Review

DJ Hero Review (PS3)

Itís one thing to offer unsure consumers a guitar to play. It took a few years for many of us to realize just how fun Guitar Hero was, and to come and appreciate it. DJ Hero embarks on that same quest, and we think it succeeds pretty well. Thankfully (for Activision), theyíre in for the long haul.

From FreeStyleGames and Activision comes DJ Hero, with its own exclusive controller and songlist. While Harmonix put out The Beatles Rock Band, a historical detailing of the bandís legacy, Activision set itself to put out four new music titles: Guitar Hero 5, DJ Hero, Band Hero, and Guitar Hero Van Halen. Out of all of these, DJ Hero succeeds almost without measure.


This is what you play on. The turntable is fun to play, and hard on the hand.
Meanwhile, you're selected character will be playing a full, giant turntable onscreen. Fair, right?

It does this in a few ways. First, the gameplay is unique and itís difficult. Both hands are required, and not just one pushing one button. Right handed players will scratch and button press with their preferred appendage while their left hand is in charge of changing sounds, activating ďeuphoriaĒ, the gameís star power, and switching between the two tracks playing together. One hand may be dominant during gameplay, but coordination is required tenfold compared to Guitar Hero.

Second, the music is unique, and everyone will find a bunch of remixes that they like. Whether you like classic rock, hip hop, or some of todayís top hits, there are 93 individual and unique tracks to play, most spliced together from two different songs. Some of the choices may not be to your liking, but some will make you wish youíd thought of it. Others are so brilliant, you know why you didnít.

However, if thereís anything to really notice about DJ Hero besides the controller, itís the introductory video. Compared to previous Guitar Hero titles, it looks like a cinematic from a high-budget Hollywood film, like Pixar at its best. The score for it may not be the greatest, but itís easily the best videogame opening video weíve seen this year.

Gameplay is familiar to that of Guitar Hero or Rock Band: notes come down the ďfretboardĒ for you to hit. Whatís different is that the DJ Hero controller, the turntable, is that it only has three buttons to hit notes. A crossfader bar can be moved to one of three positions, depending on where the streams indicate (ie. move to the left if the line does so). The general principle is the same, with the exception of scratching.

There are several different types of scratching, but only one form appears for players on the easy or medium difficulty settings, which is straight scratching. That means going back and forth, at any pace, though Iíve found it almost impossible to go at a pace separate from the music without messing up my own pace. On harder difficulties, scratching can also be directional, meaning there may be indicators to scratch in only one direction.


Some songs are fairly easy, and require little more than good timing and steady fingerwork.
Others are a bit more challenging. Then again, this is nothing compared to harder difficulties.

Thanks to the work from FreeStyleGames, itís all about the gameplay, and not about getting the highest score or making sure you donít fail out. Thereís no fan-bar indicating how well youíre doing, though there are still stars awarded based on your score at the end of the song. Several unique gameplay attributes are very likeable though, the first of which being rewind. After hitting 40 consecutive notes, an indicator will flash and by spinning the turntable around once, the song will literally rewind up to ten seconds back for you to replay the section to earn more points. Likewise, the score multiplier doubles for a short period.

Euphoria is also different from star power in that once you gain euphoria, you can use it immediately. Players can choose to store it, but because of the amount of score multipliers available in most songs, doing so may not be wise. The final score multiplier is not collectable, but rather found in songs where the sound becomes adjustable, and doing so temporarily doubles the multiplier.

All of these opportunities to double the score multiplier lead DJ Hero into its first fault, not allowing players to combine multipliers. Realistically, it should be possible to get a multiplier of 32x, but it isnít. If you have a 4x multiplier and activate euphoria and rewind, it only doubles once, not twice. This is extremely inefficient, because it forces players to choose between which to activate and which to hold onto, and on harder difficulties where there are so many more notes, players will want to rewind as much as possible to attain the highest score. Without cross-score multipliers, these bonuses are highly devalued.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for DJ Hero is simply the change of pace. It isnít Guitar Hero, and it isnít really anything else. Itís new, untested, and just slowly putting its feet in the water. In my gameplay, I was impressed with the graphic quality of the DJís and some characters onscreen, as well as the different venues, but the audience is awfully rendered. Sound quality is top notch, as expected, and the animations are done well enough to want to watch the action onscreen instead of hitting the notes.

Likewise, the controller is simply odd. Wired on the 360 and Wireless on the PS3 (with a USB dongle), the Turntable is almost as fun to spin on its nearly frictionless board as it is to use, though it is remarkably hard on the hand scratching. Unlike Guitar Hero which forces players to pick up some muscle, much of the scratching action requires quick, hard motions which feel stressful on the hand. As I type this, my right hand continues to bother me slightly on the back of my hand, thanks to the scratching.


Challenge a friend at home or online to a DJ match so see who's boss.
Or if they've got a guitar, have them play along as backup. That'll show them!

There are multiplayer options for DJ Hero as well, both competitive and cooperative, for turntable and guitar controllers. Playing the guitar on DJ Hero is more of a nicety than anything else, and much like Guitar Hero the competitive modes are extremely fun and entertaining, but meant for more hardcore players.

DJ Hero is new, and therefore scary for many customers. Thatís understandable. Iíve played it for the last week on both the Xbox 360 and PS3, and I can say without a doubt that like Guitar Hero, it has an appeal to it that cannot be denied. Gameplay is there, the soundtrack is there, and the pieces fall together well. Whether you see yourself playing with a turntable controller or not is up to you, though chances are if youíre unsure, youíll find yourself trying it out at a party or friendís house very soon.

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Comments

By stuntkid (SI Elite) on Dec 07, 2009
stuntkid
Hmmm not too sure