Scratchin' It Up...Again!
Xbox 3608.50
Overall 8.50
DJ Hero was one of the most ambitious titles of last year, and really didn’t get all the recognition that it really deserved. Admittedly, it was a bit of a bold gamble (especially going as crazy as pricing a special edition at $300 AUD, shortly reduced to $100), but for those who took the risk, it paid off with one of the freshest and most exhilarating rhythm games seen in some time.
Regardless, a sequel was expected, and DJ Hero 2 doesn’t fail to impress – providing one of the best rhythm game experiences of 2010.
For the most part, DJ Hero 2 is a refinement of last years game – it improves on just about every aspect of the gameplay, without adding too much new. For starters – freestyling now plays a bigger role in the game. Previously, the only real element of personalization that you had in a mix were via sample zones – which were tied to generic sets you needed to unlock (which everyone just used the Public Enemy samples, regardless).

Not only now are the samples tied to the different songs in a mix, but there are zones now where you can freely swap between the two songs in a mix, as well as zones where you can freely scratch. And you’re now scored for all this – adding in not only a deeper layer of personalization to a mix, but also giving you an incentive to experiment to try make a mix sound fantastic.

Replacing last years rather haphazard single player mode is Empire Mode. There’s supposed to be a story about how you’re travelling around the world, building up your brand, but it’s something that only appears in the loading screens upon starting the domination of a club.

Effectively, Empire Mode is more or less a much more organized career mode than last years – the flow of each club starts off with you playing as one of the many guest DJ’s (such as the RZA, Deadmau5, David Guetta etc.) in a megamix (three/four mixes combined together), a few setlists, a battle against a rival DJ, a battle against a guest DJ, and an unlockable bonus mix to play. It’s not revolutionary, but it does what it’s expected of.

However, the most significant addition to the game is a bigger emphasis on multiplayer – which was an element that was underrepresented in a big way in the original game. In one of the best moves developer Freestyle Games could’ve made, DJ Hero 2’s multiplayer component is heavily inspired from sister studio Neversoft’s underrated Guitar Hero 5.

The Party Play modes (the drop in/drop out co-op) are present, as well as a host of different competitive multiplayer modes – the most prominent of these is a checkpoint battle, wherein you battle to see who can do the well across a mix. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had much of the chance to check any of these modes out – lacking an additional DJ Hero turntable to do so.

In addition, one of the weakest elements of last years game – the DJ vs Guitar mixes, have been completely nixed, replaced by a singing mechanic. Unlike with the DJ/Guitar work, you can play co-operatively on a larger portion of the mixes – which immediately is a plus. That being said though, the mechanic is something that provides an interesting experience. Unlike other games with a singing mechanic, DJ Hero 2 requires you to know how to sing two songs at the one time, as well as making you forget how you’re supposed to sing the songs, thanks to the mixes changing up the order in how lyrics progress. It functions well enough, but it certainly won’t be a replacement for other games.

Visually, DJ Hero 2 is underwhelming. Not that it looks bad – but it lacks the distinctive style and look of the first game that defined what DJ Hero was about. Ditching it for a more realistic look doesn’t quite work here. The environments do look great, as do all the animation work. The models for the guest DJ’s range from good (The RZA, Deadmau5) to kinda off (Tiesto, David Guetta). Otherwise, looks fine.

It’s a completely different story for the sound. As mentioned above, the guitar based stuff has been completely nixed, and there’s practically no repetition in terms of the mixes (so no more of that godawful Billy Squier song that was mixed with at least 5 or 6 songs). As such – there’s much more of a focus to the soundtrack on music that can be mixed together well, providing one of the best soundtracks of 2010. In particular – some of the house/electronica mixes towards the end of the setlist are quite fantastic, such as New Orders “Blue Monday” vs Calvin Harris’s “I’m Not Alone”, or even Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” vs Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E”.

With that being said, there are quite a few dud mixes – it becomes apparent that no matter how much you scratch, mix or fade between; you’re never going to make Soulja Boy, Lil’ Wayne, Lil’ John and Chamillionare sound good.

As far as sequels go – DJ Hero 2 trumps the original. While it doesn't add anything particularly revolutionary or game changing, it's a fantastic refinement on one of the better games of last year. It's worth it alone for the fantastic soundtrack. Just as long as you ignore the singing portions of the game, you're going to have a hell of a time.
Posted by darthhomer Fri, 05 Nov 2010 10:22:43
Fri, 05 Nov 2010 22:50:52
Whats wrong with Soulja Boy. Nyaa

Great review. Sounds like a cool game.
Sat, 06 Nov 2010 10:38:03
I haven't played either of the DJ Hero games and I think I would quite enjoy them.  The bundles with the first game are really cheap now but I just can't bring myself to get another bulky plastic music toy peripheral.  Especially when I have a pair of real SL1210s I can play with
Sat, 06 Nov 2010 21:36:15
I should comment Vader, that in one of the Soulja Boy mixes - they actually animate your character pointing and saying the "YOOOOOUUUU" part. Was really hilarious.

Fair call there Bugsy. It's worth checking out, but you probably would have more fun with the real kit you have.
Sun, 07 Nov 2010 03:55:16
Will consider when it's $4.
Sun, 07 Nov 2010 04:38:11
Tue, 09 Nov 2010 10:06:36
The lacklustre commercial response to this game is karma for all the sausage making Activision does.

It sounds from all accounts that this game deserves to succeed but at this point, because of the annualization of Guitar Hero, Activision is like the boy who cried wolf.
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