DJ Hero

DJ Hero is a welcome addition to a genre in desperate need of some new ideas.

By King, Posted 17 Jan 2010

Rhythm games have been quite the mixed bag over the last five years. A little game called Guitar Hero came and introduced a new, innovative way to intertwine music and video games. The sequel then became a huge success and went on to sell millions of copies. Long story short, other game developers noticed the success of these games and went on to flood the market with music games of their own. Now it's impossible to look anywhere without seeing another effortless spin-off game that let's you strum your plastic guitar or bang on digital drum pads. Not to say every music game released is terrible, but the industry is growing very tired of the same old thing. DJ Hero attempts to freshen the genre up one scratch at a time.

DJ Hero Review

Included with the game is the wireless turntable peripheral (pictured above). I'll do my best to explain how the game works. You have the three buttons on top of the turntable which you press as the green, red, and blue notes come down the highway, and you scratch the turntable when instructed to by a longer note icon. The crossfader is used to move to the left, center, or right as shown on screen, then you have the “Euphoria” button ,which functions the same way as star power in Guitar Hero does, and lastly there is the effects dial which can be used to add samples (which for the most part are relatively cheesy) to the mix, and in some cases it is used like a whammy bar.

The controller for the most part is excellently designed. It doesn't feel cheap at all, the standard edition is made out of plastic, but it still manages to keep a high quality feel to it. The gameplay feels right and it can be a blast to bust out some crazy scratches, even if the music doesn't actually correspond with what you're doing. The controller could have been better in a couple of areas though, with one being that it's too difficult to center the crossfader. More than a few times I've over shot and went too far to the left or right. The other is that while you'll be loving the peripheral when you first start, you'll be having second thoughts if you play for more than an hour at a time. The close placement of buttons may lead to some carpal tunnel syndrome.

When you complete the game's opening tutorial you'll be escorted to the main menu where you discover just how simple this game is. From here you can choose quickplay, multiplayer, or a setlist of songs. As you play through the songs you unlock things depending on how many stars you earn. With more stars you get new sets, characters, outfits, and all those extra little things. This bare bones take on the career mode is exciting to me because I miss the days where you play through songs to unlock more songs, rather than messing with things like earning fans. The problem with DJ Hero is that it's too simple.

There's not really any type of career mode here, just some different set lists to play through. It was even more disappointing to find out that I couldn't make the songs locked again to play on a higher difficulty setting, because after I had unlocked everything on medium, there was no way to redo everything on hard or expert. You might as well just go to the quickplay screen and set personal goals for yourself (like getting 4 stars on every 2nd tier song before moving to the third).

An interesting feature in DJ Hero is that you can't fail a song. Instead, you unlock new things strictly depending on how many stars you get on a song. However, this doesn't exactly work out since you will have most likely have unlocked everything on an easier level before you ever get stuck. I like that DJ Hero is trying to be its own game and it doesn't try to copy and paste the entire formula from other rhythm games, but no fail can take away from the sense of achievement that comes from finally getting past that intense moment of a song.

No matter how good the game is, it boils down to how good the songs are. Without good music the game won't be any fun to play. DJ Hero's soundtrack consists of 93 original mixes made exclusively for the game. Artists like The Scratch Perverts, DJ Shadow, DJ Z-Trip, the late DJ AM, PJ Rose and Daft Punk have contributed their work to the game, so the mixes carry an authentic feeling. While it's a matter of personal opinion, I was torn between whether or not I liked DJ Hero's soundtrack. At one point you may be playing DJ Shadow's ”The Organ Donor” vs. Dizzee Rascal's ”Fix Up, Look Sharp” and thinking how ingeniously it was put together, and then you get to Vanilla Ice's “Ice Ice Baby” vs. Paula Abdul's “Straight Up” and realize that some songs just don't work together. Once you get used to the new mixes, most of them are enjoyable to play, although some can get pretty repetitive.

DJ Hero Review

DJ Hero really feels like it has something missing. I hate to keep comparing it to the first Guitar Hero games, but DJ Hero never captivated me and made me feel like I was actually an up-and-coming DJ working my way up to going on tour with Jay-Z, in the same way that Guitar Hero made me feel like I went from rocking shows in my basement to being a legendary rock star. Maybe it's because DJ Hero doesn't even make an attempt at creating any story line, or it could be because of the totally uninspired character and venue design. On paper, these things don't seem like anything that would make a big difference in the game, but the atmosphere of a game can often dictate the connection you feel to it.

