I’ve always been a real hardcore techno fan; unfortunately at the time the original DJ Hero had come out, I had just purchased my first house, and didn’t have the spare money to pick it up. By the time I could afford it, that game had fallen to the wayside because of whatever “new hotness” had come out at the time. So while I never player the first DJ Hero, when I saw the sequel was coming out I was determined to get it and play – so how did it fare? Was it as good ad I’d hoped, or did the mixing fall flat?
Story: There’s no story to speak of here (much like other music genre games); you pick your avatar, dress him or her up how you choose, and then start playing. Levels are composed of three (or more) mixes strung together into a “MegaMix”. Once you gain a set number of stars (5 possible per mix), you unlock the next venue to play at, along with more MegaMixes.
If it sounds basic, that’s because it really is – however there’s no need for an overarching narrative here. It’s just as much fun to go into quick play and just pick a mix and go. The MegaMixes are a hell of a lot of fun to play though, because it sounds a LOT like some dance parties I’ve been to in the past.
Gameplay: In DJ Hero 2, there are a lot of gameplay mechanics that work together in pretty much perfect harmony. First there’s three buttons – green, blue, and red; and they each control something different. With how I have it set, the green button is the right track, the blue button is the left track, and the red is the samples.
In addition to those buttons, you have a crossfade bar that lets you select the track that’s playing – most parts in the mix will tell you when to move the fader, but there are wonderful freestyle segments that let you move it as you wish. In these freestyle parts, the game shows you when the vocal cues are in the segments, so you can make your freestyle mix sound really professional.
Then there’s the scratching. Every DJ worth his turntable knows how to scratch, and in order to be good here you need to learn how to as well. There’s standard scratching segments, there’s freestyle scratching segments (where you can control the speed and sound of your scratching), and there’s directional segments where you can only scratch in one direction.
Then there’s the effects knob that dramatically changes certain parts of mixes (think whammy bar on guitars), and the “Euphoria” meter. Euphoria is like overdrive, or star power in other music games in that is doubles your bonus – it also has another VERY important feature where while your Euphoria is active, the game goes on auto-pilot with reference to cross-fading. It’s a very nice helper on some of the more brutal mixes. The last thing that you have to worry about is the rewind feature, which allows you to rewind the track to a previous checkpoint to get even more points.
Graphics: The graphics are basically the same as a Guitar Hero game, so they’re not bad, but they’re not going to make your jaw drop because they’re so spectacular. DJ Hero 2 also has a few animations of people dancing (like this one chick you’ll see over and over) that just look kinda stupid. I didn’t notice any framerate issues here, which is a really good thing.
Sound: The soundtrack on DJ Hero 2 is SWEET! I mean I need to grab the soundtrack and put it on my iPhone kind of sweet. Some of the mixes just seem so natural, that you wonder why this will be the first time you’ve heard them. I know there were quite a few times that I caught myself moving to the rhythm of the music while ripping through a track.
Wishes: It may be a silly thing to wish for, but I do wish there was some DLC out already. The mixes already in the game are too catchy, I need some new tunes to clean my musical palette. Other than that, there’s nothing more I feel the need to wish for, DJ Hero 2 is one of the best music games I’ve ever played.
Final Thoughts: One of the things I really liked about DJ Hero 2 is that in multiplayer you can drop in and out at any time without disrupting the flow of the mix. You can go into Party Play, and turn the mix onto constant, and then never actually jump in – basically turning the game into a jukebox. It’s a neat feature I’ve been asking for in every music game to date; a way to listen to the music without actually playing a note.
Overall I give DJ Hero 2 4.5 out of 5 Michelas.