How do you follow on from one of the more innovative new music games in the last 12 months?
Most developers would try to add a few new and exciting features to ‘expand’ on the success they’ve achieved already, or bust out a new flashy peripheral with a celebrity endorsement. All too often they take the IP in completely the wrong direction, then end up backtracking in the third release.
Well, not FreeStyleGames. Thankfully they've had the sense to understand what made DJ Hero such a hit and the areas where things didn’t quite gel, then spit and polish them to release an even better product. Granted, they do introduce microphone compatibility and several new multiplayer modes – with some success, but ultimately everything combines to create something that will no doubt be very hard to beat next time around.
As Beck once said in his monotonous, nasally drone – “I got two turntables and a microphone”, and that’s “where it’s at” when it comes to multiplayer in DJ Hero 2. Obviously you don’t get two turntable peripherals in your pack, and the one you do get is identical to the original anyway, and you don’t get a microphone either funnily enough, but any Guitar Hero/Band Hero mic will suffice.
So you’ll need a friend with their own turntable controller (online or off) – after which you can indulge in various forms of DJ Battles and drop in/drop out Party Mode. If someone is game enough then they can pick up the microphone and try to keep up with the lyrics, but when you get mixes such as Busta Rhymes’ ‘Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See’ vs ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain, keeping up with the ever changing lyrics is a task even Scribe would struggle with, and that’s just two out of the 95 thumping tracks available in the game.
I personally found it hard to keep up, even with the tracks in which I knew most of the lyrics, and when someone is making a hash of the singing, it’s very hard to concentrate on the actual mixing/scratching and fading of the tracks themselves. I found it quite distracting, much like in Band Hero or Rockband when one of your band mates is failing dismally and you just can’t help but watch their screen.
Anyway, I’m sure many of you possess far better concentration and turntable skills than I do and will make the most of what the new vocals feature has to offer.
Another new feature is Empire Mode – in where you begin as an up and coming DJ talent, working the clubs and gaining a reputation in the industry. Before too long you can gain enough popularity to be in control of a network of clubs and have a stable of several big named superstars at your beck and call. So essentially it’s a career mode, but not a particularly inspired one. The series definitely needed one to be included, and it’s nice to have it there as an option, but in all honesty it’s not a feature that should convince you to purchase the game. You will buy it for the music, for the Party Modes and to show off your mixing skills to all and sundry – the Empire Mode is not much more than a bonus extra.
A growing trend with games at present is the ability to have scores and accomplishments posted to all your friends for them to challenge, or simply for bragging rights. DJ Hero 2 joins the bandwagon with Hero Feed, which allows you to follow your friend’s achievements whether they’re online or off.
Ultimately, all you want to know is whether DJ Hero 2 is better than the original (which was by all accounts a fantastic game) and if you should buy it. Quite simply, the answer to both is, as the mighty Flavor Flav would say… YEEEAAHHH BOYEEEE!! [please don't do that again - Ed.]
It’s a much tighter experience than the original and the huge track listing (which you can view on Mighty Ape here) is worth the cover price alone.