Def Jam Icon: Playing a different kind of fighter with Big Boi and Kudo

“You see that move right there,” says Big Boi from Outkast. “That’s a patented Atlanta fight style.”

“Oh yeah,” I say, “That whole fake out thing?”

“Yeah,” says Big Boi. “It’s a classic.”

What are we talking about? We’re talking about Def Jam Icon, the next evolution in the Def Jam fighting series that actually does what next-gen games are supposed to do: Evolve.

“See my character, the way he walks,” Big Boy says with a huge grin. “He’s got my swagger and everything.”

Swagger. Yes, this game’s got all kinds of swagger. On Monday, I got to see just how much substance was behind a game that is all about style and swagger. If you haven’t heard about Icon, it’s about time you did.

“The fighting genre is stale,” says the sunglass-wearing gaming icon Kudo Tsunoda. “We want to change that all up. We had some goals for making that happen: One, this is about true hip-hop lifestyle; Two, we’re changing things by making the environment always timed to the beat of the music and making it a real breathing part of the experience.”

Bangin’ beats
Kudo is right, music is a huge part of this game. The driving beats act as either your friend or enemy as you do your brawling. In fact, certain songs will become more effective for your character over others. For instance, if you’re playing as T.I., then one of his songs will naturally help you more than a song by another artist.

The best part about the music within the game, though, is that you can make everything your own like you’ve never been able to before. While other games will allow you to play your own tracks over the game, Icon lets your sounds actually drive the gameplay — no matter what the song, as we tested it out with Eddie Murphy’s classic “Party all the time.”

“There’s just endless amounts of replayability here,” says Kudo.

Once in the game, players will be able to build their own hip-hop empire — signing artists, dealing with the competition, etc. And, as usual, you not only can fully customize the music, but also your character.

Will there be the famous Electronic Arts microtransactions along the way? Kudo says yes. We can only hope that they treat it fairly.

Fight Night origins
Much like Fight Night’s HUD-less gameplay, your characters within Icon will behave in the same manner. Getting beaten to a pulp? Well your character’s face will not only show the damage done, but his body and speed will also be altered.

Other similarities to Fight Night include using the analog stick for a majority of your moves — whether they be punches, kicks, special moves or grabs.

The game I got to test out against Big Boi was a little far from finished, but looked just as polished as other triple-A titles look at this stage. Due in March 2007 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, if you’re a fight fan looking for something other than a pair of jiggly breasts, then Icon needs to be on you radar.

Hell, the music and feeling the game gives you while playing is reason enough to own it.

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Robert Summa
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