Australia, February 15, 2007 - http://ps3.ign.com/objects/766/766228.html, the latest game in the hard hitting series, comes with a line-up that's a veritable who's who of hop. You've no doubt soaked up the innovative scratch mechanics and environmental interactivity via the demo on Marketplace, but which rappers are you most looking forward to crushing skulls with in the final game? We took a quick poll of the IGN Australia staffers to come up with our Top 5 list. Here's a look at which playaz we're most excited about erm, playing as.

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Big Boi
You've already sampled his style in the demo, and in our minds Big Boi is one of the biggest draws in the game. With the biggest drawers in the game. Along with Andre 3000, OutKast have been ahead of the hop game for 13 years now, representing the Dirty South with brilliant record after brilliant record. Tight and inventive production, sing along melodies and choruses, OutKast have their own definitive style. After years of figuratively beating down hop pretenders, it's time to do it literally, Big Boi style, which means it'll be a Southernplayalisticadillacbeatdown. With an array of spinning backhand punches and elbows to the head, Big Boi puts his whole body into his blows and looks completely at home as a vicious street brawler.

Let's just hope that Andre 3000 is an unlockable character, and that Big Boi has a Bombs Over Baghdad special attack.

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Lil Jon
Seeing Lil Jon lope around the arena, looking slightly dishevelled thanks to the oversize baseball cap hanging loosely off his head, you might wonder what (or should we say "whhaaat") he's doing in Icon. Then he opens his mouth. Is there anyone more perfectly suited to freaking out an opponent by screaming out crazy from behind his mad grills? We don't think so, and once you throw a pimp cup attack or two into the equation, along with an array of kicks and nasty leaping knee attacks, you've got the ultimate party brawler. Plus, when he gets beaten up, he doesn't bleed, he just leaks crunk juice. Yeeaah.

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Method Man
36 Chambers. A great hop album? Or the greatest? Either way, Meth leapt to prominence with the Wu's first release, quickly followed it up with a solo joint, and he's been a major playa ever since. His scratchy rasping voice is one of the most identifiable in hop, even if you can't see his face behind the cloud of blunt smoke. Why's he going to kick ass in Icon? Because he channels Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze) in his lyrics, which has a certain geek appeal, and because his gruff, hop persona seems a natural fit for the game. If only he could double team with Redman in the game to lay the smack down.

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Ludacris
The man behind the single greatest album title of all time (Chicken-N-Beer) was an instant pick for our list. Ludacris is a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, coated in a rapper, and it's obvious that after establishing himself as a great actor, he needs to get back to basics and express himself through the medium of street violence. With an array of devastating spinning kicks, this MC has serious Hustle & Flow… just don't expect much in the way of Southern Hospitality. Another great reason to play as Ludacris? Taking on T.I. in a battle to become King of the South.

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Russell Simmons
Just because he's a poet and a vegan doesn't mean he can't kick butt. Well, actually it kinda does, but we'll give this industry legend the benefit of the doubt anyway. After all, without Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, there would be no Def Jam. Simmons has had his fingaz (as I believe they're known in the hop world) in plenty of pies over the years - he's a civil rights campaigner and a philanthropist, he has numerous lines of clothing and jewellery, and above all else he believes in hop as an agent for social change. Simmons is in the list simply because we can't imagine exactly how EA Chicago are going to make him seem tough. It's like feeding a very very rich mouse to a succession of very hungry cats. What, after providing "disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts" through his Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, he's going to switch to providing rappers with significant exposure to his fist and access to the art of street brawling? Yeah, maybe not.

In all seriousness, we doubt that Simmons will actually be a playable fighter in the game; he'll probably fall more into the special guest category. Still, if he was a fighter, image the "Battle of the Hop Executives" when he goes up against Kevin Liles.

While there will be plenty of other artists in the game, including Bun B, E40, Fat Joe, Ghostface, Jim Jones, Kano, Kevin Liles, Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Redman, Sean Paul, Sticky Fingaz, T.I., Tego Calderon, The Game and Young Jeezy, we can't help but feel that there's some missed potential. Where's Melle Mel? This guy was there at the birth of hop, and according to Wikipedia he attended professional wrestling school. Boo-ya! Where are some of the greats of comedic hop? Sure, Humpty Hump wasn't exactly built, but we'd love him in the game, along with The Fresh Prince. And let's not forget the rappers that should be included simply so we can beat them to a bloody pulp. Yes, Sean Paul is in there, but where's Vanilla Ice (he could have Chicken Tonight and Man-train attacks), P-Diddy or K-Fed? More seriously, we'd love to see a future version with KRS-One, Guru, Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon, Afrika Bambaataa, Sage Francis, Rakim (in suit, bowler, cane and mad gold ropes), and Q-Bert, primarily for the scratching.

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Speaking of future editions, how about Def Jam: Beef Edition? How awesome would it be settling the biggest beefs in hop history in the ring? Nas vs Jay-Z, 50 Cent vs The Game, MC Shan vs KRS-One, Eazy-E vs Ice Cube and/or Dr Dre, the list just goes on and on. Hell, you could even have a whole East Coast versus West Coast line-up. You know, if you wanted to continue flogging a dead horse.

For now though, Def Jam: Icon is shaping up to be the best game in the series to date. If you want to discuss the rappers in the game, or who you'd like to see included, head on over to http://boards.ign.com/Message.aspx?topic=136929488&brd=10745.

Thanks to http://ps3.ign.com/articles/765/765333p1.html for sharing the news with us!