Review: DJ Hero 2

Mix and mash-up your way to global DJ domination in DJ Hero 2, the extended dance remix of FreeStyle Game's original turntable title.

DJ Hero was an entertaining alternative to standard rhythm games. Rather than a full set of band instruments, players took control of a plastic turntable, mixing, tweaking, and scratching their way through mash-ups of popular songs from some of the world's greatest DJs. The game was fun to play, but lacked the social attraction of its big band brothers. Does DJ Hero 2 mix in some much-needed excitement, or is it simply a remix of the first game?


Ideal Player

The type of gamer that considers consoles an appropriate centerpiece for social gatherings; anyone who enjoys two different songs smushed together into one.

Why You Should Care

The original DJ Hero was a solid experience that lacked the multiplayer punch of big band rhythm games Guitar Hero and Rock Band. DJ Hero 2 aims to create a compelling social experience, and to a point it succeeds.


So what's changed between DJ Hero and DJ Hero 2? DJ Hero was strong mechanically, but it was lacking in two areas: single player story and multiplayer variety. Single player was a series of set lists, and multiplayer was nothing more than two players performing the tracks together. Now there's a single player Empire Mode, which sees your DJ running through a series of cities, performing sets and battling rivals on the road to DJ domination. It's not much more than a series of set lists, but it's something.


DJ Hero 2 includes real world performers like Deadmau5, RZA, David Guetta, DJ Qbert and Tiesto


And how has the multiplayer evolved? Multiplayer has seen the biggest changes between versions. Now playing against another DJ is an actual battle. One mode has songs separated out into multiple checkpoints, with each player trying to score the most points per checkpoint. Another mode has players banking their note streaks, with a limited number of banks available to build up the highest number of points. Winning is glorious. Losing is humiliating. Playing online battles earns you ranks and titles, so you can display your dominance. This is what a DJ battle should be.

Didn't they add singing too? They got rid of the useless guitar from DJ Hero, and replaced it with useless singing in DJ Hero 2. When a DJ mashes up two songs together, they generally screw the vocals beyond recognition. My singing co-player couldn't keep up. Set lists often contain tracks without vocals as well, causing the singer to just sit there complaining while you're trying to play. Not fun.


And what about the music? Music is a personal thing. I loved Snow's "Informer" mixed with The Jackson 5's "ABC." You may not. There's a fairly good amount of variety among the game's 83 mash-ups, and there doesn't seem to be nearly as much repetition of songs as there was in the first game.


DJ Hero 2 In Action

The Bottom Line

DJ Hero 2 expands on the gameplay of the original without breaking anything, and fixes its predecessor's fatal flaw with the addition of a crucial competitive aspect. It's everything a DJ Hero fan could ask for in a sequel. The unfamiliar control method might still keep it from reaching the popularity of its full band big brothers, but as far as turntable-based gaming is concerned, DJ Hero 2 has no equal.


DJ Hero 2 was developed by FreeStyleGames and published by Activision for the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360, released on October 19. Retails for USD$59.99 for game alone, $99.99 for game with one turntable, and $149.99 for game with two turntables and a microphone. A copy of the game's party bundle was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through the game's Empire Mode on medium, earning five stars on each track. Played multiple games with aid of a backup singer. Reached rank five in online competitive play.

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