Hear What You Want To


The introduction of a music game that didn't revolve around plastic guitars was a big deal, and DJ Hero found its audience quickly. The followup is here, and we're happy to report that DJ Hero 2 is bigger and badder. It's fun to see a game that packages the craft of a DJ so faithfully, even if this means that average joes like yours truly have to look like an idiot at the 'tables. The interesting thing about our experience with DJ Hero 2 was that it allows for complete newbies to grab the 'mic or get on a turntable, and sound reasonably good. This continues as a theme throughout the game, catering to people that really like the social aspects of gameplay and are just as likely to have DJ Hero 2 running during a party as to play it solo or with just one friend. If there ever were a party-ready music game, this is it!

New features for this release include better support for singers, trading melodic lyrics for rhythmically precise rap. There is now a freestyle scratch and fade option, and the samples used are drawn directly from the source material. The improvements in output, just by tweaking these samples, turn out to be huge. The scoring for each player has been simplified, showing up as a sort of "totem pole" with colored bars in the middle of the screen, to let you know where you stand. There are always ways to steal breaks away from the other DJ, if you act quickly enough. If all this is starting to sound more like an action game, it's always possible to kick back into the Party Mode and let tracks play on the fly. Multiplayer can be customized quickly and easily, even from within a song in progress, if you want to adjust the difficulty level.

The selection of songs we heard was great, and this will be a huge factor in how DJ Hero 2 is received. The game supports only one microphone, but can support two turntables, for local battles. There are over 100 songs licensed, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 that are firmed up for the game. Singing well will earn you credits that can be cashed in on virtual spaces in the game, where you can play, socialize, or just chill out. When you feel motivated, you can pursue a type of career mode, called Empire, that lets DJs compete to "own" one of about 10 locations where they can strut their stuff. Celebrity DJs will play a role in DJ Hero 2, but we didn't see more than deadmau5 up on the screen. Our hands-on play with the game confirmed that the new features (custom fades, scratches) are intuitive, and we look forward to having at least one of these turntable units planted in our living room, later this year.

DJ Hero 2