Watch me crank dat Robocop Super Fresh.
Karaoke: The ancient Japanese art of bastardizing someone's musical work of art, with atonal singing and half-hearted lyrics that you only know a quarter of, has long been the preferred form of entertainment for those most choicely drunk of all of us. But for just as long, those of us that prefer Gin and Juice over Margaritaville haven't had many options. Sure, you'd find the occasional “Bust a Move” or “Funky Cold Medina” in the list of available songs, but now with Def Jam Rapstar, there's a far more gangsta option than “Ice Ice Baby”, but not much else beyond the original Karaoke experience.
[image1]Rapstar does takes the best hip-hop artists from the last three decades and let you show your love for everyone from Public Enemy to P. Diddy. The track list consists of a great mix that's sure to please anybody who's a fan of rap music. And you've gotta love the full videos included with each song. There's just not much actual “game” beyond that.
You rap, you try to stay as on time as you can, and occasionally some songs will require you to sing a bit, but there's nothing more to it. It is karaoke with a rhythmic emphasis. It's enjoyable in the same way that a night on the town with your friends getting smashed in a tiny booth in Japantown is, just with rap songs and doing it in your living room.
The actual interface isn't very intuitive at all. You follow a bouncing ball trying to keep time with the lyrics on the screen and you sing just like you would in a Rock Band or Guitar Hero game. There's no real way, though, to determine the actual timing with the ball, and trying to follow it and read the next line can be tedious. If you happen to know the song and a decent amount of the words, you should be able to get through most tunes, but the system still needs a large amount of polish.
[image2]Freestyle mode gives promising MCs a chance to spit their own rhymes over drum loops while adding special effects, like reverb or delay, to your voice. While it is a unique idea that encourages people to be artistic, there's no real guidance and more people will be intimidated by it than actually use it. Still, it would be cool to go to a show and see a DJ onstage with a console and a flatscreen while a couple of dudes battled 8-Mile style.
If you've got a camera for your PS3 or 360, you can splice together 30-second videos and put them up on the community website. Honestly, I did not think much of the feature until I visited it in the game, at which point it became one of my favorites. Within minutes I'd found quick snippets of puppets getting down to Kanye West, MCs busting their freestyles, and hot chicks dancing in their underwear while their pale-skinned boyfriends pretended to be LL Cool J. By far, this is one of the best features in Def Jam Rapstar and should be touted as such.
While it may just seem like glorified Karaoke, there is more going on here than meets the eye and a sequel could be even more fun if they polish up the interface. This is a game that stays true to its audience and provides some intriguing features that have a lot more potential than one would expect. It just lacks any sort of depth. If you wanna get down with your posse in the comfort of your own home with some Old E and a phat ass J of that bubonic chronic, then Def Jam Rapstar is right up your alley.