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DJ Hero 2 Review

By: Andrew Cook

DJ Hero 2 is finally here. This time around, FreeStyleGames has added many new features that will keep you playing the game more than last time. More online modes, larger and more diverse soundtrack and new gameplay elements make DJ Hero 2 stand out.

DJ Hero 2’s biggest addition are the freestyle sections. No longer will you be forced to use the same sample on the middle red platter button repeating the same samples over and over again, because instead, DJ Hero 2 offers track-specific samples that allow you to get creative. These new freestyle sections allow you to feel more in control of the mix. DJ Hero 2 also sees the introduction of freestyle scratch and cross-fader sections, allowing you to tailor the track to your specific tastes. Perfectly matching up the corresponding vocal lines from two songs so that they switch back and forth in one of the game’s many mashups is as good as it gets in DJ Hero 2. It makes you feel like you’re really behind those decks and mixing the songs. Other minor additions to the gameplay include held notes and held scratches. The guitar has been taken out of the game and the vocals have been added allowing you to play with “Two turntables and a microphone.”

FreeStyleGames also revamps the single player experience with Empire Mode. In Empire mode you you build a name for yourself and your brand creating a logo and choosing a club. You also travel around to different venues and play different set lists as well as DJ battles against Legendary DJs including DJ Q-Bert. Unfortunately, this is where the uniqueness of Empire Mode stops. It is essentially playing through quickplay with a different name on it, much like DJ Hero 1.

FreeStyleGames has also added “Power Decks” this time around which honestly ruin the leaderboards and the competition. These Power Decks offer various power boosts when they’re selected, that can include higher multipliers, more points for scratches/taps/cross fades and so on. If a score on the leaderboard was obtained using a Power Deck, that score will be indicated with a lightning bolt, however, you will in no way see your name anywhere near the leaderboards unless you use these Power Decks. I would change the game to make power decks available, but disqualify you from being ranked on the leaderboards when you use them.

One of the more unique integrations is the Hero feed, and the constant reminder while you’re playing a certain track of the scores your friends have put up. It’s definitely a minor, but fine addition to the franchise and has you constantly keeping one eye on your friend, hoping to topple their top score. It adds an incentive to keep playing after you’ve nailed that 5-star score.

What DJ Hero is known for is of course, the music. DJ Hero 2 features 105 songs, combining to make over 80 playable mixes. There seems to be more dance and house music this time around. The songlist features tracks from Deadmau5, Daft Punk, Kaskade, Tiesto, Rhianna, The Chemical Brothers and much more making it a very solid songlist.

DJ Hero 2 has completely revamped the online modes from the first game. Online you’ll find 6 varying different modes; these include the traditional Star Battle, where you battle for top score; and a Power Deck Battle which lets you choose which Power Deck you use. Then there’s also Streak, where you increase your streak count throughout the song and bank your highest streak when you feel like it’s enough to grant you the win; and Accumulator, which is similar to Streak, but you bank multiple streaks that add into a total score. For the more competitive, there are Checkpoint battles where you have to outscore your opponent; and the DJ Battle, which is made for 2 players and alternates control of the mix in a sort of checkpoint battle. The online modes also allow you to create a title and icon to represent yourself while you are playing online. More of these title and icons are unlocked as you play. You also earn DJ Points for winning which level up your character up to level 50. The levels do nothing for you, just to show your opponent how well you have done. The downfall to the online play is that you are hardly matched up with someone that plays on the same difficulty as you. You can play on medium and compete with someone on expert and if you are playing a star battle, the medium player will probably win. On the other hand, if you play a streak battle, the expert player will probably win because the expert chart will have many more notes. A filter of some sort to allow you to play someone only if they are on the same difficulty would be appreciated.

DJ Hero 2 though as a package is a definite improvement over last year. The new “Empire” mode has very little depth, but the new online play modes and great songlist help. While the freestyle sections are great additions to the franchise, there is little else to get excited about. DJ Hero 2 introduced many new features, there are just a few little details that need to be worked on along with more depth to single player by the time DJ Hero 3 comes along.

DJ Hero 2 is a must buy for any music game fan.

Audio – 9
Visuals – 8
Playability – 9
Delivery – 7
Overall – 8.3

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