Are you ready to rock? Yes? Well then Rock Band 3 is on the shelf over there. If on the other hand you're looking for some awesome beats, then stick around for DJ Hero 2.
What is it?
DJ Hero 2 is the second in the DJ Hero series developed by UK based studio FreeStyle Games. In this relatively new take on the rhythm game genre, you work to mix two different tracks together into one coherent cut. Tap notes, scratch, crossfade, and trigger samples at appropriate times to not only rack up points but make something sound really cool.
Why Should I Care?
DJ Hero 2 is a lot of fun to play. That is the first and most important point to make. Crossfading and scratching on the turntable controller is a really great experience. Unlike the traditional button taps that we're used to (which are also part of the game) the scratching and fading make you feel more connected to the music you're playing at a deeper level than you have before.
The musical selection of any rhythm game is directly proportional to how much enjoyment you're going to get out of it. DJ Hero 2 has 83 mixes on the disc and a store to buy extra songs. The key though is that these songs are all combinations of other songs. Eminem, Stevie Wonder, Lady GaGa, and LL Cool J are only a handful of the artists that are represented in DJ Hero 2. There is a wide variety of styles here, but all of them would be right at home being played in any of the world's trendiest nightclubs.
What Makes It Worth My Time & Money?
For the asking price of $100, DJ Hero 2 gives you a lot of content for your money. The game has a number of modes for you to play through, including a substantial career mode where you'll eventually go up against some of the world's top DJs. If you want to play the game with friends there are several online modes for you to play, all of which work surprisingly well. If your friends happen to be in the same room, the game supports local multiplayer for up to three players. Two turntables can compete against one another.
New this year are vocal parts, which work very similarly to the way they do in Guitar Hero or Rock Band. If there's one thing to point out as a weakness it would have to be the vocals. Initially the vocals are a bit jarring, since often times you will have to sing parts from both songs. It isn't anything you can't get used to though. It's not that they don't work, they do. It's just that it feels like they were added more to tick a feature box than to improve gameplay.
What does improve the gameplay though are the subtle yet meaningful tweaks that were made to the game mechanics. Freestyle sections have been added, taking the form of free form crossfading sections and free form scratch sections. Freestyle samples have actually been scaled back a bit. You no longer have free choice of a sample set, but instead trigger samples more appropriate to the song you're playing. This kind of a limit is actually a good thing, since you no longer have to hear inappropriate air horns. Finally the way the game registers the fader has been tweaked a bit, so no more accidental fades to the left or right because your slider was slightly off center.
Let's be honest here, there are a lot of music games on the market today. Some of them are good, and others only contribute to the growing saturation of the genre. DJ Hero 2 falls into the first category. It is a great example of what this genre can offer. I highly recommend getting it. If I might ask one question of FreeStyle Games though it's be this: What's with the random gamerscore values? Argh!