Game Review: DJ Hero
Release: October 27th
Genre: Rhythm Based, Music & Party
Developer: Freestyle Games
Available Platforms: PS3, PS2. Wii, Xbox360
Players: 1-2 / Co-Op 2, Online Battle Mode
MSRP: $119.99 or $199.99 Renegade Edition
ESRB Rating: “T” Teen
Website: DJ Hero
Rhythm games are nothing new, we have been going crazy for them since Guitar Hero. We have everything from whole band games catered to kids, to a Rockband game with Lego’s. Now Activison, AKA the house that rhythm games built, is bringing us DJ Hero. Dive into the world and music of the DJ and represent your skills on “The wheel of plastic.”
As you open the box the first thing you will noticed is the turntable controller, it feels solid and looks like whoever built it knew something about turntables. Inside the turntable are three colored buttons similar to the fret buttons on a Guitar Hero guitar, but with a little bit of texture to them. The mixer attached to the turntable has a plastic flap that folds up revealing the consoles buttons, a D-Pad, and if you’re doing it next Gen style a home or dashboard button. Below that is Euphoria button (Think Star Power) and next to that is the effects dial, which you can use to manipulate sound at points in the game (Think Whammy Bar). The cross fader which is used by DJ’s to mix songs together is moveable from left to right with a little resistance in the center. If you’re a lefty, like myself, don’t worry. The cross fader portion can come apart so the turntable can be adjusted for your playing style. I can safely say that if you are reading this most likely you have played a music-based game in either the band of hero series. As you start up the game I highly recommend that you play the tutorial from the start, even if you are a real or hobbyist DJ, its like when a guitar player plays Rock Band for the first time you have to kind of rethink what you know.
There is many ways to play DJ Hero including, Quick play and Custom Set Lists , Online play is done with Ranked or Player matches that you can rank up with online leader boards. Progression through the game is done not by playing a song but by rocking the crowd with your custom play list. So when your finally ready to play you pick a set list, which usually consist of four or more songs in which you will play, although I do have to say you have the option of arranging your set list any order you want. The difficulty is standard fare of Easy to Expert, with the options to customize your character, outfits, turntable and samples. So you now have the turntable on your lap and your ready to scratch, you picked your song and the crowd awaits your melodic tunes.
When you begin playing the game the three lines corresponding to the buttons on the turntable will be very familiar to you. As the buttons come up you will hit the corresponding buttons to the tunes, when a button comes up and it looks like a long bar you will hold the corresponding color down and move the turntable in a scratching motion…”BAM” DJ you just did a little..Whikky Whikky..Scratch. Now there are only three bars to play with Left , Right, and center. When the Left or Right rhythm bar bends to its corresponding side you move the cross fader to the corresponding side, this is what will add mixes to you songs to bring the funk. At points during a song you will have a circular marker come up over the rhythm bar letting you know when its OK to turn the effects dial, and just like the wha wha bar it creates a sonic effect to the track. The last little bit of basic gameplay is at certain parts of the song the center line will be filled in red, when this happens you can tap the center button repeatedly to play some sample effects.
DJ Hero is all about the music, and for a game that many feel is only about Hip Hop, they did a good job about bringing the DJ experience home. There is a mix of house, techno, and Drum n Bass here, but don’t worry Hip Hop heads what you want is here, but presented in a genera called the Mash-Up. Originating over in Europe a while ago, it blends vocals from one song with instrumentals from another for a unique and artistic effect. The addition of having some song that allow for a guitar player to join you is a great idea also, as not everyone will just want to sit on the couch and watch. The addition of many well know DJ’s throughout the music industry is also welcomed and great to see them get their props, and in true Hero fashion there are the ridiculous character to choose from. If the aim of DJ hero was to really give everyone a glimpse of the DJ culture, than DJ Hero has done just that.
Although tons of fun can be found in DJ Hero it is not without its scratches in the Vinyl. As well as the turntable is built, I understand that they could not make the turntable full size, it’s more like CD turntable size. Being as such I often found my King Kong hands slipping off the turntable mid song thus funking my scratch up. Playing the game is fun but anything below the medium setting will have you feeling like your just playing Tap-Tap Hero. A couple of design issues also kept DJ Hero from reaching its full potential. Things such as the main menu have such a busy look to it I often found myself just shuffling though them going OK where am I? The busy look is also played throughout the game as well, some of the stages have so many added style visuals I sometimes got distracted from what I was doing by a bright flash. An online store would also have been nice instead of an online ticker ala CNN telling me new DLC is up…”BUSY”
Most of my flaws that I found in DJ Hero, were minor at best and the whole hand too big thing is my parents fault. In the end I found DJ Hero to be a fun entertaining experience that will give people a different perspective to the world of the DJ. While many will find it a bit pricey, as only DJ enthusiast will hop on it right away, it will be something everyone should eventually have in their gaming library. “Yeahhhhhh….Boyyyyyy!!!”