Time to put your money were your mouth is and lay the smackdown, rapper style!

User Rating: 8 | Def Jam Vendetta PS2
I already know any game featuring rappers will get mixed reactions from people. Just the mention of "rapper" already draws negativity from miles away. But hey, whether you love rap or hate it, you can have some fun jumping in the ring to lay a beatdown on some of your most loved or most hated rap artists!

The Wu-Tang game was a bust and even Method Man thought so. But this game, from AKI Corp. is surprisingly pretty good. The engine comes directly from the acclaimed WWF No Mercy but add some speed to it and you have Def Jam Vendetta.

Despite the numerous rappers, players will take control of one of four generic fighters who agrees to wrestle to help his pal, Manny, out of some debts. The story (yes, there is a pretty good story mode) unfolds as the player fights to regain his honour, his girlfriend and some respect. This is done so by beating every wrestler in every club until the eventual confrontation with D-Mob, the primary antagonist.

The celebrated game engine carries the gameplay. The animations are smooth and many of the wrestling moves (though shamelessly copied from the WWE) are wicked. The wrestling rules are pretty traditional.

Winning is achieved by the three-count pinfall, submission or KO, done only by performing a super move. The move in question is acquired after filling up a bar by performing various moves and thus building momentum. The finishers are pretty damn sick (maybe in both meanings) too. Think of WWE finishers on steroids and crack and you have them.

What is lacking in the game are various non-traditional matches like ladder matches, cages matches or even hardcore matches or streetfights. You'd think a game loaded with rappers and street thugs would have some good chair-bashing and chain-strangling opportunities but alas, there is none.

The featured rap artists like DMX, Method Man, Redman and others only account for about a third of the roster. The rest are composed of game-created street thugs of various personalities from Vanilla Ice wannabes (if that's not an orthodox) to preachers to breakdancers and to whatever else the rest are. A few 'dames' (complete with hot unlockable real life pics) are also playable.

The stages are pretty varied too from rooftop rings to junkyard rings to wherever but they're not very interactive. They're just differently designed rings and it would've been nice if there were at least a weapon or two or some destructibility. It would've been cool if powerbombing someone would result in the ring's collapse but that may be asking for too much.

Both single player and multi player modes are fun. The story is engaging and entertaining enough for a run or two and the traditional tag-team, free-for-all and handicap matches can be loads of fun for a good amount of hours.

Graphics are pretty good, the voice acting, music and overall sound quality is topnotch. Chris Judge does great work as the menacing mob boss, D-Mob and the rappers do a pretty decent job voicing themselves.

The game is great and it's hard to complain but the lack of interactivity and match types does reduce the game's appeal and replay-ability by a bit. Some prominent Def Jam rappers were missing too. Where's LL Cool J? I mean he looks like a real wrestler. But nonetheless, discard a couple of hours of your free time to try this game out and lay the smackdown, rapper-style!