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Def Jam Rapstar Gamescom 2010 Preview (Update)

Please note: This is an update from our hands-on preview of the game at Gamescom 2009.

Developed by Terminal Reality and 4mm Games, Def Jam Rapstar sets out to fill a lucrative gap in the market left by the disappointing 2004 PS2 title Get On Da Mic, which showed how quality rap content does not necessarily make up for poorly integrated gameplay mechanics. Def Jam Rapstar is dedicated solely to hip-hop and is focused on giving you, the rapper, a compressive and authentic rapping experience.

Def Jam Rapstar

The basic gameplay of Def Jam Rapstar simply involves rapping along to a track to the best of your ability as you would in Singstar, but this is where the similarities end. Using phoneme technology, Def Jam Rapstar makes humming or whistling to the music an ineffective effort. Instead you need to show a prowess in matching the actual words with the right pitch and timing, gradually trying to build up points and the score multiplier as continuous syllables, beats and notes are matched. The music video plays in the background and accompanying lyrics are displayed, along with an indication of what beat and pitch is needed next. A final score is calculated at the end with a rating also given out. Feedback is also given on how well the lyrics were matched.

Def Jam Rapstar

There will be three game modes: party, career and freestyle. Party is a simple pick up and play mode, with further play options for solo, duet and battle. In my play-test last year I rapped against James Waller, Project Coordinator of Def Jam Enterprises, using Kanye West's classic track "Gold Digger". In this battle we were up against each other to score the highest points total, singing the chorus simultaneously but the other verses separately. Even though I have nothing to compare the experience to, I enjoyably got into the role of rapping as it didn't involve any embarrassing high pitch squealing like in Singstar. The scoring system worked well, with my rough newbie effort beaten 10-to-1 by the excellent rapping James demonstrated. I now yearn for a few more attempts to better understand the words and improve my score, perhaps providing some actual competition.

Def Jam Rapstar 

Career mode is about progression and achievements. The player will start as a street rapper but the aim is to reach the top of the city. Each song is represented by five ‘mics'. Accumulate enough of these mics and the player will be able to progress to the next level. Def Jam Rapstar will ship with 45 tracks, 10 of which are unique to each country. A current list of tracks announced for Def Jam Rapstar can be found at the end of this preview.

Def Jam Rapstar 

Enjoyment in Def Jam Rapstar needn't stop when the music does; 4mm Games are setting out to inspire an online community here. Xbox Live Vision and PlayStation Eye cameras can record the whole process of you smugly rapping, after which you can add various video effects such as crowds and lighting. 30 seconds of this music video can then be uploaded to the hard-drive and/or the Def Jam Rapstar community website with minimal effort - just a little patience depending on your internet connection.

Def Jam Rapstar 

Music videos uploaded to the community site can then be viewed, rated and even played off against one another, with users voting to decide which is best. The developer is even catering for the more camera shy user - support positions such as manager and promoter will be available, so instead of working alone a rapper can find fame as part of collective team. Videos can be shared with other social networking sites and ultimately the more views a video gets the more points the player will earn. These points can be used to promote their video further on the Def Jam website, including the front page. This creates the potential to launch aspiring and talented rappers into the limelight of the community and perhaps beyond, meaning that the game doesn't stop when the console is switched off.

Def Jam Rapstar 

All this and I am yet to mention the Freestyle mode. These special music tracks are mixed by top hip-hop producers, to which you can rap along with your own lyrics. Unlike the other licensed tracks, the full music video can be uploaded. While no score is given in-game, user feedback will prove to be a vital tool. A flourish of DLC after release will continue to build-up Def Jam Rapstar, adding new music tracks and video objects. It should also be noted that previously owned microphone peripherals should work with the game, so a single retail copy of the game may be all that is needed, though other packages will be on offer if starting from scratch.

Def Jam Rapstar 

I remain impressed with Def Jam Rapstar. Since first playing the game last year I have tried Singstar with friends and was disappointed to find minimal hip-hop content. The scope for the community is huge and should it take off I too am confident that an actual rapping sensation could be born through the use of this game. The developers have taken their sweet time but Def Jam Rapstar should be ready for release on October 5th on Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Wii.

Current list of tracks confirmed (Artist - track)

2 Pac: I Get Around
50 Cent: I Get Money
A Tribe Called Quest - Scenario
Absolute Beginner - Hammerhart (German exclusive)
Biz Markie: Just A Friend
Chipmunk - Chip Diddy Chip
Das Bo - Türlich Türlich (German exclusive)
Diddy (Featuring The Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim & The Lox - It's All About The Benjamins (Remix)
Dizzee Rascal: Fix Up, Look Sharp (UK exclusive)
Drake: Best I Ever Had
Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg: Nuthin' But a "G" Thang
Ice Cube: It Was A Good Day
Jim Jones - We Fly High
Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx: Gold Digger
Kery James - Banlieusards (French exlusive)
Kool Savas: Futurama (German exclusive)
Lil' Wayne: A Milli
LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out
Ludacris - Stand Up
Method Man (Featuring Mary J. Blige) - You're All I Need/I'll Be There For You
Nas (Featuring Diddy) - Hate Me Now
Nelly - Hot In Herre
Notorious B.I.G: Juicy
NTM featuring Lord Ko: Ma Benz (French exclusive)
Onyx - Slam
Outkast: So Fresh, So Clean
Oxmo Puccino - Mama Love (French exclusive)
Pete Rock and CL Smooth: They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)
Peter Fox (German exclusive)
Public Enemy - Fight The Power
Redman and Method Man: Da Rockwilder
RUN DMC - Run's House
Salt-N-Pepa: Push It
Sefyu: Molotov 4 (French exclusive)
Slick Rick: Children's Story (US exclusive)
T.I. featuring Rihanna: Live Your Life
Tinchy Stryder feat. N-Dubz - Number 1 (UK exclusive)
Tinie Tempah: Pass Out (UK exclusive)
Wu Tang Clan: C.R.E.A.M.
Young Jeezy featuring Kanye West: Put On
Wiley - 50/50

Freestyle Mode Producers and Tracks Confirmed

Cool & Dre - Epidemic
Danja - NARS
DJ Premier - JJ's Beat
DJ Khalil - The Good Doctor
Just Blaze - On the One
Nitti Beatz - Hands Up

POBmaestro | 26th August, 2010

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