|System: X360, PS3, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: FreeStyleGames||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 19, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-3||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Leon Hendrix III
June 10, 2010 - In October of 2009, DJ Hero broke the music genre monotony. On the heels of the release of Guitar Hero 5 in September, the rhythm-based game attracted music fans everywhere by shedding the rock and roll mantle and attracting an entirely new demographic of primarily hip hop and pop fans.
DJ Hero sold nearly 800,000 units within four months and Activision knew it had a hit, with what it called the 'highest grossing new IP of 2009'. By targeting a much younger audience of gamers who aren't so metal savvy, Activision created a new reason to purchase plastic music accessories. With five Guitar Hero games on the market and a sixth in development, a boatload of spin-offs and band-specific games, and even a burgeoning handheld series to manage, Activision has more than enough fingers in the rhythm game pie. Still, the publishing giant has decided to stick in its thumb one more time and with any luck pull out a sweet new plum with DJ Hero 2. We checked out the game at Activision's recent Editor's day.
DJ Hero featured over 100 licensed tracks and 93 original mixes from famous mix masters like DJ AM and Cut Chemist. Part of the game's charm was the super eclectic mix for sounds and sights; artists from Eminem to Blondie provided songs and, in some cases, their likenesses for in-game avatars. The result was a delightfully diverse array of songs for gamers to scratch and spin and a brand new controller with which to carve out a slick beat. DJ Hero 2 will feature all new tracks, including 70 unique mixes, six new game modes, and new artists and DJ's like Lil' Wayne and Chemical Brothers. Developer Freestyle Games is bringing back much of the same gameplay from the first game and focusing on creating a much more social experience for their new sequel. There's a lot of new content for fans of the original to get excited about, but Freestyle is bringing a lot of the old school back for the remix.
The demo was narrated by Jamie Jackson, Creative Director at Freestyle Games for DJ Hero, and nothing has changed about the original control scheme, but that is to be expected. Sporting a giant helmet in the shape of one of the game's brand new DJ avatars, Dead Mau5, Jackson and another Freestyle rep battled it out in one of the games brand new gameplay modes. Unlike its predecessor, DJ Hero brings a brand new edge to multiplayer.
Following its much more social design philosophy, Freestyle is adding full microphone support and an all-new DJ Battle Mode. This brand new, two-player competitive mode is inspired by hip-hop music more than the other primarily dance- or club music-inspired mixes. The battle was furious and looked pretty entertaining, but one of the most interesting features was the revamped Freestyle gameplay. Fans of the original game will recall that Freestyle gameplay allowed you to put your own spin on a song by injecting selected prerecorded segments during set points in the mix. Critics of DJ Hero felt that this was little more than a gimmick, especially since gamers couldn't get extra points for these segments. It amounted to little more than an excuse for gamers to hear random new sounds in the midst of their songs and ultimately, more of a distraction then a necessary gameplay feature.
In DJ Hero 2, Freestyle samples are pulled from mixes along with crossfades and scratches recorded by the pros. Jackson hopes it will add all-new control to players' repertoires. In addition to this freestyle element, DJ Hero boasts a much more robust online mode (all of the multiplayer modes will be available online), though not much was spilled about improvements to online rankings or leaderboards, which were a point of some criticism with the last game. Party Play will be making the jump from Guitar Hero over to DJ Hero 2 and along with the brand new mic support and, presumably, returning guitar support, it could mean a huge boost to DJ Hero 2's already strong multiplayer appeal. Much like the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, a lot of the success of games in the rhythm genre relies on their ability to generate excitement as a group experience. The mix of melodic nostalgia and competitive or team play is a potent combination and it could mean big things if Jackson's team manages to inject more of it into DJ Hero 2.
Multiplayer was the star of the DJ Hero 2 show on our visit to LA, but solo gamers won't necessarily be left out. A brand new Empire mode will allow gamers to experience the journey of an up and coming DJ. There wasn't much more than the company line on this new play mode, but if you want to bet those subway tokens it's probably pretty safe to assume the mode will resemble Guitar Hero's single-player mode. DJ Hero 2 will bring all the flavor of the original and Freestyle's got plans for a whole lot more to keep fans excited. Activision is definitely itchin' for your scratch - stay with us for the review of DJ Hero 2 and find out if they deserve it.
Leon Hendrix III
CCC Freelance Writer