Gamers’ bedrooms have gradually become a storage space for plastic instruments, including guitars and drum kits, often gathering dust only to be played when friends come over for a quick blast on a music genre title. It’s hard to believe the Guitar Hero series has only been around since 2007 [on the Xbox360] when you consider the sheer amount of titles released under the name: Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero 5, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits and the recent addition of Band Hero – some of which have been accompanied with new instruments. In May 2009, Activision revealed they would be supporting a new plastic instrument in the form of a turntable, in the predictably named: DJ Hero.
In a similar fashion to Guitar Hero, players impress the virtual crowd by matching the scrolling notes on the screen by pressing the corresponding red, green or blue button on the turntable. Some notes are required to be held, forcing players to hold the relevant colour whilst moving the turntable up and down with their hand, better known as “scratching”. DJ Hero also features crossfading, which requires players to move the crossfader left or right depending on the direction of the fade in the mash-up, as portrayed by the lines on-screen.
High-achieving players will be rewarded with a ‘rewind,’ a feature that sends the song backwards by a few seconds so that players can work through the section again, activated by turning the turntable. Scores can also take a significant boost through euphoria, the DJ Hero equivalent of Guitar Hero’s Star Power, attained by achieving 100% on glowing white sections. This gives players a temporary increased multiplier, activated by pressing the flashing red button on the turntable controller.
Whilst it sounds like a fair bit to take in, especially with players having to get to grips with the new controller, all the game’s features are excellently introduced to players through a brilliantly explained in-game tutorial. Unfortunately it does have a major problem. Whilst it is optional, the tutorial does get quite repetitive, with players having to test their skills through the same repetitive song: Queen featuring David Bowie’s Another One Bites The Dust.
The remainder of the track list is quite varied, featuring some more modern hits such as Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” to some older tracks such as Tears For Fears’ “Shout,” so there is something that will appeal to everyone, even if the style of the game doesn’t particularly. Regrettably, all the songs come pre-mashed-up with another and can’t be mixed to any song of the player’s pleasing. Thankfully, the ninety-three variations on offer are to a great standard, with players easily being able to identify their favourites.
As you would expect from a title in the music-rhythm genre, the game allows players to embark through a career, where earning stars is the key to success. Throughout the journey, players find themselves earning up to five stars per song, the means of progression, with players having to unlock a specific amount of stars to unlock the next set. Whilst there is no particular narrative to the career, each set has been well designed to cover similar mash-ups.
To assist players as they venture through the career mode, an additional DJ can be introduced to support. However, this requires an extra turntable controller. Thankfully, FreeStyle Games has provided DJs with another means of multiplayer, instead using the guitar controller in co-op. Regrettably, there are very few songs which support the second option and the guitarist will often find themselves strumming along to the ever-so-repetitive note patterns. Nonetheless, the feature is still very much welcome in the title. Likewise, the multiplayer also extends to the Xbox Live service, over which players can clash against fellow DJs in a set within ranked or unranked battles. Whereas the online experience is an inclusion that will add lifespan to the title, there isn’t really much variety and the mode becomes rather tedious, rather quickly.
Graphically, the flashing bright lights of reds, yellows, greens and blues, supplemented by some fine-looking venues in the background, ranks DJ Hero to a good standard. The recreation of big-named stars has been superbly done, with players being able to instantly recognise the likes of Daft Punk and DJ AM as they take to the decks.
DJ Hero is the breath of fresh air the Guitar Hero series needed in order for the long-lasting appeal to be reignited. The style and concept will appeal to teenage and young adult audiences and the fun-filled party elements will be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone of any age. Despite the high price tag of the game putting many people off and the few faults the game contains, the title is certainly one to consider.
David Wriglesworth is a Northern lad with a passion for gaming, who graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA (Hons) Journalism degree. If you can drag him away from the consoles, you can probably find him Tweeting or watching Coronation Street.