November 17, 2009

DJ Hero - Xbox 360

Overall Rating: 8.3
Genre: Music/Party
Release: October 2009
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Average Cost: $129.99 Standard Edition, $199.99 Renegade Edition

The music gaming genre has exploded over the past few years with each title adding to the genre with the addition of new instruments and over a dozen new games. DJ Hero brings a brand new element to this genre with the introduction of the turntable controller that provides a new and exciting innovation. This game allows you to tap and scratch some of the best beats you will ever play as you make your way through over 90 songs mixed together by some of the top DJ’s in the world.

Presentation (8)

The graphics for DJ Hero are exactly what I expected to see in a music title where the focus is more geared on the sound and the gameplay rather than sporting high quality graphics.

With that in mind the graphics are well done and have been polished to create a slick club feel to the game. There are a total of nine venues that you perform your shows at and they range from dance clubs, subways, a mansion and even Times Square. Each venue has a crowd that is dancing and cheering to each of the tracks and a bit of a show with some dancers on the stage, but you don’t really notice them while you are focused on completing your song.

It is more likely that you will notice your character than the background of each venue as they are much more detailed and boast quite a few DJ celebrities. The stock characters you start off with are Jugglernort, DJ Kid Itch, Cleetus Cuts, and Candy Nova. There are thirteen more DJ’s that can be unlocked as you complete songs and earn stars based on how well you perform. Most of the unlockable DJ’s are artists that include the late DJ AM, DJ Shadow, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Daft Punk, DJ Z-Trip and Grandmaster Flash.

Without great music any music game is likely to disappoint and inevitably fail. DJ Hero does not disappoint and features a great variety of over 100 original songs and a whopping 93 original mixes.

With a lot of music games there is a bound to be a few tracks that you do not especially enjoy, however, I can honestly say that there is not a single track that disappointed me and I enjoyed the mixes that DJ Hero brought to my ears. The song selection spans the decades and includes a lot of my favourite artists like the Beasties Boys, Jay Z, Daft Punk, Benny Bennassi, Foo Fighters, Queen and Weezer. If you would like to see the full list check it out at

Gameplay (9)

The whole point of DJ Hero is to simulate the usage of a turntable and uses the gameplay model of Guitar Hero. The controller looks like a turntable and has three buttons that are blue, red and green. There is also a special effects dial, a crossfader and a “Euphoria” button (which is used to double your multiplier). Along with the great design of the controller you are also able to detach the two halves of the controller to set it up for left handed players so they can use it as naturally as possible.

The two buttons on the turntable to the left and right represent the two songs that you are mixing together, where the middle button represents the samples that you add in to the mix that can be adjusted by the effects dial. Mixing in the songs is either performed by tapping the corresponding button, or when you see the scratch symbol you hold down the button and move the turntable back and forth to scratch in the music until it is finished.
All of the DJ controls are learned through two tutorials called Learn to DJ – Basics, and Learn to DJ – Advanced, with both being narrated by Grandmaster Flash. The advanced controls mainly apply to the Hard and Expert difficulties, so don’t worry about those techniques until you have mastered the Medium difficulty.

Local co-op play is either done DJ to DJ, where you would need two turntable controllers to go head to head play or with a guitar controller. Fans of the guitar will be happy to know that you can join in on 10 songs with a guitar for co-op play or if you just prefer the guitar you can play the select DJ/Guitar songs solo as well.

There is also online play through Xbox Live where you play in a Quick Match, jumping into the first available game and Custom Match where you select one of the themed setlists to play out against an online opponent. There is also Create Game and Create Private Game which is similar to Custom Match, but you get to edit the order of the tracks in the setlist and get to choose if it is against a random opponent or someone on your friends list.

Recreational Rating (8)

DJ Hero is a lot of fun when it gets down to it with the unique remixes, the DJ/Guitar songs for an easy way to get your friends playing and online multiplayer options to put your DJ skills to the ultimate test. Unfortunately there is no story mode to participate in, which I think is something that is missing from DJ Hero. A story of an up and coming DJ working his way from the trenches to become the DJ Hero would have been a nice addition, but what we do have is a bunch of different track lists of themes like Party Rockin’ & Hip Hop Rules, DJ specific lists for the playable DJ’s like Daft Punk & DJ AM, Custom Setlists and any downloadable packs you have downloaded. Working your way through each of the themed set lists will unlock more set lists and plenty of unlockable customizations for your DJ. Aside from unlocking more songs there are no other obtainable goals to give the game the added edge that is somewhat lacking from this title.

Buy It - Try It - Forget It

Where the game lacks in story mode or additional objectives, the game makes up for it in the uniqueness of the gameplay with the turntable controller and the greater variety of song genres included. Being an avid music genre player, DJ Hero was a must have for my collection and gamers like me who couldn’t get enough of titles like Guitar Hero will likely equally enjoy the game. The game does have a high price tag though so you may want to try the game out first if you are unsure about it. I had the opportunity to test it out on two previous occasions which solidified my desire to buy it. I hope to see the creators release some follow up titles that make use of the turntable controller in the future to make the most of my investment. In the meantime there has been downloadable content already released and more coming in the future which will help you get more gaming from this title.

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