We’re back. Today we’re gonna talk about the winner of “2004's Best Fighting Game”, and a game very close to my heart (as always). But- SURPRISE!- I’m not asking for a remake!
Let’s get into this:
WHAT IS IT?
Def Jam: Fight for NY is Fighting/Wrestling game released in 2004 for the XBOX, PlayStation 2, & GameCube. It was developed by AKI Corporation and published by Electronic Arts. It is the sequel to Def Jam Vendetta, and precedes Def Jam Icon
Players can use custom characters, original characters, or over 40 rappers and celebrities in battles of 1v1, 2v2, or up to 4 player free-for-all.
The game features a ton of liscensed tracks from many of the artists featured in the game.
WHY IS IT GREAT?
Def Jam: Fight for NY (from here on out shortened as DJ:FFNY, or just FFNY) starts out with the arrest of D-Mobb, the villain of the first game (he is like a fight promoter/gang leader). While driving back to the Police Station, the vehicle transporting D-Mobb is crashed into and he escapes with the help of an unknown accomplice. Back at the station the officers sketch the suspect, and this is how the player designs their character.
Can we take a moment to acknowledge how cool that is?
The character creation in this game is genius. It’s not as realistic as Icon or as robust as, say, Saints Row- hell, it’s not even as in depth as Mass Effect’s simple creator. But it is absolutely intuitive, and you will always be happy with the results.
Character customization doesn’t end there, however. As you earn money you will buy clothes (featuring real brands like Eckö Unltd and Sean John), and jewelry (from none other than Jacob the Jeweler himself [pre-legal issues]) to further trick out and personalize your character. From head to toe, make the Hip Hop fighter you want.
Speaking of fighting, you also must pick a style for your character. The available fighting styles are Kickboxing, Martial Arts, Street Fighting, Wrestling, and Submission. Each has its own unique moves and specials, and you can train in up to three of them at the in-game gym under the guidance of Henry Rollins.
The final piece is a series of finishers called “Blazin’ Moves”. These are ridiculously flashy, over-the-top special attacks that can only be triggered when a meter is filled, and they are a joy to witness.
FFNY also has some of the most fun matches of a fighting game. Environmental attacks range from bashing an opponent’s face off a brick wall, to shoving them in front of a subway. The crowd plays a HUGE role here as well. They will hand out breakable weapons (like glass bottles and pool cues), and even hold a fighter for some free hits.
Personally, I also love the look of the game. Every rapper is instantly recognizable, yet still stylized in a way that fits the world and feel of the game.
Finally, the music is pretty fuckin’ dope. Instrumentals of the liscensed tracks play during matches, while the songs themselves are heard over the menu.
Music has never fit so well in a video game as the epic final match in Story Mode against the villain Crow (brilliantly played by Snoop Dogg) while the penthouse starts burning to Joe Budden’s “Walk With Me”. I still get goosebumps thinking about, and I owe a debt to the game for introducing me to such an amazing lyricist.
What It Needs
A real successor. FFNY expanded on the idea of Vendetta and improve every single aspect of it. Def Jam: Icon had a single nifty idea but utterly poor execution all around. It was slow, irritating, and devolved into knocking an opponent into a hazard, then activating the hazard by air-DJing your song to play. It was a mess, basically. The roster was cool, the game was not.
FFNY needs a true sequel. A game that takes everything great and enhances it. Refined fighting, more moves, more customization. Eveything. Then it needs to chop off the bad stuff, like the female characters.
The women in this game (while balanced fighters in their own right) exist solely for the player to pick a girlfriend. Pick which one you like, then win her. That’s a real missed opportunity for a boss ass bitch to kick some ass.
Who Should Make It?
I don’t know. AKI is defunct, and the Fight Night team screwed up Icon. I wouldn’t mind seeing NetherRealm take a stab, but they’re WB and Def Jam is EA, so... I’m not sure. Whoever DOES do it, however, should have a skill for fighting games and major love for Hip Hop. Also, the music should still have some real gems from true artists.