Def Jam: Icon Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Let’s face it, EA are hardly the most creative bunch, which is exactly why Def Jam: Icon comes as such a surprise. What we have here is one of the most refreshing fighting games in years, courtesy of the brilliant Fight Night team: EA Chicago.

Notice that there wasn’t a mention of wrestling in the above paragraph? Well for this instalment EA, feeling that wrestling and rap are not the greatest of concoctions, have largely done away with the wrestling part and made more of a regular fighter.

There’s nothing OTT here this time either and as a result, Icon is a much more gritty offering. The pace of skirmishes has been dramatically slowed down and is a far cry from the superhuman arcadey speed of previous games, whilst the deliciously OTT Blazin’ moves are nowhere to be seen.

Characters only possess a handful of striking moves, the most powerful of which are executed via the right stick (similarly to EA Chicago’s very own Fight Night series). Grapples are also an option, but perhaps the most useful move is the throw, which allows you to toss your opponent into the many environmental hazards placed around the pleasing arenas.

Which brings us comfortably to the aforementioned refreshing aspect of the game. In an attempt to perhaps, make better use and sense of the Def Jam license, music too plays a vital role in the gameplay. There are two musical attacks to make use of, one of which allows you to alter the music track, to gain a power boost. The other is far more satisfying, allowing you to trigger the many environmental hazards at will, which if timed correctly results in masses of damage to your opponent. It’s huge amounts of hilarious fun, but as it’s so damn powerful, it will be your primary strategy in each fight, which doesn’t exactly leave much room for a diverse battle, Tekken this is not.

Moving on, the games main mode: Build a Label is a somewhat unique premise in itself and again makes sensible use of the license. Here, you’ll create your own character (from EA’s usual impressive range of options) and after being victorious in a bar fight, you’ll gain the interest of a producer, who quickly employs you to look after his artists. This of course, largely involves fighting, but the artists are also a rather demanding bunch, occasionally asking you to buy them things, it is up to you if you do so, but it’s worth bearing in mind that each of your artists have a happiness level. Later on in the mode, you’ll also be paying out money on marketing and whatnot for your artists records, which isn’t hugely challenging, but does offer you a welcome respite from the constant skirmishes.

Being from the Fight Night team, it’s hardly a surprise that Def Jam: Icon is a real looker of a game. Characters look real, the explosions are jaw dropping, and everything just looks so lovely that quite frankly we could kiss our screen. This is the game displayed on a archaic standard definition TV we‘re talking about here too, so goodness knows how good it can look in high definition.

Def Jam: Icon doesn’t play as well as it looks and the turtle slow pace can be frustrating , but there’s no doubting the fact that the game is loads of fun, but it’s also a bit of a one trick pony, which simply doesn’t offer the long term appeal of a more serious fighting game.