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Def Jam Icon XBox 360 Review - -

Gameplay 8.1
Graphics 8.5
Sound 8.9
Value 8.0
Distributor: EA
Review Date:
April 2007
Edwin Millheim


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Def Jam: Icon

Although the number of fighters on the XBox 360 is rather limited, through the years there have virtually hundreds of fighting games on various consoles. These games generally involve beating the absolute living daylights out of someone and Def Jam Icon is no exception to the rule. However the creators of the acclaimed EA SPORTS Fight Night Series have released something uniquely different that merges the world of hip hop with fighting in a game never seen before. No longer are players involved in button mashing and gamers must now use the beat of the music to successfully win their battles. Sound strange? Read on....


  • Musically Charged Combat—Beats trigger interactive hazards around you as your environment comes alive and reacts to the music. From exploding gas pumps to spinning helicopter propellers, taking advantage of your surroundings is just as important as your toe-to-toe fighting skills. Become one with the beats to rule the streets.
  • DJ Controls—Use the analog sticks like turntables to add beats, switch songs, and make music your weapon. Throw down blistering attacks and brutal combos with the next-gestural street fighting system.
  • Fight to Your Own Beat—Battle to your own music or against the music of a friend. Upload any song to create an endless soundtrack that animates the environment and drives the core fighting mechanics. Prove once and for all who’s music’s king in the first authentic video rap battle.
  • Become a Hip Hop Icon—From the writers of 24 and Training Day, build an empire and live the life of a music mogul by signing artists, managing their careers, and releasing their hit songs. Do whatever it takes to become an ICON in the world of hip hop. But beware—you never know who is watching you.
  • Hip Hop’s Best—Fight with or against the biggest stars in hip hop. Artists like Ludacris, T.I., Paul Wall, The Game, Big Boi, and more are all instrumental in your building a record label and becoming a hip hop ICON.

Unlike other fighting games, Def Jam Icon combines the genre of rhythmic-music with fighting in order for your player to become the king of the music industry through the use of fighting and music. Although EA have had quite a bit of success with the previous versions, EA pumps some new adrenaline through the veins of the Def Jam franchise with ICON. While the preceding titles relied on a heavy dose of wrestling as the backbone of the fighting action, ICON cracks that backbone with a totally different combat at its core, focusing on a more slow-paced street-brawling fighting style.

Taking its cue from a long line of successful rhythmic-music games, from PaRappa the Rapper to Dance, Dance Revolution to Guitar Hero, Def Jam ICON uses the hip-hop music as a source of power in the game. This well-implemented facet of the Def Jam combat system serves to revitalize the franchise with a fresh approach to fighting games instead of simply being a button-mashing brawler. The music also brings the battle arena to life with interactive hazards unique to each respective battle arena.

However, with this decidedly different combat design comes a much more complex control schematic. Instead of the usual punch, grab and kick controls of the standard fighting game, Def Jam ICON has DJ Controls, where you’ll kick it old-school, using the analog sticks to take control of the music by scratching and mixing the music to your advantage.

Once you knock your opponent to the ground, you’ll actually be able to generate and unleash searing musical attacks by adding beats to the tunes playing, causing environmental interactions that inflict damage to your opponent. You can even gain some momentum in the heat of the fight by changing the song choice. This certainly is a very creative new direction for the Def Jam franchise that definitely pumps new blood into the franchise’s fighting. These controls can be dauntingly complex to learn at first, but after a while you’ll be the master music mixer.

Graphically, Def Jam Icon is extremely reminiscent of the characters from the Fight Night series that looks quite stunning on the XBox 360, the only drawback are the background environments that are a little static and rough. The characters are extremely well animated with realistic textures that move with grace and speed. Match that with an awesome soundtrack and you have one good looking and good sounding game... then again, have you ever seen a bad EA game?

In conclusion, Def Jam Icon really freshens the stale fighting genre with innovative gameplay, an awesome hip-hop soundtrack and the ability to play online and you have one well made game. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but it's definitely worth a look.


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