April 2003

Many times does life take a turn for the worse. The King’s reign
ends, and yet the King knows it not. Frailty in one’s heart turns
to bitterness. What a wicked web we weave indeed. So the story of
Sam Fisher, former NSA Agent, now a blue collar man making his way
through this dog eat dog world of ours.

I have learnt through my sources as Snackbar Investigative Reporter
that our hero has fallen indeed. He was a super spy and now he is
but a super exterminator. Sam Fisher is now the CEO and President,
and sole employee, of Sam’s Super Extermination. A local “Critter
Killer” if you will. It seems as though he has lost all will
to save the world from terrorism, but only save the backyards of
trailer parks from vermin.

Here is the transcript of my exclusive interview with Sam Fisher.

Pic: Sam, Sam? May I have a word with you?

Sam: Who the hell are you?

Pic: My name is Pickle; I’ve spoken with some people and
located you…you are a hard man to find…especially in the

Sam: So I have been told.

Pic: Sam answer me this…why are you doing this…why
are you…a vermin exterminator?

Sam: So the cat’s out the bag huh?

Pic: Yes Sam it is…explain how did this happen?

Sam: Well as you know I like to work at night. I have a
family to support you know, and the damned NSA was always risking
my ass to piece together information about this and that. I mean
what kind of job security is it when they send you into a base full
of enemies, or hell the CIA Headquarters!

Pic: I can understand your pain Sam really, I feel for you.

Sam: Shaddup.

Pic: Yes sir…but what exactly do you do?

Sam: Well I get the call, for instance at the moment I have
a 312.

Pic: 312?

Sam: Yeah, a raccoon infestation, over behind the trailer.

Pic: I see…so what are you going to do.

Sam: Well I am going to sneak up on the little bastards
then knock them out…that seems to work most of the time.

Pic: That’s dammed brilliant. One question…can’t raccoons
see in the dark?


Sam: Then I fill them full of lead. I got this here silencer.

Pic: Can’t argue with that, well good luck Sam. I wish the
best for you and your new business.

Sam: Thanks, tell yer friends about it. That’s Sam’s Super
Extermination; look us up in the phone book!

Pic: You heard it here folks, the man is happy he is doing
what it is he does best. I for one wish him the best of luck.

How the mighty have fallen. So it seems some people are satisfied
killing critters as opposed to terrorists. Well this is one reporter

that won’t give up on the War on Terrorism so easily. I say suit
me up Johnny; let’s do this for the Red, White, and Blue.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/defjam/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Long have I awaited the return of the AKI wrestling engine. Ever since THQ ran off with the WWE license every wrestling game that they tried to put out has sucked. I figured that since WWE wasn’t dishing out any new licenses, and the thought of THQ and AKI joining up to do another game seemed pretty far fetched that video game wrestling’s glory days had come and gone. License? We don’t need no stinkin’ license. AKI’s engine is just to damn good to let die, and thank god that EA had the sense to realize this. EA Sports Big, which is known for it’s over-the-top presentation style, and AKI teamed up for the development on Def Jam Vendetta. Fans of the NWO vs. WCW series have been anxiously awaiting the release of Def Jam Vendetta, but with that comes some pretty high expectations. Will the engine port well to next-gen consoles? Will the substitution of rappers for wrestlers be a success? Why on earth didn’t they make this for the Xbox? Hopefully I’ll be able to get to all this questions and more in this review.

First of all I would like to discuss the graphics. Here is where the difficulty lies in reviewing this game. Do I base my opinion of the graphics on what they are like compared to the N64 games with this engine, or do I judge it compared to other PS2 games? Something that always bothered me was the polygonal appearance and the EXTREME amount of clipping that took place on the character models in the N64 games. Def Jam Vendetta actually did a pretty nice job on the character models. The characters look pretty smooth without looking strange like the models in THQ’s Smackdown do. Of course, EA Sports Big did make the characters look gigantic and flashy, which they are known to do. For some reason though they made all the character’s hands enormous; if you pay attention to the hands for a few minutes while playing you’ll start to notice how funny they look. The movements of the characters are very natural and smooth looking. Overall clipping of the fighters wasn’t a problem, but there was a couple of times when I caught someone’s foot going through someone else; it hardly enough to be noticeable though. The worst part of the character models is that the lip-sync is terrible. None of the character’s lip movements ever look like they are saying what they are supposed to be saying, it’s pretty bad. Another part of the N64 games that was just god-awful was the crowds and backgrounds. Def Jam Vendetta’s developers did a really great job on the backgrounds in the game. One level in particular that I remember well had a couple of girls dancing in the background and every time they caught your eye’s attention their movements were really fluid and created a cool environment for battle’s to be raged in. All in all I feel good about the graphics in Def Jam Vendetta. I think the developers did a good job, there are some areas that I would like to see improved, but hey, this is the PS2 I’m talking about.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/defjam/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright]Since this game bore the name of a Rap label, I figured beforehand that sound would be its strong point. Instead it turned out to be the most irritating, skull cracking part of Def Jam Vendetta. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I don’t like Rap music or the tracks they selected for the soundtrack. Imagine with me if you will a 15 second loop of “DMX – X Gonna Gonna Give It to Ya” over and over and over and over. It’s not even a good loop either; you can hear where they looped it. That’s basically what you have to deal with every single time you fight a match. After a few hours you want to beat your head up against the screen or mute the game. The sound effects aren’t bad; they are almost exactly the same as the N64 games. This game is better played on mute than anything else.

