening to hip-hop, there's something infectious and energetic about it as a genre, and it's hard not to want to bust out some dope lyrics in the process.

What's The Same: When you're singing, the graphics appear very similar to those in SingStar or Lips, with a bar displaying your pitch and timing, a multiplier bar, and the words appearing above or below. If you have a camera plugged in, you can use it to record your performance, and at the end of the song you can add a range of graphical effects and then upload a 30-second clip to the Def Jam Rapstar Web site. You also get scored on various indicators, including text (saying the right words), "takt" (timing), and "tonlage" (pitch), as well as your multiplier. King says the game will support all existing microphone peripherals, as well as the Xbox Live Vision and PlayStation Eye cameras, and there are plans to launch peripheral bundles with the game at launch.

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What Impression The Game Made This Time: Def Jam Rapstar is still in development, and all the graphics we saw were merely placeholders. However, the game shows a lot of potential. The included songs seem destined to create countless living-room battles, and the community aspect sounds like it might set it apart from its existing competitors. Def Jam is currently scheduled for a fourth-quarter 2009 release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii.

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