For years, hip-hop beefs were best kept on wax. Thanks to a new video game, however, players with grudges against thugs like DMX and Scarface can seek out their vengeance at home on their TV screens.
"Def Jam Vendetta," a new game for PlayStation2 and GameCube slated for release early next year, features a dozen Def Jam artists doing battle in various underground, street-fighting scenarios. Ludacris, Method Man, Redman, N.O.R.E. and Ghostface Killah are just a few of the rapping grapplers who complete a roster of 45 characters. Def Jam artists also provide the game's soundtrack.
"We didn't just want to put the greatest Def Jam music in the game," said Steve Schnur, top executive of Electronic Arts' music division. "[EA and Def Jam] came up with the title together, to create a hip-hop world within the game."
The first thing that separates "Def Jam Vendetta" from similar fighting titles is that the bouts take place not in a ring but in fictitious hip-hop venues like DMX's junkyard and Scarface's speakeasy. Players can issue beat downs using 1,500 moves including punches, kicks and choke holds as well as signature moves specific to each fighter. A hip-hop game, like the musical genre itself, wouldn't be complete without a healthy dose of hyperbolic taunting, so trash-talking displays are not only available, they're encouraged.
Each character has its own plotline in one-player mode, and four types of matches are possible, including tag-team competitions, mismatched handicap bouts and a free-for-all anarchic melee in which it's every man for himself.
Unlike previous music-related games like "Britney's Dance Beat," in which players compete, in not too thrilling fashion, to be one of the pop star's backup dancers, and "Wu-Tang Clan: Shaolin Style," a kung-fu game unique only in that it allows gamers to play as Ol' Dirty Bastard, "Def Jam Vendetta" promises not to sacrifice game play for the celebrity cachet.
"It's not just going to be a game about hip-hop," Schnur said. "It's a hip-hop game, which is probably going to be one of the best games that comes out next year, from the standpoint of the engine and the game itself.
"Game first, that's the key."