Def Jam: Fight for NY is perhaps the best game I ever played in my childhood. The idea of fighting with these larger than life caricatures of popular rappers at the time came with a uniqueness you couldn’t find anywhere else. Weirdly enough, my parents got me into hip-hop/rap music when they didn’t even listen to it that much. I took it into my own hands, after this game, to make my parents take me to our local Hastings to find more artists, more albums, and more music to get my grubby little hands on. On top of this, I loved wrestling. I watched it religiously with my dad every Monday and Friday. So the combination of the two coolest things in the world was unthinkable to me. I played this game on my Xbox at least twice a month until the 2007 sequel Def Jam: Icon came out on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. I played and beat Def Jam: Icon, and immediately went back to its predecessor. I believe the sheer disappointment I had in this game made Def Jam: Fight for NY even more special.
With over 70 fighters, 20 fighting venues, 12 match types, and 32 tracks to listen to, Def Jam: Fight for NY brought a bite that most EA Big games brought to the table. The story revolves around you, a lowly street thug, who makes his way up the street fighting ranks under D-Mob (voiced by Kratos himself, Christopher Judge!), an illegal fight promoter whose fighters are seen as the heroes in this story. You fight greats like Ice-T, Busta Rhymes, Ghostface Killah, and Fat Joe who work for Crow (Snoop Dogg!!!). The story contains elements of love, betrayal, triumph, and revenge; which culminates in one the most intriguing fighting game stories to date.
The amount of customization is dumbfounding for a game released in 2004. The very start of the story has a police officer tell his colleague how your character looks for a facial composite drawing, all while allowing you to pick the size and shape of your fighter’s face and body, your facial features and hair style, as well as the sound of your voice. After this you’re taken by D-Mob to Henry Rollins’s gym to train, which is where you pick your fighting style (there are five). Rollins’s gym is where you’ll spend experience points to add new fighting styles you your repertoire, level up skills, and learn Blazin’ moves. Blazin’ moves are finishing moves you earn in-game after a series of successful attacks. These moves were outlandish and over exaggerated (and looked like any one of them would literally kill someone). When earning money, you could go to a clothing outlet and dress yourself in name brand clothing like Jordan, Phat Farm, Reebok, and Sean John. Then you could see Jacob “The Jeweler” (a real jeweler I might add), and add expensive and flashy variations of different bling to show just how much money you’ve made beating people up. Alongside clothes and jewelry, you could head to the barber and the tattoo parlor for extra personal customization. The coolest thing about about the customization is the fact that it all factored into how you played the game. The more expensive your clothes, jewelry, and tattoos were, the quicker your momentum meter would fill up to perform Blazin’ moves.
With the echoing of LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” and Ice-T’s “O.G. Original Gangster” still ringing in my ears, I remember every detail of this game. It represented a time in EA’s history where they weren’t seen as the money hungry company they are seen as now. This feeling continued in games like Fight Night, NFL/NBA/FIFA Street, and the SSX series.
AKI Corporation, the developer of Def Jam: Fight for NY, now known as syn Sophia, no longer develops games under EA. Along with this, with EA’s in house failure of Def Jam: Icon, it seems unlikely a true sequel will ever be released. Though in August of last year, Def Jam’s Twitter account hinted at a new game. With that said, I don’t believe they could use artists from this generation as rap music has changed drastically, and doesn’t exude the same energy as before. With respect to artists now, I would rather a sequel have the same tone as the two original games.
Good luck finding a working copy of this game for less than $80, apparently it’s an extremely rare game to find.
Have you played any of the Def Jam games? Would you want a sequel? Let’s discuss!