Def Jam: Rapstar

Here's a review for all my homies who keep it gangsta,
I try to play Def Jam like I be da master.
But I ain’t got no style and no sense of rhyme,
And listening to me rap should be a Capital crime.

And if you think the above was cringe-worthy, you should listen to my rendition of Snoop Dogg’s "Gin & Juice". Being a casual player of karaoke titles like SingStar and occasionally grabbing the mic in RockBand (when all the other instruments have already been taken), I don’t rate myself highly as a vocalist. But despite my ability to warble out a good Soundgarden track after a few whiskeys, I quickly realised something while playing Def Jam: Rapstar. Rapping is definitely not for everyone. And it’s only after seeing the lyrics scroll past your face at around fourteen words per second that you appreciate just how much skill is required to throw down a rhyme like a mo fo’.

Ad FeedbackAdvertisement

But for anyone who’s ever fancied taking centre stage to drop it like it’s hot, Def Jam: Rapstar is sure to please. The 45 strong track-listing is busting at the seams with epic hip-hop beats dating from the 80’s through to today; including artists like Run DMC, Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G, Wu Tang Clan, 2Pac, Lil Jon, the Beastie Boys and plenty more. Two of my personal favourites, “Stand Up” by Ludacris and “Gold Digger” by Kanye West raised the roof at our flat several times. Def Jam wastes absolutely no time in throwing wanna-be rappers straight into the phat beats the minute the disc goes in.

Unlike most games in this genre, Def Jam: Rapstar doesn’t revolve around a career or campaign mode. It makes no overzealous claims as to what sort of game it is; a shiznit party game. So, appropriately, the first option on the menu is Party Mode - where you can opt to play solo or invite friends around for a duet or battle. Agreed, a ‘duet’ does sound a tad out of place in a rapping game, but it offers a friendly way for two or more players to rubber-lip before attempting the frantic emcee battle mode. Before any track you can select practice mode to let you become familiar with the lyrics, nicely accompanied by interesting trivia about the song and the artist. Annoyingly though, in order to ship the game with a more mainstream M rating, most of the bad language often heard in the genre has been extensively censored.

The gameplay is similar to any karaoke title, with a music video taking up most of the screen and lyrics popping up along the bottom. As a song progresses, a series of glowing dots appears above the words to indicate timing; for example three dots close together tell you to speed up over these words or syllables. Bouncing along these dots is a ball that lets you know where you’re at within that line of lyrics. Of course, getting your timing and flow is essential to rap and if you’re unfamiliar with the song - chances are you will struggle the first few times through. Because of the nature of the style, the ball is often unpredictable and will flutter around like Kanye’s apparent sanity level. Basically you need to know the song before playing, as trying to keep up with the on-screen text is near impossible. Some of the tracks have harmonies and actual singing involved too, in which case a standard pitch meter appears on-screen.

Def Jam does include a token Career mode but it offers very little difference in the gameplay. However it is the only way to unlock an additional five tracks - including the brilliant “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” by Busta Rhymes. Progressing through Career mode with decent scores also introduces special challenges that are guaranteed to test even the most talented doctorates of rhyme.

The third mode is FreeStyle and this allows lyrical geniuses to lay down their own vocals to a variety of instrumental backing tracks from industry veterans like DJ Khalil and Just Blaze. Those with a camera (whether EyeToy or Kinect) can also upload their performances to an online community. Def Jam includes a basic video editor so you can chop up your clip and add in ultra cheesy props like chains and bling.

On top of the 45 tracks on the disc, gamers also have access to additional tracks via the online store from the likes of the Black Eyed Peas, Flo Rider and Shawty Lo. Finally Def Jam: Rapstar seems to work with nearly all recent console microphones including RockBand, Guitar Hero and Lips. So if you’re a closet rapper or just enjoy annoying the crap out of your neighbours - go grab a copy today, slap in your chrome grill and show ‘em you’re dope. Or something.

"Rappers have feelings."
- Def Jam Rapstar
Follow Own it? Rating: M   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 15 Min


Relevant Articles


Comments Comments (1)

Posted by Sam
On Friday 3 Dec 2010 5:42 PM
This comment has been down-voted by the community.