The controls in Def Jam Vendetta are exactly what you will remember from the N64 series. Anyone who spent a significant amount of time playing any of those games will have the controls mastered seconds after picking up Def Jam Vendetta. Surprisingly enough the PS2 control actually is pretty easy to use. I was a little bit leery about how the shift from the N64 controller to the PS2 controller would be, but all the buttons are where you would expect them to be. What I never realized is how hard the controls would be to master for someone who had never played any of the N64 games. I had a friend over for a few hours and it was really difficult to explain to him the strike, grapple, and move progression. For him it turned into a button mashing fest, so much so that his thumb got so sore he had to quit playing. It was frustrating for me to watch because I’ve played this type of game for so long that I know exactly what to do and when and he had no clue. After awhile he was able to master some aspects of the controls, but there is so much you can do with every single move and reversals that it would take a long time for him to totally get the hang of it. For you AKI engine veterans you’ll find the controls very responsive and you feel like you’re in complete control of you character.

It’s tough to decide how to rate how challenging this game is. Def Jam Vendetta is designed to be a one-player game and the game’s main feature is the story mode. I played through most of it in one night, and it does a pretty decent job of progressive difficulty, as you get further into the story. Having played past AKI games as much as I have makes this game extremely easy to me. I played it with the difficulty set at medium and I was tearing through the matches like butter. My friend who had never played before could barely beat anyone. I would say that the most challenging part for any newcomer would just be mastering the controls. Once you have that down you can pretty much sail through this game. Def Jam Vendetta also has a “Survival” game mode, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The only problem is that I think I’m too good at this game and it just gets boring. I beat about 6 guys in 15 minutes and got bored and turned it off. I’m defiantly going to have to jack the difficulty up a bit. Personally my favorite part of the games using this series was the multiplayer, so I can’t get myself too worked up about the difficulty of this game.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/defjam/ss05_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]When thinking about the fun factor and replay ability of Def Jam Vendetta it’s impossible to separate my feelings for the N64 games. There are so many things that I wish they would have included that were some of my favorite parts of the old games. My favorite feature was always the Royal Rumble. We used to have 10-15 people crammed in Pickle’s tiny room all fighting over who gets to be the next character that runs in. The multiplayer was so much fun, I don’t understand why they would stray from that and make it primarily a single player game. There are some multiplayer aspects in the game, but that is pretty difficult to deal with. The camera angle is a little bit low and when you get involved in a tag-team match or any type of match with four people you spend a lot of time complaining about not being able to see anything that’s going on. The other thing that’s frustrating is that the story is very linear. In No Mercy the story would branch out a lot and you’d have people running smack and run-ins. It was great. But no matter what character you play with in Vendetta you always progress from match a to b to c, with the same cinematics every time. Speaking of character selection, this games big draw is that you can be these cool ass rappers. Strangely enough you can’t use any of them in the story mode though. Most of the guys you would want to play as don’t even start as being unlocked. All I wanted was to be Redman; I spent 3 hours trying to unlock him only to find out that I couldn’t use him in story mode. And why no create-a-fighter?

The previous paragraph is mainly for people who have played AKI wrestling games before. For those of you who never have, the AKI wrestling engine is like Mecca. All other wrestling games are nothing compared to the greatness that this engine is. If you are just getting started playing you are soon going to find yourself spending hours trying to memorize and master ever single move with every single wrestler, and than you’re going to want to get yourself a tag-team partner and master all the tag-teams moves. Pickle and I are a dominant tag-team; we used to do some of the coolest things in Revenge. If you are a fan of wrestling or fighting games at all you need to check this game out.

Although I have some complaints, it is so good to see the AKI engine back in action. Maybe I’ll have to wait for Ultimate Muscle: Legends Vs. New Generation to get some of the features back that I used to enjoy so much, but Def Jam Vendetta is defiantly something that can hold me over for now. If you have played the N64 games before than I would probably recommend renting this game prior to buying. It’s defiantly worth playing, but odds are you are going to be too good at it if you are a veteran to get the replay ability out of it you are looking for. I actually purchased Def Jam Vendetta instead of renting because I want to support AKI and I hope their engine never goes away.

-Soda Out

When people come up to me and ask me which game I like better,
FIFA 2003 or Winning 11, I usually tell them I have both and that
they are both good. But if you were to come up and ask me ” Hey
Jon, which game do you play more? “, I’d basically give them the
answer they were asking for in the first question.

