Def Jam Vendetta - GameCube Review

May 14, 2003

It's about god damn time. It has been way too long since a good wrestling game had been released. And this, my friends, this is a GOOD wrestling game. Better than good. This is a great wrestling game. For too many years, all we've been offered is crap Acclaim games or those god-awful Smackdown travesties. It's about god damn time.

I was out of the country for over a year and I didnít miss a single good wrestling game. Across three platforms, thatís kinda sad. At first, I didnít believe it. I came back and grabbed Wrestlemania X8 for the ĎCube. I mean, when was the last time a bad grappler was released on a Nintendo system? THQís run has ended. Wrestlemania X8 is ass. Crap control, limited moves, crap control, crap control, crap control. I didnít like it. So I returned it for Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth. I neednít have bothered. Smackdown has a fantastic create a wrestler mode, but X8 had four player support. Smackdown prides itself on having the best storylines. Period. End of story. Bullshit. Itís basically a mish mash of various happenings in the WWF (or E) of the last year. At best it made no sense. In fact the only time the ďstorylineĒ was enjoyable was when it made NO sense at all. Like when I pinned my opponent, which caused me to loose the match and then Hogan came out and I posed with him. WTF? But I had NO fun playing the game. Ever. Period. End of Story. Thatís not quite true. Creating wrestlers is fairly fun. But using them in a match sucks all the fun out. The collision detection is suspect. Pulling off finishing moves is frustratingly finicky, compounded by the fact that you canít pick an opponent off the matt without going straight into a grapple. Lame. Frustrating. Annoying. And this is me being polite.

So there I was: pissed off and out 70 bucks. But I had hope. Aki was not making just one game but two. However, they were both a little odd. One was about rappers, the other about a kidís cartoon based on little pink figurines from my youth. But I had hope. I had faith in AKI.

I bought Def Jam Vendetta the day it came out. Would my faith be rewarded or would my girlfriend get to say ďI told you so.Ē She had advised against buying Def Jam. At the very least I should rent it first, she said. But I bought it straight away. And I donít regret the decision for a second.

Letís get the negatives out of the way first. There is no create a wrestler. There are no cage matches, ladder matches, Iron Man matches, I Quit matches or any other style of match other than the basic one on one or tag. The game is pretty bare bones to be blunt. And I donít give a fuck. Because they NAILED the gameplay. Hopefully this game will show the Smackdown developers that ďfast and arcade-yĒ doesnít have to equal ďcrapĒ. This game screams in comparison to past AKI games but it plays just as tight. The wrestlersí arsenals arenít as big as in past AKI games, Not near as many rear grapple or corner moves. You canít flip downed opponents nor raise them to a sitting position, limiting your submission strategy. But this game still has the widest repertoire of moves of any current-gen grappler. By a fair bit. Plus thereís a few nice new additions. Like combos, series of moves that link together and give your character a momentum boost and beaucoup cash. They can really turn the tide of a match. But thereís always the chance that the opponent will reverse. Itís risk versus reward in its purest form. This is wrestling refined. Which is why all those extras arenít really missed. Smackdown has just about any type of match you could want, but you wouldnít want to actually play them. Which is not to say that I donít WANT the extras. If a sequel to this game comes out and nothingís been added but new wrestlers I will be a sad Panda.

So let me take this opportunity to talk about what the sequel needs. It needs a create-a-wrestler. Needs it, needs it, needs it. No ifs and or buts. Needs it. It needs a royal rumble style match. Aki games donít seem the same without them. Rumble matches are an Aki staple. I would love to see a tag team story mode playable by two people. I believe Revenge had this option, and I loved it and have wondered why it hasnít made it into any subsequent release. And it needs to have tonnes of different match types. It need to have weapons. It needs to have blood.

But Iím perfectly happy with Def Jam Vendetta. It controls like a dream. A sweet, sassy, sexy dream with whipped cream. The graphics are glorious. The perfect mix of realistic and cartoony. The rappers look like they should, but slightly exaggerated. The finishing moves are GLORIOUS. Fuck the WWE license if we get cool-ass moves like these in return. The cinemas look a bit compressed, but youíll only watch them once or twice. The girlís photos are nice. Didnít I mention? As you progress in the game, you attract honies, who then fight over you. Classy. And you unlock pretty pictures of them in various states of dress. Claaaaaassy. Emphasis on the assy. The sound is superb. The rappers supply their own voices, which is a nice touch. They also supply the music, which is a great touch. After years, too many years, of having to listen to generic ass rock during wrestling games, rap is a welcome change. A few more tracks wouldnít hurt, but whatíre ya gonna do? Whatís there rocks and fits the atmosphere to a tee. The announcer is serviceable, but Iíd like for the announcer in this game to improve between instalments (or volumes) the way the announcer in NBA Street did. I dig DJ Cucumber Slice. It should go without saying, but Iíll say it anyway: this game OWNS in multi-player. As much as this game grooves in single player, multi-player takes it to another level completely. If you game with others on a regular basis, this game is compulsory, even if you donít like wrestling or rap.

What else can I say? It sounds great, looks greater and plays greatest. It may not have the options of other games out on the market, but it doesnít need them. John Cena said It best. Def Jam is Mega Hard, all other games are micro soft.

- Tyler