As is the case with most rhythm games, DJ Hero isn't going to win any awards for the stunning visual design or technical showcase of graphics. Some of the visual effects like the strobe lights do look pretty nice, and detail in background objects looks decent enough, just don't expect it to be anything eye popping. Then again, when you're eyes are glued to the notes rolling down the highway, you probably won't even have time to notice the extra activity going on. Though it can be a little distracting when one hand is furiously scratching your turntable and the other is quickly crossfading between sections, and you happen to notice DJ Shadow throwing his hands in the air.

There's a multiplayer mode offered in the game, playable both online or off (providing that you bought an extra turntable peripheral or a buddy can bring one over). It's not much though, you simply play through some mixes and see who can get the higher score. Due to the game surprisingly not being that popular, it can be pretty difficult to even find someone to compete against online. We're thankful to have multiplayer available, but it would have been nice to see a variety of modes and maybe some more creative ideas.

Sitting at $120 for the game and turntable, DJ Hero isn't a game you can just go take a chance on and hope you like it. The best advice I could give is to go listen to some of the mixes from the game to see if you like the style of music, and then see if any retailers around you have a demo set up so you can try playing it for yourself. DJ Hero is definitely a fun experience as a music game, but it has a few shortcomings and the soundtrack isn't for everyone. The game is simple, but it should provide a great stepping stone for what we can assume will be a few sequels down the road. Who knows, maybe by DJ Hero 3 we will be able to use all of the individual licensed songs to create our own mixes!

Logan Smithson, Noobfeed

comments powered by Disqus

  • Sure indeed is a new concept but I think $120 is a bit overpriced, or am I worng?

    Posted Jan 17, 2010

  • Definitely a steep price tag, but I can see many people who would think it's worth the price of two games,

    Posted Jan 17, 2010

  • Looks like the game is over price. You can’t play a song in different a difficulty mode if played once, the game doesn't have any career mode, multiplayer isn't vast and most shockingly the game doesn't create a storyline! It's definitely overpriced.

    Posted Jan 17, 2010

  • Actually, you can play a song on a different difficulty, you just aren't rewarded for doing so as there's nothing to unlock.

    Posted Jan 17, 2010

  • Very excellent review I must say, maybe the best I've read on this site yet. The game is a lot of fun though I agree with the points you made. It feels kinda stripped down and there could have been some more there expecially for the price. Keep up these great review and I look forward to reading some more

    Posted Jan 18, 2010

  • Oh and I wanted to ask have you had a chance to play the Renegade edition and if so is it worth the extra money?

    Posted Jan 18, 2010

  • While I haven't actually gotten my hands on the Renegade Edition, I feel like I can safely say it's not worth the extra money. It's $200 total ($80 more) and the new stuff isn't that impressive. You get a CD with some Jay Z and Eminem songs on it, a nice bonus but nothing incredible, and the slightly improved build shouldn't make that much of a difference. The case and stand would be great to have but I would say only the most devoted DJ Hero players should look into it.

    Posted Jan 18, 2010

  • Oooh that is a very spendy game. I wouldn't expect it to be a whole $200. that's almost as much as the console you'll be playing on!!!

    Posted Jan 18, 2010

  • first of all i agree with what you wrote. i think the songs that DJ Hero have doesnt do any justice. Second the formula used is repetitive with the exception that the controller has chaged from guitar to turntable. nd it is overpriced.

    Posted Jan 18, 2010

  • I own the game and I enjoy it more than I have any of the other music games of this sort like Guitar Hero and Rock Band and what not. I'd say it's not for everyone though and I think your score is fitting.

    That reminds me that I think it would benefit you to use something more in depth than the 5 star rating, but just my personal thoughts.

    Posted Jan 24, 2010
  • avatar 313

    I do like this style of music and I might pick this one up.

    Posted Feb 11, 2010


General Information

DJ Hero


Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher(s): Activision Blizzard
Developer(s): FreeStyleGames
Genres: Music
Themes: Rhythm
Release Date: 2009-10-27

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