Platform: Xbox 360
Turntable & Guitar Controller
The music gaming genre has exploded over the past few years. There have been over a dozen new games, each title adding something different to the genre including new instruments, new game styles, and of course new music. DJ Hero is the next game in line to bring a brand new element with the introduction of a turntable controller that provides a new and exciting way to play . DJ Hero allows you to tap and scratch some of the best beats you will ever play as you make your way through over 90 songs mixed together by some of the top DJ’s in the world.
The visuals in DJ Hero are exactly what I expected to see in a music title where the focus is more geared on the sound and gameplay rather than high quality graphics. That being said, the graphics are pretty well done and have been polished to create a slick club-like feel to the game. There are a total of nine venues where you perform your shows. These range from dance clubs, subways, a mansion, and even Times Square in New York. Each venue has a crowd that dances and cheers to each of the tracks and there are even some dancers on the stage now and then, but you don’t really notice the small details like this as you are focused on watching the visual cues in your effort to successfully complete your song.
What is more likely is that you will notice your character more often than the background of each venue as they are much more detailed and seem to stand out more. DJ Hero boasts quite a few DJ celebrities. The stock characters you start off with are Jugglernort, DJ Kid Itch, Cleetus Cuts, and Candy Nova. There are thirteen more DJ’s that can be unlocked during play as you complete songs and earn stars based on how well you perform. Most of the unlockable DJ’s are artists that include the late DJ AM, DJ Shadow, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Daft Punk, DJ Z-Trip and Grandmaster Flash. They all look pretty good to and if you are a die hard mix-music fan you should recognize most of the virtual likenesses right away.
There is a bit of character customization in the game where you pick different outfits, headphones, decks (your turntable), and your deck skin (what your turntable looks like). These customizations apply to all of the created characters, but when it comes to the celebrity DJ’s you can only change headphones, decks and deck skins. This doesn’t apply to all of the celebrity DJ’s though as both DJ Shadow and Daft Punk have tighter restrictions to what you can change in terms character customization.
Without great music any music game is likely to disappoint and inevitably fail. DJ Hero does not let one down as it features a great variety of over 100 original songs and a whopping 93 original mixes.
With a lot of music games there is a bound to be a few tracks that one may not especially enjoy; however, I can honestly say that there was not one single track that I was disappointed with in DJ Hero and I enjoyed all the mixes that were included on the disc. The song selection spans the decades and includes a lot of my favourite artists like the Beasties Boys, Jay Z, Daft Punk, Benny Bennassi, Foo Fighters, Queen and Weezer. A few of my favourite songs are listed below, but if you would like to see the full list check it out at http://djhero.com/music/. Here are my faves:
• 2Pac - “All Eyez On Me” vs. The Aranbee Pop Orchestra - “Bittersweet Symphony (Instrumental)”
• Beastie Boys - “Here’s A Little Somethin’ For Ya” vs. DJ Shadow - “The Number Song (2009 Version)” (Produced and mixed by DJ Shadow)
• Beastie Boys - “Intergalactic” vs. Blondie - “Rapture”
• Bell Biv DeVoe - “Poison” vs. Beastie Boys - “Intergalactic” (Produced and mixed by DJ AM)
• Benny Benassi - “Satisfaction” vs. Tiësto - “Elements Of Life”
• Black Eyed Peas - “Boom Boom Pow” vs. Benny Benassi - “Satisfaction”
• Daft Punk - “Around The World” vs. Young MC - “Bust A Move”
• DJ Shadow - “Six Days (Remix ft. Mos Def)” vs. D-Code - “Annie’s Horn”
• Eminem - “My Name Is” vs. Beck - “Loser”
• Foo Fighters - “Monkey Wrench” vs. Beastie Boys - “Sabotage” (DJ-Guitar mix)
• Gorillaz - “Feel Good Inc.” vs. Blondie - “Atomic”
• Jackson 5 - “I Want You Back” vs. Gang Starr - “Just To Get A Rep” (Produced and mixed by DJ Yoda)
• Kid Cudi - “Day ‘N’ Nite” vs. Black Eyed Peas - “Boom Boom Pow”
• M.I.A. - “Paper Planes” vs. Eric B. & Rakim - “Eric B. Is President” (Produced and mixed by The Scratch Perverts)
• Marvin Gaye - “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” vs. David Bowie -“Let’s Dance”
• Paul van Dyk - “Nothing But You” vs. Sandy Rivera and David Penn - “I Can’t Stop (David Penn Remix)”
• Queen - “Another One Bites The Dust” vs. Daft Punk - “Da Funk”
Along with the visual customizations for each of the DJ’s you can also customize your characters audio samples. These samples are sound effects that you can toss into your mixes at certain intervals to spice up them up. There are 10 different sample sets you can choose from and each have a theme like Space, Posh, Old Skool, or Rave. Each set is unique and I suggest you take some time to listen to each sample set and decide on your personal preferences.
DJ Hero simulates the usage of a turntable and follows the gameplay model of Guitar Hero, which, for the uneducated, is all about watching on screen cues that are timed to the music you are listening to and you must match your actions to these cues. The controller looks like a turntable and has three buttons that are coloured blue, red, and green. There is also a special effects dial, a crossfader, and a “Euphoria” button (which is used to double your multiplier). Along with the great design of the controller you are also able to detach its two halves allowing you to set it up for left handed players so they can use it as naturally as possible. This is a great feature as it allows even more people, specifically those lefties out there, the ability to play the game too.
The two buttons on the turntable to the left and right represent the two songs that you are mixing together, and the middle button represents the samples that you add in to the mix that can be adjusted by the effects dial. Mixing in the songs is performed by either tapping the corresponding button, or when you see the scratch symbol you hold down the button and move the turntable back and forth to scratch in the music until it is finished.
All of the DJ controls can be learned through two tutorials called Learn to DJ – Basics and Learn to DJ – Advanced. Both of these are narrated by Grandmaster Flash. The advanced controls mainly apply to the Hard and Expert difficulties, so don’t worry about those techniques until you have mastered the Medium difficulty. I found that the tutorials were self explanatory and helped me to learn what essentially a new gameplay style. Of course to really master the game will take practice, especially on the higher skill levels. That being said, you should be able to find some level of comfort in the skill levels that are available in the game.
Local co-op play is either done DJ to DJ, where you need two turntable controllers to go head to head play or with a guitar controller. Fans of the guitar controller will be happy to know that you can join in on 10 songs with a guitar for co-op play, or if you just prefer just the guitar you can play these select DJ/Guitar songs solo as well.
There is also online multiplayer play via Xbox LIVE. Here you can play in a Quick Match (jumping into the first available game) or Custom Match (you select one of the themed setlists to play out against an online opponent). There is also Create Game and Create Private Game which is similar to Custom Match, but you get to edit the order of the tracks in the setlist and choose if it is against a random opponent or someone on your friends list.
Unfortunately there is no story mode to participate in, which I think is something that is missing from DJ Hero. They could have included a story of an up and coming DJ working his/her way from the trenches to become a mainstream DJ loved by all. This would have been a nice addition, but there is no such thing. What we do have in place of a story mode is a bunch of different track lists. These lists are either themes like Party Rockin’ & Hip Hop Rules, DJ specific lists for the playable DJ’s like Daft Punk & DJ AM, Custom Setlists, and any downloadable packs you have downloaded. Working your way through each of the themed set lists will unlock more set lists and plenty of unlockable customizations for your DJ. Aside from unlocking more songs there are no other obtainable goals to give the gameplay the added edge that is somewhat lacking from this game.
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