Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33
Buy On
  1. Electronic Arts deserves kudos for breathing new life into the aging fighting genre with this title's fresh approach.
  2. This is the first time EA BIG have gotten the mix between style and substance truly wrong. But that's what you get for listening to the marketing department - and not the gamers.
  3. One of the most highly addictive and thoroughly entertaining wrestling titles to come along in a long time and it’s a game no fighting fan should miss out on.
  4. 89
    When it comes to two-player action, you'll be hard-pressed to find a smoother, slicker slobberknocker than this wrestler... The highest rated wrestling game on the site.
  5. As a wrestling game, Def Jam Vendetta manages to succeed on most every level, providing surprisingly deep gameplay, quality graphics and sound, and a distinctive atmosphere.
  6. 75
    Another notable absence is weapons. You heard me right: No weapons!... A wrestling game without steel chairs is like Maxim magazine without the cover girl.
  7. Compared to the all-powerful "SmackDown!" it gets pummelled into the canvas in terms of variety of moves and subtlety. (Relatively speaking, or course. Neither are exactly delicate games). [GamesMaster]
  8. 90
    At once the best wrestling game in years, an awesome showcase for some damn good hip-hop, and an example of what can happen when a game company takes a chance.
  9. Unfortunately, Def Jam drops the mic again by not providing any sort of Character Creator.
  10. Maybe wrestling and rap will suit you more than me, or maybe it won’t.
  11. PSM Magazine
    An astonishingly fun game that even non-wresting fans will have a blast with. There's nothing remotely like it in the fighting or wrestling genres. [Apr 2003, p.24]
  12. GMR Magazine
    One of the fastest-paced, most exciting wrestling games we've ever played... [But] effectively dealing with multiple opponents is highly problematic. [Apr 2003, p.70]
  13. If only DMX could sic his pit bulls on you, Funkmaster Flex burst your eardrums ID'ing himself, or Redman burn you with a blunt.
  14. My front runner for the fighting game of the year. While it does lack the variety of match types that Smackdown offers, it I believe is just as much fun, if not more fun than "Smackdown."
  15. There’s a ton of replay value with the numerous game modes, and the computer opponents can always be counted on for a challenge, especially with the expansive number of moves for each fighter.
  16. It’s a fast and furious blast that should appeal to all grapple fans. Now how’s about giving us 80’s Metal Vendetta next, EA?
  17. If you are not a big fan of wrestling games or rap artists, it will only be entertaining as a weekend rental.
  18. Game Informer
    It doesn't give you wrestling staples like table matches or a wrestling creator, sadly, but it does give you what most next-gen WWE titles can't: stellar gameplay. [Apr 2003, p.81]
  19. AKI has done a grand job of creating a game engine that (I hope) will evolve into the foundation for a formidable and robust franchise. This first iteration of the engine is great but there's room for improvement.
  20. A very fun wrestling game here loaded with style and bone crushing action. There are some annoying shortcomings to the game, but they certainly aren’t enough to irreparably hurt the game.
  21. A tongue-in-cheek and over-the-top brawler that conclusively proves wrestling games can be fun when gameplay and quality control take precedence over star power or licenses.
  22. While the lack of gameplay variety may not be enough to budge the giant that is the current crop of WWE wrestling games, Def Jam Vendetta certainly manages to hold its own.
  23. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    While the story line has fewer twists than a breadstick, the game is addictive because the balanced fighting engine keeps every battle interesting. [Apr 2003, p.114]
  24. Cheat Code Central
    I can honestly say that as far as wrestling games go this one is pretty darn decent. It's due to the grappling engine and the excellent graphics and animation.
  25. netjak
    As far as replay value is concerned, Def Jam: Vendetta has absolutely none. Zilch. Once you run through the story mode with the four playable characters, that pretty much ends it.
  26. 80
    So catchy that the hours will fly by as you get hooked on working your way up the ladder, visiting new fight clubs, and acquiring ever-more-attractive girlfriends.
  27. 80
    Just flat-out fun. It's not the most complex offering, but there's something to be said for a title that doesn't overreach and instead focuses on tight gameplay and enticing features.
  28. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    The key to Vendetta's success (I mean, seriously, rappers wrestling?) is that it's fast, fluid, and features an almost perfectly balanced wrestling engine. [Apr 2003, p.86]
  29. Play Magazine
    Every fighter is incredibly big and extremely detailed. The animations are silky smooth and the combos just seem to meld into one another seamlessly. [Apr 2003, p.60]
  30. A great looking game with a tried-and-true wrestling engine behind it. Unfortunately the modes of play and options are lacking, and casual fans only interested in the recording artists will quickly tire of the structured format.
  31. GameNow
    It provides really, really good wrestling gameplay without the soul-rotting WWE crap. [Apr 2003, p.48]
  32. Def Jam Vendetta makes its strange combination of license and genre work well. It is a wrestling game done right and a must play for any fan of the scripted sport.
  33. Entertainment Weekly
    When all is said and done, Vendetta is an uninspired wrestling title that lacks Def Jam's trademark sheen. [21 Mar 2003, p.120]

Awards & Rankings

#58 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2003
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 45 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 45
  2. Negative: 3 out of 45
  1. Jan 31, 2018
    A Really Good Fighting-Game but DJ FFNY is a bit superior in my opinion. I am hoping for a modern DJ-Game.
  2. May 1, 2016
    One of the best fighting games of all time and one of the best fighting games on PS2 . Normal Graphics , many submissions and grapples andOne of the best fighting games of all time and one of the best fighting games on PS2 . Normal Graphics , many submissions and grapples and strikes . Awesome characters and enemies . This is wrestling game . Def Jam Vendetta even better than WWE SmackDown Here Comes The Pain . 8/10 Full Review »
  3. Aug 12, 2010
    I remember when I first started to play videogames, thiswas one of the first games that I ever played, and I have to say, it is one of theI remember when I first started to play videogames, thiswas one of the first games that I ever played, and I have to say, it is one of the most entertaining fighting games ever to come out for the PS2. Full Review »