Published on September 6th, 2010 | by prime0
DJ Hero 2 – Preview
The notion that DJ Hero didn’t sell very well isn’t actually true. At all. The pricey turntable kit may have had a sluggish start, but sales picked up, word-of-mouth got around and the world got just a little bit funkier. Which is not a bad thing at all.
This makes DJ Hero 2 a pretty important game, then. There’s a lot of folk out there with a plastic turntable taking up cupboard space and barely a fresh tune to spin. DJ Hero’s DLC program has been sparse at least, and the wannabe scratch perverts out there need something new to test out their finely tuned rewinds and crossfader crabs.
DJ Hero 2, then, is quite firmly bringing the noise. There are 70 brand-new mashups to get your digits around, featuring the likes of Kanye West, The Chemical Brothers, Lady Gaga, Rhianna and even the mighty Metallica getting in on the mix. There are hosts of big name DJs too, with Tiesto joining Deadmau5 and DJ Q Bert to lay the beat-based smackdown on your speakers. So far, so good then, but is DJ Hero 2 actually bringing anything different to the party? Well, in short, yes it is. Freestyle games has been listening to all the feedback that the DJ Hero community has been spouting since the original game’s launch, and has gone to great lengths to ensure that DJ Hero 2 lives up to the public’s expectations.
The first major tweak is the inclusion of freestyle scratch sections. Whereas before, every part of a tune that involved a record being pushed up and down against the needle was scripted. You had to do it exactly how the note chart demanded, or fail. Now though, all songs have large freestyle sections that let you scratch to your heart’s content and, brilliantly, the software is able to recognize just what you’re doing, and make it sound good. Try it in real life, and you’ll end up with a broken needle, a broken record and the worst noise you’ve ever heard.
It makes the DJing experience feel more organic, because ultimately DJ Hero has very little in common with actually DJing, but it does push some of the same buttons in your brain (well, we assume so, not being DJs and all). The more freedom you have to create new music out of two concurrently playing records, the better. Sampling has been improved too. Not only is there a bigger selection of noises to incorporate into your mashups, but they’re much smoother and match the beats better. Again, making you feel more like a master.
And it’s a master DJ you will be if and when you manage to complete Empire mode, DJ Hero 2’s single-player campaign. You may remember DJ Hero’s rather lackluster effort, which just fed you a series of predetermined sets with little-to-no fanfare. Fine at the time, but Empire mode sounds that bit sexier. You start out as a zero, a bedroom DJ hoping for fame and fortune. With a bit of luck, some vicious scratching skills and bumping into the right people at the right time, you begin to build yourself up to superstar DJ level, eventually creating your own empire. Should add a nice bit of drama to proceedings.
The real drama though, will come when you’re battling your mates in DJ Hero’s improved multiplayer modes. Our hands-on time focused on battling, which splits every song into sections. The better you do in a section, the more points you rack up. You share freestyle sections too, and the first one to activate it gets to keep the freestyle going while his or her opponent just sits there looking glum. Predictably, it’s entertaining stuff, and injects DJ Hero 2 with a much-needed dose of competitive spirit.
That’s not the only way to jam together though. There’s full microphone support this time too, so if you have a USB mic left over from your We Sing sessions, you can plug it in and MC like a trooper. The words will hover at the top of the screen in classic Guitar Hero style, although they might sound a little strange considering they’ll be from two different songs. Should make for some rather amusing YouTube clips, though.
So, there’s plenty there to get stuck into, providing you already have the kit. Is DJ Hero going to be enough to convince nonbelievers into the fold, though? Well, it should be. Those who’ve lost faith in music gaming due to the oversaturation of Rock Band and Guitar Hero shouldn’t be put off – this is a very different animal indeed. It’s far more technical and demanding than the strum-happy guitar-based games, and you feel like far less of a loser when you’re playing it on your own.
It also works very well as a party game, just because the songs themselves are so well suited to gatherings. DJ Hero 2 will be no different, unless someone decides to get on the mic and unfortunately ruin it for everyone, of course.
DJ Hero 2 is shaping up to be the most essential music game this winter whether you have a turntable or not. Don’t let the ‘Hero’ moniker fool you, it’s very much a gamer’s game, full of score challenges and deep, technical wizardry. And of course, it’s the closest most of us will ever get to spinning the wheels of steel.