Fans of bare-knuckle brawling and hip-hop and rap music will be psyched to pick up EA games' third installment of Def Jam Icon. However, as I'm not much of a fan, I wasn't all that psyched when it arrived.
In Build-A-Label mode, the game opens with a couple of cutscenes that show your character getting shot and killed on a neighborhood sidewalk. Then the back story has him running into some trouble in a music club, where he must begin fighting his way to the top while the music thumps and patrons dance. You get to customize your character before the action starts with a wide array of options from which to choose in Build-A-Suspect mode.
Def Jam is an interesting twist on old-school fighting games with the addition of plenty of music choices playable throughout the game as a backdrop the brawling. You can even change songs using the left and right analog sticks during the fight and do a little scratchin' while wiping the floor with your opponent. It also helps if a song you choose before a fight is playing when you get your opponent down, as you can apply a musical version of "kick 'em when they're down."
I particularly like the Throw-Down mode, which allowed me to get right into the fight against characters such as Ghostface Killa, Ludacris, Method Man and other music icons. And of course, their music is featured in the game.
So, sound-wise, this game was pretty decent. And the detail to which you could customize your character is great.
Unfortunately, the playability and background graphics of Def Jam on the PS3 left something to be desired. The controls take some getting used to; along with the timing of attacks as my character seemed maddeningly slow to react to my commands. Another useful fighting function of grabbing an opponent and slamming him to the ground was difficult to the point of being almost useless, leaving me to resort mostly to hitting button combinations to take out opponents.
The background graphics looked blocky and a bit blurry. They just didn't live up to the PS3 beauty with which I'm familiar.
Def Jam Icon is a good idea for a game, if poorly executed. It's a twist on the time-honored formula of countless other games in which you fight to rule countries, fiefdoms or whole regions of the globe. But here, you're fighting your way up to rule the neighborhood using iron fists and raw-boned music.
I wasn't particularly fond of this game; it's just not something I'd want to play often — if ever again. If, like me, you prefer sports games and shooters, Def Jam Icon probably isn't for you. And I definitely wouldn't recommend it for kids, since it's both violent and full of foul language.