Def Jam: Vendetta's successor boasts a ludicrous (no pun intended) amount of characters, features and match types

User Rating: 8.5 | Def Jam: Fight for NY PS2
Close your eyes and imagine you're Sean Paul. Now imagine
yourself beating the crap out of Snoop Dogg in a Jamaican fight club, with Ice-T's "O.G. Original Gangster" playing in the background. Welcome to Def Jam: Fight For New York. If the scenario above sounds ridiculous, prepare to be blown away because the madness has only begun.

The game's main story is one of betrayal, brotherhood and loyalty. The first scene opens with D-Mob - The main villain of the last game - being arrested after the ending fight in Def Jam: Vendetta. What follows is a series of events that ends with you describing a suspect to a police sketch artist. This serves as the game's character creation tool; Anyone you create here can be selected in exhibition mode.

In an interesting twist that turns your greatest enemy into your mentor and ally, you become a member of D-Mob's crew and fight your way to the top until you become the best there is. Basically, it's like the Monday Night Wars, with D-Mob and Crow - Played by Chris Judge and Snoop Dogg respectively - acting as Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff. I don't want to spoil anything, but I can say that the main story mode is incredibly gritty, involving and fun to play through. Complete with an intelligently written plot containing several twists and turns around every corner, it kept me very entertained from start to finish.

After creating your character, you'll pick one of five fighting styles - Martial Arts, Submissions, Kickboxing, Wrestling or Street-Fighting - for your character to utilize. You'll then be taken through a tutorial on the game's basic mechanics.

The controls are rather complicated, but once you get used to the fighting mechanics, it'll be on like Donkey Kong. The control settings are noticeably different than most wrestling games and the gameplay feels loose at times, but other than that, I have no complaints about the controls.

Different environmental grapples can be utilized in certain stages, many weapons are available during fights, and the crowd can even get in on the action as well; If you throw an enemy into the crowd, the bystanders will likely beat the crap out of him. You can also grab weapons from the crowd to use on your foes.

You'll fight in and unlock several arenas throughout the story mode, as well as unlock more fighters and songs. You can customize the music you unlock by selecting songs to be played in a specific order, but this feature only works in exhibition mode.

The game features over 40 characters, including the likenesses and voice work of artists like Bless, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Method Man, Lil' Kim and many more. In
addition to the rappers, there's also some Hollywood star power with celebrities like Omar Epps and Carmen Electra, as well as several original fighters.

The graphics are awesome, and there's tons of stuff happening on-screen in every fight; The crowds, the fighting animations and everything in between always looks great.

The soundtrack is strictly rap music, past and (at the time) present. Although all of the songs are either censored versions or radio edits, there still is an overwhelming abundance of cuss words used in the game. The "F" word was used only once, but the "S," "B," and "A" words are used frequently throughout the entire game.

Final verdict: This game is BALLIN'! Not only did this game spark for me a new-found interest in hip-hop, it also reminds me that, no matter what, games will forever be just that: Games. Every now and then, I find a game that doesn't take itself too seriously, and is simply about having fun. I'd recommend this game to anybody who's a fan of rap music, or a fan of fighting games. If you're into both, then this game is a real treat.