If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Right from the start I can tell you that if you liked the first DJ HERO then you should probably pick up the sequel. The game features the same elements that made the first one such a hit while adding new freestyle sections, a finely tuned battle mode, and online competitive multiplayer with leader boards, tags, badges and rankings. It's a complete package with amazing music and a lot of fun. But that's not to say it doesn't have it's problem.
The gameplay is the same as last year. You use a DJ turntable controller to tap out notes on the turn table as they appear on screen and move to the "hit zone". It's the same rhythm game motif you've know for a while. The tweak is that there are only three notes, but there's also a crossfader, making the player move from one track to the other. There's also scratching, spinning the turntable for a rewind effect, an fx nob for adding flair to certain sections, and the euphoria button, which doubles your score multiplier for a limited time. As you go one the songs get more intense and demanding working off some real essential DJ skills. I've been a DJ for ten years, and I can tell you that some of the beat juggling moments are as intense as they can be in real life. It's very fun, but very chaotic... in a good way.
The main meat of the game is in it's new EMPIRE MODE, where you pick one of several new DJs, grab a logo and move around the world creating your DJ Empire and building your reputation. The only reason you know this is what's happening is that it pretty much tells you that. There's no cut scene to let you know your progress. Your character just moves from club to club, each becoming more elaborate and insane as you go. The visuals here are great. The clubs feel unique and exciting and the club goers are all hyped when you hit a major combo or go into euphoria mode. There isn't quite enough life in the clubs for my taste, but with how little you'll actually be looking at the visuals it doesn't matter. The great part here is the music.
As you go through the Empire Mode you'll be forced to battle the DJs from the first game and real professional DJs like Tiesto, QBert and Deadmaus in order to unlock them and their new outfits. The new battle mode features a point system that more closely resembles how DJs battle in real life. Songs are broken up into sections. When each section ends the player who did the best gets a point. This allows for some really close matches and makes the game feel more like STREET FIGHTER. First to so many points wins. This allows a player to make a mistake and then make up for it and come back. It adds tension and skill. The only version of this features a ranking system much like STREET FIGHTER or CALL OF DUTY. The better you do the more tags and badges you unlock, letting everyone know how good you are.
Also a new addition to the game are megamixes that you unlock as you play. DJ HERO 1 had players playing three or so songs per set list. Now in some cases those songs are mixed together like a real DJ would do. One song moves right into the next giving you a total score at the end of all three songs, rather than per song. It's a great touch and feels more like real DJing.
DJ HERO 2 lacks any kind of customizable character creation. This is a standard element in most games, and being able to make a DJ that resembles yourself isn't even an option. GUITAR HERO, while staying with it's franchise staples, still allows you to create a unique character. Why DJ HERO is lacking this option is beyond me. The roster of DJs, both made up and real is pretty good, but I didn't find one that matched my style or looked like I do when I go out and DJ. The closest you can come is to play using your Avatar from Xbox Live. But this is one of the few complaints I have. With the huge amount of respect I have for Deadmau5, he being one of my personal heroes, I find myself playing as him most of the time anyway.
The only other major complaint I have with the game is that there's no importation of the DJ HERO 1 roster of tracks. Some of those songs and the DLC are really quite amazing and having to move back and forth between discs can be a hassle and break up the flow of play. Also the new microphone implementation is almost completely pointless. It features no real use since most of the songs are cut up, chopped up, remixed and scratched to the point that anyone who might know a song in the game couldn't sing or rap along without something cutting them off. Even the Lady Gaga tracks are unrecognizable at times. A good effort, but almost totally worthless.
The developers over at FREESTYLE GAMES have really improved upon what they did in the first DJ HERO. They've managed to make a game that's incredibly fun to play, fine tunes the DJ experience and adds new elements that simulate DJing more closely. The smart choice of leaving the DJ controller alone was brilliant. Players who invested in the first game only need to pick up the disc rather than a whole new set up, though the party pack I have is still quite nice.
DJ HERO 2 is a solid party game and features gameplay for all types of players. Whether you're casual, a music lover, a competitive player or a rhythm game master, there's something in DJ HERO 2 for all of you. It's replay value is very high making it a must buy.
9.0 out of 10.