DJ Hero 2
20th Oct 2010 | 09:14
Just like a real DJ, the sequel to FreeStyleGame's DJ Hero has a tricky task keeping everyone in the room entertained.
Last year's game was accused of being too Hip-Hop focused, and so it's introduced a more European flair with House and Techno DJs taking the spotlight. Our review of the original game also criticised the lack of dynamic mixing, and so FreeStyle's come up with Freestyle mix elements.
Overall it's clear that the UK studio knows exactly where it needed to spit and polish the original DJ Hero, and bar a few uncertain additions it's managed to improve the sequel both technically and structurally - it's a far sweeter mix.
DJ SAVED MY LIFE
Another moan you could throw at last year's debut was that it felt like an overly single-player-focused experience. Although the developer's taken a big leap with its social offerings (more on that in a second), the solo game's been made even better in the follow-up with the introduction of Empire Mode.
Empire attempts to make you actually feel a bit like your favourite superstar record spinner by having you progress through various clubs in European cities, playing out set lists, battling against rivals DJs and doing groupies (we made one of those up).
Actually playing 'sets' with back to back tunes properly mixed is a welcome change of pace. DJ Hero 2's set list is near faultless and thankfully, a lot less Hip-Hop obsessed (though there's still plenty in there for you Dr. Dre lovers).
Through its menus, solo game and cast of real and fictional characters, DJH2 feels a lot more mass-market - on both continents. Electronic DJs David Guetta and Tiesto front the bill while more familiar household names Kanye West and Dizzee Rascal prop up the other end alongside the odd Metallica and Stevie Wonder track. It's hard to deny this is the best set list in gaming.
The whole club experience is brilliantly presented and seeing your own adopted DJ logo crop up on banners and walls as you progress is a small thrill, though ultimately this mode could've offered a lot more freedom and choice that it currently does (no design a DJ option?)
DJ Hero 2's biggest and best features though are the freestyle elements, which include freestyle scratching strips which occasionally appear in a track, giving you the opportunity to go at it with the deck and create your unique noise.
Even better is freestyle sampling, which allows you to play various samples taken from the track in any fashion you wish (samples are now properly embedded into remixes).
The final freestyle element comes with crossfade. Certain sections allow you to manually fade between two tracks in the mix, and your custom 'mix' will later be rated based on rhythm and beat.
Crossfade sections are awesome - especially in multiplayer when you can snatch control of the mix from your opponent. More of this in the next game, please.
The sequel's secret weapon however is its multiplayer modes, which include standard competitive games such as DJ Battle plus hidden gems like the truly excellent Accumulator Mode, which has two players competing simultaneously through a mix trying to 'bank' the highest streak.
For example, if player two manages to string together a streak of 17, you'll then have to build up a bigger one and 'bank' it with the euphoria button.
The twist is that you're only granted a certain number of banking moves, so if - like we did - you use all yours up, you'll have to hold a gigantic streak right until the end of the mix.
It's early days, but so far DJ Hero 2's social games have provided us with some of the most satisfying multiplayer bouts since the Hero games began.
There's tons of fun to be had with a second DJ Hero controller, and we'd recommend taking a look at the gigantic two-deck bundle if you've got other wannabe spinsters in the house.
DJ Hero 2 isn't perfect - the option to hook up a mic and sing over the tracks, for example, feels out of place and Empire could definitely be improved - but it's otherwise a genuine improvement on a solid debut. Judged on this performance, we can't see this series going anywhere but up.