Def Jam: Icon Review

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Graphics: 7.0
Sound : 9.5
Gameplay : 6.5
Multiplayer : 8.0
Overall : 7
Review by Kerim Senkal
Break yo'self fool! And watch your back cuz in DEF JAM ICON is dog eat dog…Dogg. Scratch and claw your way up the up the chain in the record game in this fast paced fight to the top there is no room for compromise.

You start out as the protégé of a successful record mogul who takes you under his wing and starts you on your way to becoming a hip-hop ICON. Every step of the way is impeded by crazed fans, rival producers, insatiable paparazzi and dissatisfied artists. It’s up to you to appease your crew and deal with your enemies, and in no uncertain terms, that means fight. Actually, that is basically all there is to this game. The story line involves some decision making, like choosing which artists to try and sign, agreeing to pick up some of the bills for your talent or not, and setting the budget for the songs your artists release. While trying to fatten your bankroll is engaging, it is constantly interrupted by one fight after another. It seems as though your actions really have no effect on the story line though. Messages on your computer inform you of the problems going on with your associates and the efforts of your foes to step in on your game. Sometimes it can become a little confusing trying to keep track of who is upset with you or not and why they are unhappy in the first place. When checking your messages there is a number next to the picture of the sender representing how satisfied they are under your management. Honestly, I never really figured out what impact it had in the game. Artists might be unhappy but it never resulted in anything.

Each issue brought up in your mailbox is resolved with a fight which gets a little old after a while. Supposedly, the point of the game is to be a successful record producer, but throughout the course of the story, your artists only come through with five or six different songs for you to release. That portion of the game (which seemed the most interesting to me) takes a back seat to the immovable story line and the endless fights which, while they do get harder as you become more successful they are a little repetitive as there is not a wide range of moves to learn and master. One cool aspect of the fights is that the environment becomes an integral part of your strategy because parts of the environment will cause damage if a player is too close to a large speaker bank, a broken and burning gas pump or an exposed power transformer for example. Such apparatus will send out a pulse of damage causing bass or flaming chutes every time the beat drops. Also, you are able to grab and throw your opponent towards one of these dangers and control the music to make them explode. The music itself can be manipulated while fighting, you need to buy some time by throwing or knocking down your opponent, then you can perform an action that will switch the song playing to your own theme song. This will be to your advantage because if your song is playing during the fight, you will move faster and cause more damage. There are a few different fighting styles each with its own benefits and drawbacks and as you win fights, more upgraded versions of the fighting styles are unlocked as well as new characters to fight with (in head to head or multiplayer modes). Also, as your songs shoot up the charts, more songs are unlocked.

Speaking of the songs, it is obviously the most appealing aspect of DEF JAM ICON. A wide selection of songs from some of the most popular artists on the hip-hop scene is available. Ludacris, Young Jeezy, Lil’ Jon, Sean Paul, Ghostface Killah, Method man, E-40, and Big Boi, just to name a few, contribute songs as well as to the story. Not to mention, a special appearance by real life DEF JAM ICON, Russell Simmons.

Overall, DEF JAM ICON is a decent game, although a little disappointing in that the story line is unaffected by your actions and decisions throughout. Graphically, this game was down the middle, the cinematic scenes were notable and the in-game fight scene graphics were fair. Obviously the soundtrack is on point. The star power displayed is quite impressive and will be a plus for hip-hop fans. The online play is strait up brawling against other players, and the fact that you can fight with the characters you’ve created is a plus also.