Me and Judd had been waiting for this game to drop for a while now. I first heard about the game when
I saw a preview in Vibe, which focused on how brilliant Def Jam Records was to bring rap and wrestling
together. What really got me interested is that AKI was the company doing the wrestling engine. AKI
is the company that did WWF No Mercy for the Nintendo 64, which is one of the best wrestling games ever.
Whatever. All I have to say is that whoever thought of this idea is a fucking genius.
Let’s start with the story line. It follows your basic “your friend is about to take a dirt nap due to
his debts and you have enter an underground wrestling tournament to save his life” story. In an attempt
to complicate the whole fucking thing further, your ex-girlfriend is now the mob boss D-Mob’s ho. So,
basically you fight your way to the top and get your girl back. But on the way you get to fight Method Man,
Redman, Ludacris, and others. The others kind of suck hard. I mean, if you’ve always wanted to wrestle as
NORE or Ghostface Killah, this is right up your alley, but personally I’d rather play as some junko jobber
Spider than those guys.
The extremely nice thing about Vendetta is that it uses the exact same control system as Wrestlemania 2000.
So if you’ve played that game you don’t need to learn any new buttons or anything. Even down to using the
analog stick to do your finisher it’s the same. I was able to pick up the game and immediately start rocking
some jobber’s face off.
But what we really want to know is: how’s the wrestling? Fucking awesome. Graphics are tight, but what
really makes the game rule are two features. The first is the fluidity of the counter system. In games
like Wrestlemania 2000 for N64 it always felt like a miracle if you hit a counter to a grapple. But in
Vendetta you can almost feel the way the wrestlers are trying to reverse the moves. In one sequence I was
able to reverse, re-reverse, and then re-re-reverse a grapple on a guy. It just makes it feel like you
truly do have control over your wrestler. The second thing that sets the game apart is the ability to work
specific body parts with submission moves. Each time you slap on a submission, it displays the health bar
for that body part, and when that health bar is empty the wrestler submits. It is awesome because you always
have an idea of how much more damage you’ll have to deal before you get the submission, which in turn is nice
because sometimes no matter how much you pound on some of the other wrestlers, you can’t get the pin on them.
In these cases it’s better to just go for the submission. I had to do this to get the pin on Scarface,
because he’s a bitch who kicked out of my finisher.
The finishers: I’ve seen some really tight ones and some really dumb ones, but overall they’re over-the-top
and awesome. My story character’s finisher starts out like a Rock Bottom, then he jumps up and swings around
their head a few times, and finally drops them down on their head like a DDT. It looks pretty cool, but the
bad thing about it, like all the finishers, is that it zooms in so close and does so many cuts to other angles
that you can’t really see what is going on. I wish they would replay it from a further zoomed out angle so
you can see the whole thing happen at once. You do get to see it happen in tag team mode because the camera
stays zoomed out the whole time.
There are some bad things I’ve noticed. All of the other reviews I’ve seen have noted that there is no
Create-A-Wrestler mode, which I do miss. I was all ready to create a Bellman Rapper wrestler, but that’s
not too bad. The other major thing is that the button to switch the focus in a tag team match to another
opponent is the Z button on the Gamecube, which is the most fucked up button ever created on a controller.
There’s some other cool stuff in the game too. Along your path of making major rap stars submit to moves like
“Kick to the Junk”, you acquire quite a few female admirers. Once you choose your girlfriend, later on another
girl will start flirting and then IT’S ON between the two chicks. You get to choose whom you control, and what
happens next depends on the outcome and who you chose to fight as. The soundtrack is also pretty awesome.
There are new tracks on there (“Nothin” by N.O.R.E.) mixed with some old classics (“Fight the Power” by Public
Enemy). My only beef with the soundtrack is that I wish there were less jobbers (Joe Budden, Comp, and C-N-N),
less DMX, more Redman, and for the love of god put al least one Ludacris track on there.
Overall, if you liked Wrestlemania 2000 and you have at least a passing interest in hip-hop, you should check
out Def Jam Vendetta. If nothing else, make sure you have 4 controllers and play it while getting drunk before
you go out at night.