Hey Mr. DJ, put the record on!
Posted 3 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
Music/Rhythm games have come a long way since Dance Dance Revolution. First was the dancing, then karaoke games were introduced only to be followed by guitars and drums. Just when we thought that we would be destined to play Guitar Hero or Rock Band for the rest of our lives, Activision and Freestyle Games teamed up to present DJ Hero, an all new interactive music experience in which your goal will be to showcase your scratching and mixing skills with the help of a turntable controller. Not only will this game surprise you but also gives the music/rhythm genre a much needed push into revolutionary gameplay, even though “revolution” won’t come cheap.
But how does DJ Hero play out?
Every mix presented in the game is a mash-up of two songs, each tied to a coloured stream either green or blue button. The red stream is your sample stream which can be pre-loaded with five different sound effects to customize your track during gameplay. Tap the green, red and blue buttons whenever you see the corresponding icon appear on the stream. Then, when you see the scratch icon appear, you will have to press and hold either the green or blue button and rotate the platter back and forth to emulate the scratching move just like a real DJ. As you move up in difficulties, advanced directional scratching methods will be introduced. The three first difficulty levels (Super Easy, Easy and Medium) lets you scratch any way you want.
On the left side of the table, you’ll have the mixer which has a cross fader, an effect dial and the Euphoria button. The cross fader is used to blend the two song streams together or completely switch to just one by moving it either to the left or right side. The effect dial, which is similar to the whammy bar on a guitar, affects the tone and pitch of the mix. It can also be used to select the sound samples you will load to your sample stream. Finally, there’s the Euphoria button. By pressing on it after perfectly playing a highlighted section, it unleashes your “star power” and doubles your multiplier just like in Guitar Hero. Entering Euphoria mode also handles the cross fading for you as long as Euphoria keeps going. Finally, since the platter can be spin 360 degrees, it will allow you to rewind a section of the song in order to increase your score. All you need to do is make sure you keep playing perfectly and keep an 8x combo streak going until the mention “Rewind” appears on the screen. When that happens, all you have to do is spin the platter and rack up the additional points.
In terms of gameplay options, DJ Hero is all about completing pre-determined set-lists, each having a maximum number of stars to earn. As you progress through, these stars will be needed to unlock additional venues, characters, DJ decks and of course new set-lists. There’s also a simple quick play mode that lets you play unlocked mixes one after another. Two additional custom set-lists that you can create and save for later use are also available. Custom set-lists also let you re-organize the running order of each track and even sort them by high score, star count, song difficulty, etc.
Multiplayer lets you play locally with a friend (if you happen to have a second turntable or in some set-lists a guitar) in competitive and cooperative gigs. There’s also an online mode in which you can create private matches or go up against a total stranger through matchmaking. Luckily, the offline part of the game carries enough punch that it easily overshadows the barebones multiplayer. Then again, it’s the first DJ Hero game. You can’t just have everything right away, right?
Now, just like the dance mats and the guitars when they were first introduced, the learning curve in DJ Hero will be a bit steep at the beginning but it’s far from being an impossible game to play. You will need practice and patience during the first few hours but you will end up getting it fast, whether you are an experienced music game player or not. As far as the turntable goes, it’s an impressive high-quality peripheral. It’s light, wireless and comfortable even though some players with big hands might find it difficult to play for long sessions. The crossfading button works but is also too sensitive during certain crossfading patterns. A little resistance would have been appreciated. Lastly, the turntable can be easily set-up for left-handed players. All you have to do is detach the mixer from the left-side of the platter and switch it to the right side. Little technical detail: we were told at a recent media event that the PS2 turntable can be used on the PS3 for local multiplayer sessions, which will be quite convenient for Playstation users.
Graphics & Sound
Visually, the game is a treat. Capturing the vibe of being at the club was important and lots of cool things will be happening while your rock the turntable; like sexy dancers shaking their thing and the crazy crowds shouting senseless at your crazy DJ skills. The game also offers different clubs or “levels” each rendered with detail and care. The energetic camera work is also worth mentioning and is even more noticeable when entering the party mode. By holding the Euphoria button for a few seconds at the beginning of the setlist, the mix puts itself in auto-play mode until you decide to jump in and play.
Sound wise, DJ Hero includes 93 (!) mixes featuring an all-star list of artists from today and yesterday. Even though it feels weird to imagine a mix featuring David Bowie and Marvin Gaye, you should know that each track presented in the game was carefully remixed by pros. Well-known DJ’s such as Daft Punk, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Shadow and Grand Master Flash (which by the way are also unlockable characters) have contributed to the game. Tracks from artists such as Gwen Stefani, Beastie Boys, 2Pac, Jay-Z, Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Gorillaz, Rihanna, Queen and even Tears For Fears are also featured.
At the time of writing this review, one additional mix was made available for download through the PS Store and Xbox Live Marketplace and more can be expected in the next few weeks.
The $120 price tag is certainly the biggest knock against DJ Hero. People would be tempted to give it a try but at that price, many would be pissed off if they get bored after a week of gameplay. Being the first game to use a turntable also has the unfair un-advantage to have no other game to support the peripheral, making it difficult to maximize your buy.
It would crazy to think that Activision expects to attract as much people as a Guitar Hero game could, even though the idea of introducing a guitar peripheral for the first time sounded like a crazy idea back then. Only time will tell if playing the disc jockey will turn out to be less expensive in the future (we already know that there’s a sequel in the works). Until that day arrives, trying out this bad boy before buying is recommended. Now, if you identify yourself as a hardcore gamer who deeply enjoys music games, is willing to shed the money and needs a bigger challenge but most of all needs something new, this is the game you are looking for.
Just so you know, if you have $200 to spend, Activision released DJ Hero: Renegade Edition…
Compared to Activision’s other music game franchise, DJ Hero isn’t for everyone since it targets a small specific group of people/gamers: those who have a disc jockey background or those who always dreamt to be one. Regardless of this, we have to applaud Activision’s willingness and audaciousness to introduce a new product.
DJ Hero deserves a serious look. Who knows, you might get hooked…like me.
+ Superb selection of mixes
+ Set-up for lefties
+ Innovative and addictive gameplay, great challenge
- Learning curve is steep but manageable
- Cross fading button is sensitive
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Release Date : 2009/10/27
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Activision
Developer : FreeStyle Games
Category : Music,Tempo, Dance
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
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