Review: Def Jam Vendetta

Wrestling is big in the US, really really big. There's just one big US wrestling license though. Since THQ has that license, they were the only publisher that could profit from America's love for big men in ridiculous clothes. Untill now that is, because EA came up with the idea to license another group of men where funny clothing and smacktalk are order of the day. EA licensed the Def Jam crew and hired AKI to make a wrestling game with these rappers. AKI has already proven to be pretty good at making wrestling games, they're the ones that made the legendary WWF Wrestlemania 2000 for the N64. Rappers in a wrestling game may sound kind of weird, it works strangely well though.

The main mode of the game is the story mode. The story is a typical American gansta rap one, filled with excitement, romance, friendship, loyalty and of course violence. Your character picks up wrestling again to help his injured friend Manny, but ends up falling in love with the wrong girl and wrestles his way to the top to impress her. The end is happy like it is in any good story, but the road to get there is unpaved, filled with bruises and relationships gone wrong. Sorry, got carried away there. The story is pretty cheesy, but it's nice to have a story in a wrestling game. That plus you get to fight girl fights, don't try to tell me you wouldn't like to do that.


Where wrestling games often suffer from sloppy animations and bad character models, Def Jam does not. It has great animations and very detailed models. Just look at the faces of the wrestlers, they really have personality, unlike the wooden dolls you usually get to fight. The characters are done really well. The 12 Def Jam rappers really look like the actual rappers (they're a bit more muscular in the game though) and the original characters all have a unique look. That's quite impressive, as there are 32 of them! The different stages look nice, but a lot of them look very similar, and the area where you fight more or less looks the same in each stage.


All the real Def Jam rappers have contributed some voicework to make their game versions feel more real. Unfortunately they didn't do much more than a bit of smacktalk before fights. Apart from that, the sound effects are good enough for a wrestling game, falling to the floor from the turnbuckle sounds as painful as it should sound. Fortunately the Def Jam crew contributed more to this game than just their looks and voices, they put together the soundtrack as well. This can be a bad thing if hiphop is not your thing, but it is the most fitting music to listen to while beating up rappers. The soundtrack raises a few questions though. Why do we hear Public Enemy rapping about fighting the power, when we can't choose Chuck D or Flava Flav to fight with? A quick look at Def Jam's website show us we miss out on Ja Rule, Jay-Z and LL Cool J as well. Not really a big problem, but is would be nice to have them in the game too.


If there's one thing AKI know how to do, it's making good wrestling games. And a good wrestling game this is. The idea of a wrestling game with rappers may seem strange, but underneath the visuals and sounds this is just a solid wrestling game. Winning a match can be done in three ways. The first is simple, just pin down your opponent with your foot and hope he won't be able to stand up for three seconds. You can also make you opponent give up, this is done by doing a submission hold on the same part of his body multiple times. Every body part has it's own health bar, and you automatically give up if one of them is depleted. The third way to win is by a special move KO. Fill up your momentum meter by varying your moves and taunting, then flick the C-stick to go into Blazin' mode. Slap around your opponent to empty his health, grab him and flick the C-stick again while in Blazin' mode and you perform your lethal KO move. Not only is this a good way to win a match, it's great to look at. Every character has his own unique Blazin' KO move and all of them look extremely painful and impossible to perform in real life, which is a good thing in these kind of games.

The fact that you have three different ways of winning makes fights more interesting, you can concentrate on gaining momentum, you can wear down the health of a part of your opponent's body or you can try to get his health down quickly and pin him down. Especially in multiplayer mode this makes the game very interesting, because not everybody will go for the same method to win.

Apart from the multiple ways to win, this is a pretty standard wrestling game. It's all in here, punches, grabs, throws, running and jumping from the turnbuckles. Strangely missing though are the throwable chairs and things like cagefights which are standard wrestling game ingredients these days. The amount of game modes you can choose is very limited, apart from the Story mode, there's just Survival mode and a couple of multiplayer modes.


Controlling your rapper/wrestler is as simple as it should be. B punches or kicks and A grabs your opponent. If you hold A or B down longer, the attack will be stronger. R blocks punches and L blocks grabs. Push L or R exactly in time with the attack you want to block, and you'll push away the attacker, giving you time to counterattack him. X makes your fighter run or climb the turnbuckle, Y makes him climb through the ropes and the C-stick makes him taunt his opponent. All the buttons are context sensitive, which takes a little effort to get used to, but makes the game very easy to control once you get the hang of it. B for instance, is your punch/kick button, so when you're holding an opponent it punches him to the ground. When you're running, B does a running attack, and if an oppont is on the floor you do a dropkick. The only thing confusing in the controls is changing focus. If you're pitted against multiple enemies, Z changes the opponent on which you focus your attacks. It only works when you're doing nothing else though, and it's not clear on who you're focus is all the time. This makes fights against three opponents very irritating, you'll try to grab the wrong opponent a lot, leaving your fighter open to attacks.


The game's Story mode will keep you occupied for a while, since it's quite long and playable on three difficulty levels. There are characters and pictures of ladies (nothing shocking) to unlock, but that won't keep you up for more than a few nights. There's more lastability to be found in the multiplayer modes. This game is very easy to pick up, so your friends will be able to put up a decent fight in no time. Four player free for all matches are a lot of fun, even though the focus changing can be a bit frustrating at times. After a while though, the game loses it's charm. If your friends don't want to be beaten by you again, it gets a little boring to go through the single player modes after a few times. Extra game modes could spice up the lastability a lot, both single and multiplayer would probably remain interesting a lot longer if the game had offered a few more modes. Don't get this wrong, you won't put Def Jam aside after two days, but don't expect it to stay in your cube for the rest of the year.

Final Say:

AKI certainly succeded in making a fun wrestling game. On top of that, they've managed to keep it completely free of ridiculous men wearing tights. If you've played and enjoyed wrestling games before, there's a great chance you'll like this one a lot. If you're not sure about wrestling games, Def Jam is worth giving a try too. The controls are simple but good, the story is funny and the graphics are nice. That and you get to beat up DMX, how often does that happen?

N-Europe Final Verdict

Finally a wrestling game without those annoying wrestlers!

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Solid controls
Player models look great


Not enough game modes
Focus changing

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