World Soccer Winning Eleven 6 (WW6) and FIFA 2003 are similar and
different in many ways. Graphically WW6 has a bit of an edge in
the race, but just slightly. The character features and physics
tend to look a bit more fluid than FIFA as well as when the up close
shots, FIFA still needs to work on the “zombie like features of
some of the players faces. However they have made vast improvements
since FIFA 2002 & World Cup and seem to be moving closer to their
goal. The player’s looks are a bit dated however, maybe due to the
fact this is the 1st time WW6 has made it to the states, it seems
more like a 2002 version more than a current.

When it comes to sound, FIFA absolutely dominates in the competition.
If you truly want to enjoy playing a football game (Soccer), then
you need to turn the commentators off (only have them on when you
and a buddy are playing or with a group of friends). You can truly
enjoy haring the banter between players and the crowd, and the crunch
of a good tackle. WW6 truly drops the ball in this department. Football
(Soccer) is a living, breathing, experience brought to life with
atmosphere. The crowd chanting, booing …singing songs. The rush
of blood that fills you with excitement when a goal is scored or
a penalty saved. The crowd is a living thing, and in winning 11
it’s stagnant. However in FIFA, team songs as well as player songs
add to a game and let you know who’s ” house ” you are playing in.
when you are losing 2-0, nothing hurts worse than a smile on your
friends face and the crowd singing.. ” two nil, Two nil, Two Nil!!!!
” and the players on the field screaming at each other. FIFA puts
you in th
e stadium, and engulfs you in the sounds of the world’s

Knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different things.
Control in a game can either make or break a title and if a person
gets frustrated and fed up with playing then what’s the point of
even playing. FIFA’s controls over the years haven’t changed to
drastically. They have improved with each passing year. In fact
the only complaint one might have with the game, is they left out
the “give and go “control that was so very useful in the game. Give
and go’s if used properly can be devastating, and one who mastered
its technique would control the tempo of a game. Give and Go’s are
like a “Fast Break “in the NBA or a QB faking a hand-off and going
for a long bomb down field. When FIFA added this into the 2002 game,
it was a huge leap forward. And I feel that if they would have kept
it into the 2003 game with the additions they made, the controls
would have been perfect, maybe in 2004? WW6 control is a whole other
story. The full range of control you have with WW6 is amazing. Almost
each button has 4-6 different functions on both defense and offense.
While at first one becomes amazed by this, once the novelty wears
off, you realize that in the game you might have to result to button
mashing and crossing your fingers to even get control in a game,
never mind score.

The main thing I always her people complain about in FIFA is either
“it’s too hard to score,” or, “it’s too easy to score”. I’m going
to shed some light on some people that may have a hard time understanding
what to do when the little game is getting too hard for them or
too easy. See there is this “weird” little menu selection in a game
called OPTIONS, and in the magical menu there is a way you can (now
see if you can stay with me on this one) A-D-J-U-S-T the Difficultly
level on the game. It’s a pretty weird concept, but if the game
is too easy and you find yourself scoring 10-12 goals with your
injured water boy I’d say it’s about time you bumped up to the normal
or even try putting all the rules on and making sure the ref’s strictness
is a little higher than having it set where he’s blind to everything
on the field. Additionally, if you can’t even score a goal with
11 of your men vs. 9 of theirs and the goalkeeper signing autographs
in the stands… I’d say you need to slap those training wheels
back on and try a little more practice at amateur level, there’s
no shame, you just aren’t Pele.

Now what you need to ask yourself when you are trying to decide
between these games is a real easy question. Why are you playing
a soccer game? to play with you favorite team, or to pick up and
play with a buddy something easy and simple. Do you want to pick
a team and start a franchise or run simulations? FIFA has a major
advantage over WW6, license! Even though many of the players on

all the teams in WW6 are named correctly and are in the right positions
and have the right squad numbers. None of the FIFA licensing is
there, so Manchester United, Real Madrid, Arsenal, A.C. Milan, Juventas,
and Ajax are all called other teams. Many players have to be renamed,
and even though WW6 is fully editable, who wants to spend 6 hrs
fixing the game so all the team names are right and the squads are
up to date? WW6 also seems to only have a little less than 20 “professional”
teams and the rest are all world cup squads. When you want to play
a Basketball game.. Don’t you want to play with your favorite team,
and have them called what they are and have them spell the players
right? How much fun would it be to play a NBA game with the San
Antonio Sparkles? How about the latest version of Madden with the
world champion Green Bay Cheese heads??? Yes you know they are the
Packers and Spurs.. But wouldn’t it irk you if they weren’t called
that? I have been a Manchester United supporter my whole life; my
grandfather supported the club since 1910, and my Uncle since 1944.
Now I’ve read some reviews in “other” sites with tag lines like
“Soccer players play Fifa and Football players play WW6”, and it
makes me laugh. WW6 may be the top seller over FIFA in Europe, but
does that mean it is the better game? Maybe, but don’t judge either
game on sales. Ask yourself why you are getting a football (soccer)
game. What do you want out of any sports game? License can play
a major part in one’s decision. I personally like my teams named
right and to be immersed in a sports game as much as possible. Game
play is a major factor, but sports games are different. Why do we
play them? We want to be on the team we follow. We want to pound
our rivals and win the league. We want the fantasy mixed with the