DJ Hero 2 Party Bundle Review

Developer: Freestyle Games
Publisher: Activision
Released: October 19th, 2010
Platforms: Ps3 and Xbox 360
Players: 2 (Multiplayer online available)
Genre: Rhythm-based music game
Rating: Teen
REVIEWED Ps3 Version



GAMEPLAY:
Its another music-based rhythm game that has you tapping your feet to the beat. You have the turntable "scratching" part, the crossfader and the effects dial all to take into consideration. This makes DJ Hero games finger gymnastics and will take some getting used to while you hole down the colored buttons on the turntable and scratch and move the crossfader left to right with the music. Luckily there is a robust tutorial section and multiple difficulties that give players the chance ease into the game and how it works.

New this time is freestyle fading, a way to customize the tracks by switching the crossfader between tracks to create a more personalized mix. This was our favorite addition because it makes you feel more in control of the turntables and feel more like an actual DJ making actual music decisions.

Other "freestyle" sections like scratching and sampling don't seem to give the same audible feedback. They seem thrown in to give a little bit of perceived customization and added difficultly.

Although the mixes are already created for the game, the freestyle sections give you a chance to inject your flavor into the professionally blended tunes.

In the first game, a mic was included but it was all for show. Now the mic and the person singing add to the scoring unlike in DJ Hero and there was no pitch detection in the first game. Tune up the pipes because DJ Hero 2 has pitch detection and won't let you get away with being flat.

The harder the setting, the more movements and involvement you have in mixing the tracks. Just like Guitar Hero, harder settings are more fulfilling because they require you to play each note or in this case, scratch to you hearts' content. The freestyle set pieces also help give you the feel of controlling the pace and mix.

Career mode is now referred to as Empire mode and takes your created DJ through multiple venues and countries in hopes of creating a buzz and subsequent fame. Along the way you can unlock turntable decks, headphones, clothes and other famous DJs for use in Empire, offline and online modes. Along the way you will challenge other famous DJs to battles and that is how you unlock them and other things.

The controllers are solid feeling and really help sell the whole DJ feel. The buttons are strong and nothing feels cheap. For the $150 price tag, the two turntables, mic and game are a good value because of how well built and real life everything feels.

DESIGN:
DJ Hero 2 boasts a music selection of over 80 songs for you to play through. The track list includes artists like Eminem, Kid Cudi, Dr. Dre, Lady Gaga and Kanye West. Some people ahve taken exception to the Top 40 musical selections, but that is the best way to keep this massively appealing to people. I don't like the true DJ house/electronic music, I would rather mashup B.o.B's Nothin' on You with Dr. Dre and 2Pac's California Love. With future downloadable tracks promised, hopefully more of what I like and some of what "they" like will help deepen the music experience.

The colors and visual prompts that show you what to do with the turntable, even though they are confusing at first and will take some getting used to, all look clear and easy to differentiated on the hectic tune road as the required buttons more at you.

Graphics are great and the DJs that you unlock, like David Guetta and deadmau5 all look spot on like their real life counterparts. The directing and editing of the video background look and club scene all really harvest the feel of the game. And its a great feeling. Playing this game is all about that feeling, its hard to explain, but manipulating the music (especially WHEN YOU TURN THIS UP ON YOUR SURROUND SOUND OR TV) and the visuals all make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Really, graphically this is just an extremely cleaned up and polished second offering in the DJ Hero franchise.

LASTING APPEAL:
In party houses and for people who like to host, this game makes a lot of sense. Its not a massively appealing single player experience. The online community is pretty good and at any time, in our testing, you can hop online and play a few, I guess you can call them "matches." Leaderboards, friend matchmaking and just simple quick games are all there to help bolster the online offering.

The problem with any timing game online, connection on both sides online must be good, but its 2010 and that shouldn't and wasn't a problem for us, the servers did a great job.

With all of those unlockables in Empire play also help give people a reason to play over and over. So do the included trophies and achievements for Ps3 and Xbox 360.

The only thing missing, and an addition that would make DJ Hero 2 widely deep and re-playable is the inclusion of a mix making application much like Rock Band and Guitar Hero have focused on lately.

If you have the first DJ Hero, there are some new things here but not all to much to warrant getting this unless you like the setlist. The turntable from DJ Hero will work here as well and vice versa.

Most importantly, this is extremely fun to play. But if they want this series to continue and flourish, all further DJ Hero games will need to include some genre changing innovation to keep this series fresh.

MSRP:
$150

PROS:
+ Two turntables and a microphone make this the perfect party game
+ Freestyle crossfading gives you DJ sensations
+ Music and mixes are absolutely incredible
+ Plenty of deep unlockables
+ Great fun to play

CONS:
- Man can this game be hard for new comers
- Wish you had the ability to create mixes like Guitar Hero lets you create music
- Not much new from the first one

GRADE:
A
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