When I reviewed the original DJ Hero last year, I didn’t expect it to be on my top five list. The game just took me by surprise and turned out to be quite enjoyable, not to mentioning conjuring up some impressive mashups out of some songs which I didn’t even like by themselves.
Needless to say DJ Hero 2 carries on that formula, but this year the concentration is on freestyle gameplay. Gone are the original’s pre-loaded samples that were executed with the red button when on a pre-determined track. This time the samples are built into each of the separate tracks and can be played independently.
Freestyle gameplay has also been added to the scratching. Before scratching was pre-determined as well, but now there are areas that allow the turntable to be scratched at the player’s discretion. Even better, freestyle has been added to the crossfader. There are areas where both tracks are available and can be switched back and forth to the player’s liking. A handy guide bar on each track makes it helpful to determine just when to crossfade to provide the best sound. Needless to say, the addition of freestyle gameplay really enhances the game experience.
DJ Hero 2 also includes the option to use a microphone for lyrics and rapping. While the full Party Package includes the microphone (as well as two brand new DJ Hero Turntable controls) any standard Guitar Hero or Rock Band USB microphone will work. The new microphone is a nice addition but I don’t see many people taking full advantage of it, and it seems to be more of an afterthought.
Aside from these additions, the rest of the game feels like the wonderful DJ Hero experience we are used to. Switching back and forth between tracks, tapping notes, and scratching to a high score.
But this year, the game is permanently connected to leaderboards. In addition to the usual star meter underneath your score, a bar will show which of your friends are beating your score and will explode after you top them. It’s a nice little side challenge to an already great experience, made only better with multiplayer.
This year’s multiplayer includes some impressive battle modes. There is the standard checkpoint mode, which awards each section to the DJ who plays better, star battles (score attacks,) DJ battles where tracks alternate between the two combatants, and my personal favorite, the Streak Battle. In this mode, players are able to bank their highest streak (similar to the Weakest Link) and the highest bank wins.
An enhanced version is available called Accumulator that allows you to build up multiple banks to increase your total Streak score. Needless to say I have spent a lot of time with the multiplayer modes and have enjoyed them a lot.
In fact, I may have enjoyed the multiplayer mode a lot more than the single player game. The heart of the single player is called Empire, and while it sounds like a great idea in concept, where you try to dominate six clubs, in practice it’s a little weak.
Each club starts with an awesome megamix by its host DJ (including legends such as Deadmau5, RZA, David Guetta, DJ QBert, and Tiesto) and ends with a battle against them. But the whole execution falls into the standard tier formula we are used to in the other Hero games.
The game wouldn’t be its usual greatness without an awesome soundtrack, and once again DJ Hero 2 delivers. There are 80 plus mixes this time around (compared to the 93 in DJ Hero 1) and the soundtrack seems to be a bit more refined towards club based music, and even better, we don’t have as much repetition in track choice between mashups (such as the overkill of Rhianna’s Disturbia) this time around.
Granted there are some songs I still do not like by themselves (such as the overplayed Don’t Cha by the Pussycat Dolls) but again the results of the mashups sound excellent. Sadly the disc content from the first DJ Hero can not be transferred over, but DLC is compatible via a free download.
And that’s what makes DJ Hero 2 so good, the interesting concoctions that these DJs made for this game. That, plus its just so darn fun I can’t get away from its gameplay. It might not be the groundbreaker the first game was, but DJ Hero 2 is a worthy successor, and well worth anyone’s time and money.
Pros: The best new rhythm entry last year gets better. New freestyle controls enhance the experiences. Excellent sounding mashups, and new non-stop megamixes. Multiplayer modes are a lot of fun! Not as much repeating in tracks compared to last year.
Cons: Microphone might seem like an afterthought. Career mode still tier based. Some people might have issues with the more streamlined track list. Full party package is expensive. Needs more megamixes. No ability to transfer DJH1 disc content, just DLC.
Editor’s Note: Game reviewed with the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game.