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Def Jam: Icon - hands-on

The very first thing we noticed about Def Jam: Icon was the sky.

In a game full of celebrities beating the crap out of each other, that might seem like an odd thing to focus on. But you don't understand... this sky was dancing, its sun-streaked clouds literally sliding back and forth on the horizon. In fact, everything around us was moving to the soundtrack's beat. Normal stuff like buildings and spotlights... dangerous stuff like shooting flames and surging electricity. Most importantly, the famous fighters themselves.

The overwhelming impression was that of a hyper-violent, hyper-realistic hip-hop music video with us as the stars. And that's exactly the feeling that EA producer Kudo Tsunoda and his team hope to create.

To this end, anything that would remind you that Def Jam: Icon is just a videogame has been stripped away. Don’t look for a combo counter to tell you when's best to attack your opponent; simply listen to the music, follow the rhythm and hit when the beat hits. No menu will show you where to throw your enemy for environmental damage, either; smash up the stage enough and obvious hazards like exploding gas pumps and ruptured water pipes will reveal themselves. Finally, you can forget life bars; you'll know the other guy's hurting by the tears in his clothes, the bruises on his face and the slump in his swagger.

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