Product Type: Activision Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... play list of '93 Original Mixes' does contain some decent songs, songs which I will play and often find myself uncontrollably nodding my h... more
Do you want to spend £90 for a game which is unique and different, but won't last forever?
DJ Hero (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Stunt 101
DJ Hero (Xbox 360)
Advantages: It's an exciting new, completely different Rhythm game.
Disadvantages: Quite expensive and considering it's value for money, it's arguably overpriced.
With the music genre becoming overcrowded in 2009, it was going to take something special to be stand-out. The Beatles: Rock Band stood out with its unique visual style, fantastic music and dedication to being a great Beatles tribute, while Guitar Hero 5 made it easier on the party with Party play and other features to make it more accessible. Coming from Freestyle games, DJ Hero, a spin-off of the Guitar Hero series, brings a new instrument to the table and makes an impression, but does it stand out or should Activision have stuck with the Guitar Hero franchise?
DJ Hero comes with one bundle, considering it's the first of its kind and doesn't really work with other instruments. What you do get is a brand new music controller. This DJ deck, considering it's the first of its kind, is well built. It's comprised of three buttons on the spinning disc, a crossfade bar and several buttons resembling the buttons on a standard Xbox 360 controller. Its wireless, which is great, but obviously it eats through batteries especially at long parties. The controller responds for the most part, however spinning the deck in a circle will result in losing your combo for some reason, and the crossfade bar can be somewhat finicky.
DJ Hero's gamely is essentially like the Guitar Hero franchise. A highway comes down the screen and you must hit the notes. Notes gain points, and as you hit successive notes, a multiplier begins to form, eventually up to a 4X multiplier. There's also the element of Euphoria, which is basically DJ talk for Star Power, which doubles your multiplier and also happens to automatically cross the crossfader for you, which is good for heavy crossfade situations on Expert but can cause confusion as if the note is on the far right, but your crossfader is not, you will mess up. The other key difference between Guitar Hero and DJ Hero is that you can't fail on DJ Hero, instead if you mess up badly, you can get 1 and 2 star performances, which in essence is like real DJ playing because bad mixes wouldn't get you booed off the stage like a bad performance from a rock band.
The difficulty level is similar to the Guitar hero franchise where you have beginner, easy, medium, hard and expert. Beginner and easy definitely help anyone gradually learn the ropes of this new Rhythm game, but much like Guitar Hero, the jump from Medium to hard becomes incredibly steep. If you check out some youtube videos for DJ Hero on expert, you'll see how much skill it requires to do well on DJ hero, and even though I was experienced with Guitar Hero on Expert, I struggled with some songs on DJ Hero on hard. However, anyone with experience with the higher difficulties of Guitar Hero could probably jump into easy or medium as you should be used to the speed of rhythm games, if not then maybe you won't.
The game here works well, especially with a very good instrument peripheral. Of course DJ Hero needs a strong soundtrack to back up the game, and it's a diverse, interesting and, most importantly, fun tracklist of 93 original mixes created by many, including Grandmaster Flash, Scratch Perverts and DJ Jazzy Jeff. Songs like Queen's We Will Rock You, 2Pac's All Eyes on Me and N.E.R.D.'s Lapdance collide. Each mix feels natural and are enjoyable to play and on top of that there are also a couple of unique songs created by the contributing DJ's like Grandmaster Flash's Boom Boom Tap which tests you skills with the buttons only. There's a nice balance of different genres with rock, rap, and more.
The game definitely succeeds on the graphics front with a strong sense of being at one of these Clubs which the game is set. Dazzling lighting effects and special lasers, as well as special dancers in the background and extravagant stage designs appeal on the eyes watching in the background. Characters look nicely detailed with some good alternative outfits too which fit in with the style of previous Guitar Hero games in that they're like cartoon characters and fitting to the genre. Sadly there's no create-a-character mode here so what you see is what you get. Some may find using guest characters like Grandmaster Flash, DJ Shadow and Daft Punk to be enough for them. Of course, with the crazy note charts, you probably won't notice these nice visual touches.
The problem, unfortunately, with DJ Hero, is that it feels like it's going back to square one with modes and features. Recent Guitar Hero games have featured fully featured career modes with challenges like whammy for 30 seconds during the song. DJ Hero doesn't feature that, as its career mode is a back-to-basics run though the songs, earning stars to unlock characters, decks and more. It's nice that the setlist wasn't necessarily ordered in difficulty with setlists ordered around, say, rap songs but the game's 'career' isn't that interesting. It's not really a career anyway, thanks to a weird menu layout which simply puts the setlists rather than a link to any career mode. Some mixes repeat too, though for some other reason, playing a mix once means you've already played it in another setlist it asks the question why the mix was included twice in the first place.
There are also the disappointing setups for quickplay and online play. Most games go into a menu for quickplay and you can make quite large setlists. However, on DJ Hero the 'quicklist' feature requires you to select songs (only up to eight) then once you've finished that set, deselect all the songs you've played before and replace them if you wish to play different songs. It's very cumbersome. This same method applies to Xbox Live, where you can play through the sets on the 'career' and your quicklists online. If you host, it's your songs only whereas joining a game means you're forced to play someone elses music. It is a bit bare bones with no co-op except in the form of playing guitar on certain 'rock' songs which feature guitar like a mix featuring 'Ace of Spades'. It's not very interesting and only a handful of songs feature guitar.
All of these light modes add up to a fairly bare-bones experience. There's promise of more DLC incoming, but when you consider the last pack of DLC came during last November, this promise looks to be a bit thin. It's this which makes the £90 charge for DJ Hero seem much steeper. It's a good £30 more than other single-instrument games and double the price of a retail game for what kind of feels like only half the content. It's this single factor which will make you either buy or not buy DJ Hero. It all depends if you want the experience of DJ Hero because while it is light on modes, it's a new Rhythm experience that is different from countless Guitar Hero games.
Is DJ Hero good, bad or ugly?
The music genre has been recently oversaturated with Guitar Hero, Rock Band and other Rhythm games, so DJ Hero comes out at a time where you probably won't care. DJ Hero is a new frontier on the Rhythm genre with its unique new instrument peripheral, and it's quite a fun one though with only two players at a time, not as widespread as Guitar Hero. It also is an expensive one, as it's double the price of retail games for, really, not a whole lot of interesting content to back up this new gameplay. So it comes down to this-do you want to spend £90 for a game which is unique and different, but won't last forever? You may find fun out of getting better at the game, but if you're looking for the ultimate party-starter, seek out Guitar Hero 5 or Rock Band 2.
DJ Hero was released on October 30th, 2009 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation 2 and Wii. It is rated 12+ for language and can be bought for £90. Because it's first of it's kind, there is no single bundle.
Summary: Something different from all the Guitar Hero games, but expensive.
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