I recently stumbled upon a piece by Baltimore-based writer Action Bastard about one of the greatest games of all-time (to me, anyway). I wish I was saying that hyperbolically because the term “GOAT” gets thrown out like candy to the point it doesn’t mean shit anymore. But, AB wrote about the 2004 game Def Jam: Fight for New York and it made me get all misty-eyed and reminiscent of the game in which you could throw Snoop Dogg in front of a moving train.
Sorry for rambling in advance.
See, the game was great because it was ridiculous but still grounded in reality. It was racially-charged and drenched in Black culture without appropriating it just for sales (even with the ridiculousness that went on in the game). It had great graphics and came out around the same time as San Andreas. Growing up in Baltimore, I would die and be reborn every time there was a POC in a game. But, for real? We had slim pickings. You had Barrett Wallace, who was badass in FFVII, but talked in incomprehensible jive. But, with FFNY and San Andreas, you had Black characters written for and by Black people. You had two games that were deep into Black culture and they resonate with me because they felt real.
Enough backstory. You came here to see me talk why FFNY was one of the greatest games I’ve ever played outside of its racial and cultural connotations. Well, the game was stupid fun, in the way that Doom (2016) was or how most popcorn movies are. But, underneath that stupid fun, there was an engine that allowed you to combine fighting styles in a way that hasn’t been duplicated as far as I can see. Additionally, the story was engrossing and realistic–to a sense. While FFNY’s 2007 sequel, Def Jam Icon, was on some other shit (see: rap music literally destroying properties and its cheesier-than-day-old-nacho-cheese storyline), FFNY hit on all cylinders. Plus, as AB mentioned, you had folks like Henry FUCKING Rollins involved in the story. You don’t get much more legit than that, folks.
This piece is, again, probably a bit of a ramble. Blame that on the fact that I don’t have a computer in front of me to fine-tune it. But, the point still stands. If you’ve never played FFNY, dust off your PS2 and do so–now! You’ll be amazed at how much the game still holds up in 2017. Now, if only EA hears the pleas of fans everywhere to make a new edition. Because, for fuck’s sake, making CAWs in WWE 2K is not the same–at all.
Speed on the Beat
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