Def Jam: Icon shares the same graphics engine as Fight Night, giving it an eerily real look. All of the featured artists look lifelike, right down to their naturally moving licensed clothes. It is almost creepy to watch some of the cut scenes; they don’t look completely lifelike, but can easily stand toe-to-toe with some of the better CGI movies out there.
Icon’s best visuals come during gameplay. Rather than sticking to the ultra-real look of the story sequences, in-game visuals are more stylized. Environments are alive and react to the music. One of the game’s core mechanics is the ability “scratch” and remix background music. As you do this, the environments also deform and react. Windows break, buildings bend, speakers and video monitors explode… One arena features a helicopter whose blades spin in time with the beat which, of course, you can change with a few rotations of the analog stick.
All of the artists featured in the game also have songs on the soundtrack. Though that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, the way they are integrated into the game is innovative and actually means something. As an artists’ music plays in the background, he receives a boost of power – so there’s a constant tug-of-war between rappers as they try to remix the soundtrack into their music. The soundtrack is uncensored and full of F-bombs and other racial taunts, so if you happen to be turned off by that sort of thing, its here.
The PS3 version is missing the “Music Mode” found in the 360 version, so you can’t import your own songs into the game. However, the mode has been receiving mixed reactions from press and users, so it apparently isn’t that big of a loss.