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DJ Hero (Xbox 360) artwork

DJ Hero (Xbox 360) review

"Activision hasn't had the best of track record (double entendre) when it comes to music games. They bought the rights to Guitar Hero when Harmonix left the franchise to make Rock Band, and from there the Hero franchise has been a downward slope. I had given up hope when Guitar Hero World Tour came out, and laughed at how badly the Hero franchise wanted to be Rock Band. "

Activision hasn't had the best of track record (double entendre) when it comes to music games. They bought the rights to Guitar Hero when Harmonix left the franchise to make Rock Band, and from there the Hero franchise has been a downward slope. I had given up hope when Guitar Hero World Tour came out, and laughed at how badly the Hero franchise wanted to be Rock Band.

It is nice to be surprised once in a while.

DJ Hero is a music rhythm game in the same vein as Konami's Beatmania. You have a turntable, you match buttons when they come on the screen, and you hear good music. But there are several differences if you look at both titles. Beatmania has you "playing" the song, similar to the way you play a song in Rock Band, whereas DJ Hero is more trying to simulate you mixing two songs together. Yes you are still "playing" the song, but you get lost easier in the presentation.

More on that later.

I am gonna sound biased, but I love music games. I love the interactivity that a lot of music games offer. I love the music the games offer. In short, I love them. Unfortunately, you still have to see them for what they are: simple symbol matching games set to rhythmic timing.

If you can get past that, lets dive right into the review shall we?

With the Hero franchise drowning like it was in lackluster releases, someone thought to themselves "Man, these Hero games suck. I wonder what I could do to make a Hero game that doesn't suck." That man then pitched that idea to Freestyle Games, and DJ Hero was born. I said above that I was surprised by this game. I had every thought in my mind saying that this game was gonna be the worst of the worst when it came to the music game genre (Right after Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Mix), but lo and behold, we had a sleeper hit on our hands.

Being the most prominent part of music game, let’s talk controllers. The DJ Hero controller is a turntable platter with three-buttons on the face, and a cross fader tab. The game displays three note tracks and you have to match what appears on the screen. There are regular taps of the button, and holds, which you use to make the "wikka wikka" scratch that so many folks are fond of. To add flavor, the cross fader is used to silence one side of the two songs you are "mixing". The degree of difficulty on this ranges from stupid easy to bleeding fingers hard. The thing that could've broken the game for everyone was the controller construction. Like the old Rock Band guitars and drums, I felt a large amount of caution towards the first run of peripherals. Again I was pleasantly surprised that the controller delivered a very solid performance, even surviving an accidental dropping down some stairs.

Graphics is something I have a big problem with this game, but to tell the truth this extends from all Hero games. I understand that you want to have a wacky and colorful cast, but FreeStyle Games I gotta say: the ingame avatars are scary lookin'. The set pieces are good enough looking, but as always, my age old enemy stupid looking audiences rear its ugly head. There are also several animation hiccups that occur every now and then, but those are easy to miss if you don't really care (which I do, but that is beside the point).

Now the music is what the deal maker for me in this game was. For the most part this game delivers hard. If my math is correct, this game has the highest ratio of songs I like compared to songs I hate. The score stands 84% (79 of 94 Songs get my Seal of Approval), and Rock Band 2's score is at 67% (57 of 84 which get my Seal of Approval). With artists like Daft Punk, The Gorillaz, Blondie, The Beastie Boys, and nearly 80+ other artists, you have no shortage of good music.

Now the bad news. For everything they got right with this game, one thing keeps it from being amazing: the price. Coming in at a devastating $119.00 for the regular version, and $200.00 for the deluxe version, it is not going to win any newcomers to the music game circle. Hell the price alone scares most music game fans too. I bought the Super Ultra Mega Tycoon Edition because it came with a case and stand. Now the stand and case are great, but if I had to say it, I would have preferred 119 for the deluxe version, and maybe 70 for the regular version.

I can't think of very many problems with this game outside of the price and a few graphical glitches. The only thing I can think of that would kill this game further is the lack of DLC. The reason Rock Band is still going strong is it's insanely huge DLC library. DJ Hero does not have but 5 new songs since it came out in October. So unless Activision pulls their head out, this game is going to fade away, just like every Guitar Hero since 3.

David M. Hubbard
We Will Robot Rock You

RecentElectronics's avatar
Community review by RecentElectronics (December 02, 2009)

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