When I initially heard about DJ Hero I was excited because it sounded like it could be a great game if it was done right. Fortuntely, it was done right and Activision has given us a great new game that is a breath of fresh air in the music and rhythm genre. DJ Hero is a celebration of DJ culture and all of the “battles” that take place in clubs worldwide. DJ Hero features 93 original mixes from artists such as Jazy-Z, Eminem, Gorillaz, DJ Shadow and many more. Not every song is available in the beginning though. As you play through mixes and earn stars you will begin to unlock various items such as new mixes, new DJ’s, new outfits for your DJ’s plus much more.
Since this is a brand new title with a brand new way of playing there is, of course, a new piece of hardware that goes along with it. The turntable, for the most part, is very well designed and I was able to get used to the controls fairly quickly. The only thing that I would really change is the crossfader. It feels kind of cheap and there isn’t enough resistance on it to help you feel where it is. There are three positions for the cross fader: in the middle, on the left and on the right. The central position is neutral and then you move the cross fader left and right as you are prompted to do so throughout the song. The problem is that once you have to move it back to the center there really isn’t anything there to indicate that you are in the center making it very easy to go all the way to the other side unintentionally, thereby costing you your multiplier bonus. This will be especially true as you attempt to play mixes on hard and expert where it will be much easier to make this mistake in the heat of battle, so to speak. If they had come up with a way to provide more resistance so players couldn’t over shoot the middle spot it would have helped out greatly. With that being said it really is my only complaint about the game. The turn table itself is nicely done and you can detach the two sections of the controller to set it up how you want it depending on if you are right or left handed.
You still have star power in this game like in Guitar Hero titles, however, in this game it is called Euphoria. In Guitar Hero games you had to lift your guitar to activate star power where here you simply have to push a button on the turn table controller. The button is right by the crossfader and glows when Euphoria is ready so it is pretty easy to activate it whenever you see fit. There is also a great new “rewind” feature. Basically what this allows you to do is rewind a track back one section so that you can replay it and get a higher score. The way you accomplish this is that you spin the turntable “backwards” once and then the scrolling notes on the screen go back so you can play the most recent section. It’s a great way to build up your points and a fun little addition to the gameplay. It is just like Euphoria in that you can’t always use it. You have to wait until you build up enough of a streak and then you can turn back the clock. One of my favorite things to do was when I had a really long note that I had to hold down I would quickly rewind after I was done so I could do it again and get a really big point bonus. This brings me to one of the other new play mechanics here: scratching. On games like Guitar Hero you would hold down the strum bar for really long notes and watch your points skyrocket. In this title, when you have a really long note, you “scratch” the whole time. Say, for example, you have a long note coming down on the green side. You push the green button at the appropriate time and move the turntable up down while continuing to hold down that green button until the note is over. As you try the higher diffiulties you will be expected to pull off more advanced maneuvers. There will be direction specific arrows thrown at you where you must scratch downward or upward at any given time as well in addition to quick spikes causing your crossfader to be all over the place. I had a lot of fun with it and can definitely see myself getting better with practice. It is important to note that when Euphoria is activated the cross fader will go on autopilot. Theoretically, if you plan everything out correctly, that could really help you get past some of the more tricky parts of a mix. It is going to be one of those mechanics that is easy to learn yet hard to master. One important thing to mention is that you can’t fail in the game. If you are performing poorly the sound will cut out and your star count will be lower but that is it. This was actually a really great idea, especially for players who might not be good enough to get through a particular song. Instead of being frustrated by having to continually restart the song they can simply play through the entire thing.
As you scroll through the menus you will see that there is the familiar quick play feature, XBox Live and things of that nature. There is no “career” option to choose from, however, all of the different mixes are presented to you in the menu. The more you play and the more stars you earn the more mixes will become unlocked. You have standard mixes such as “Cut & Paste” “Thrashed & Mashed” and things of that nature along with DJ specific mixes such as “Jay-Z Mixtape,” “DJ Jazzy Jeff Presents,” “Daft Punk Record Bag,” “DJ Shadow Presents” and many more. You will also have any downloadable content you have featured here as well. Of course multiplayer is also an important aspect to this title as well. In my time spent with the multiplayer of this game it was completely lag free, which is important for a music game that requires precise timing. There is even a special option for XBox Live Party sessions. Online you have the standard player and ranked matches along with the option to create a game yourself as well as creating a private game and then inviting a friend to play.
Overall, DJ Hero is a fantastic game and one I highly recommend. The track listing is phenomenal and could be sold as a standalone soundtrack. Much like Guitar Hero and Activision did back on the Playstation 2, DJ Hero has innovated and breathed new life into the music scene. They have delivered not only the next great party game but a game that is just as much fun playing by yourself at home. Hopefully this title will be well supported with downloadable content and new mixes for everyone to try out and enjoy. In a time where everyone is running out of room to store all of their plastic instruments, you will want to be sure to reserve some space for this turntable. DJ Hero is an exciting new addition to the scene and one you won’t want to miss out on.