Def Jam Rapstar Impressions
I picked up Rapstar this week and thought that people on the fence would like some impressions. Bulleted (no pun intended) for your pleasure.
- There is a Career, Party, and Freestyle mode. Career mode is basically a way to unlock stuff including a few songs. Work your way through all of the songs to unlock everything. Pretty basic stuff. Party mode opens up all of the songs except for the locked songs that require some time in the career mode to unlock. The three gameplay choices of solo, duet, and battle are good. In solo and battle, you handle everything on your own. Obviously solo is solo, and battle is a 2 player mode that scores both performances with the high score winning. And when I say everything, that includes singing hooks and getting scored on pitch. There are parts that unexpectedly turn into singing, like Kanye’s verse on Slow Jamz and some of Ja’s lyrics on Always on Time. Since they are pretty much singing, I think this is acceptable. The duet mode allows each player to choose who they want to perform as on the songs where it applies. On songs with a lot of rappers and no significant hook vocals, it usually lets both players split each rappers verse and take turns. My girlfriend likes to sing, so she sang all of the hooks while I handled the rhymes. This was pretty fun. And she was surprisingly good on the rapping parts! We had a lot of fun with the duet mode. Freestyle mode is basically some beats that you can rhyme over and post on the internet for the world to laugh at in the Community section.
- This game is for fans of rapPING. The actual act of rapping. If you’re a hip hop snob and can’t stomach having to recite a Soulja Boy song, this game is not for you. I can honestly say that the fun sharply declines when doing a song that you don’t like. Unless this game blows up like Rock Band (it won’t), the chances of seeing anything but mainstream hits as DLC are probably slim.
- Censoring does hurt the flow of some of the songs, especially if you don’t know the lyrics. Some songs just die right in the middle of a verse with blank spots that span multiple lines. I kinda go back and forth with this just because if you’re playing with a lot of people around, some people don’t want to hear the language. It would probably be a lot more work for the devs, but the option of censored and uncensored would have been nice. Maybe this was done so that the videos matched up with the songs since you pretty much get the video edit. This is evident on songs like Da Rockwilder where you have to do the How High part that breaks up Meth and Red’s verses.
- The videos are cool, and every song that I’ve played had the videos playing with the exception of Brass Monkey which I don’t think had a video. I wish that the video would fill the screen, but it was probably done this way to make the lyrics easier to read.
- After a song, you can look at the song details and see the lyrics with the words you missed highlighted so that you can try to fix your mistakes. This was unexpected and pretty neat.
- The Community section allows you to watch the same videos that are posted on the website and upload your own videos. I was surprised that you can do pretty much everything within the game without the aid of a computer. Watching the ridiculous videos that people post is entertaining to say the least.
- This game will prove to you that you don’t know as many lyrics as you think you do. For the most part it’s pretty accurate in gauging your skills, but I found that sometimes it claimed that I missed words that I know I didn’t. I was playing on hard, so this may not happen as much on easier levels. Or maybe I’m not as good as I think I am.
- If you are black and are playing with friends who are not black, prepare to hear inadvertent N-bombs dropped when people really get into a song that they know by heart. If you can’t handle that, this game is not for you. Well, it’s not for your multicultural parties anyway.
Overall, the game is pretty fun. I think it is most fun when playing with a friend, especially when you get to a song that you don’t really like. Playing alone and singing about getting your swag on seems pretty lame without somebody suffering alongside you. If you think rapping is fun and you want to be scored while doing it, this game fits the bill. Definitely a party hit. It looks like a PS2 game, but the community features (including an in-game store w/video previews) make up for it. There is a lot DLC lined up for this game so if you don’t like all of the songs on the disc, there are already some available for download and more on the way. You can find out more about the game here.