DJ Hero 2 Party BundleESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Interactive Music
Nintendo Wi-Fi (Pay to Play)
Two Turntables and Microphone included
As noted by fellow reviewer Trevor H, last year's DJ Hero hit the scene with new music, a new turntable peripheral, and a new interactive music experience. I was glad to see the game come to the market as it was something different and it provided anyone who tried it with something they had not played on a console before. Although many praised it, the original DJ Hero still had some room for improvement. Well developer FreeStyleGames has listened, and DJ Hero 2 as been released to the market with changes that make for a great interactive music experience.
I should note that I had the chance to review the DJ Hero 2 Party Bundle. This bundle includes two turntables, a microphone, and the game. The price is a little more than the the usual bundle (one turntable and game), but given that you get a few more peripherals, and the game, it is a good deal. Should you already have a turntable or two from last year, then you can purchase the game on its own with no extras, which is much cheaper and makes sense if you already own the peripherals needed to play.
Visually speaking, DJ Hero 2 looks pretty close to the original game. That being said, you cannot focus much on the game’s visual surroundings as you are focused on the cues guiding you to play the game with game’s controller. You don’t really get to watch the visual treats. For those that can just sit and watch, DJ Hero 2 is a very colourful and vibrant game. The colours really do pop off the screen and add to the whole feel of the world of DJ’ing. The venues that the DJ’ing is supposed to take place in definitely do have that ‘club’ look and feel. You’ll find animated crowds, lots of background action, and lots of camera swoops that heighten the feel of each place too. Now I am not the most versed when it comes to the true masters who handle a turntable ‘oh so well,’ but you’ll find some good looking visual representations of David Guetta, Deadmau5, DJ Qbert, Tiesto and RZA. I am sure that most fans of DJ inspired music will recognize the virtual likenesses on screen. Usually the Wii versions of games are dummied down as its graphical prowess is not as strong as the Xbox 360 or PS3. That being said, the quality of the graphics is good. Sure you may notice a little less resolution, which affects the overall sharpness, but in the end it is not that distracting.
The audio in DJ Hero 2 is a strong point in the game, and it should be given that it is an interactive music/rhythm game. The setlist included is quite diverse and very good. It consists of 83 mash-ups from about 85 different artists. Once you listen to the music you will no doubt realize that a lot of work went into compiling the soundtrack on the game disc. If there is any major difference from this year's DJ Hero from last year, it is that the music seems to include more Top-40 type music than before. This makes sense though given that it is trying to reach out to a wider audience. Don’t get me wrong, there is still some diehard scratching music, but the inclusion of more Top-40 will open up the interest to more people. Some of the tracks you’ll find are: Kanye West - “Love Lockdown” Mixed With Metallica - "The Day That Never Comes;” LL Cool J - “I Can't Live Without My Radio” Mixed With Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five feat; Melle Mel & Duke Bootee - “The Message;” 2Pac ft. Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman - “California Love Remix” Mixed With B.o.B ft; Bruno Mars - “Nothin' On You;” Eminem - “Not Afraid” Mixed With Lil' Wayne feat; Static Major - “Lollipop” and Sean Paul - “Get Busy” Mixed With Rihanna - “Pon De Replay.” The sound quality on the Wii is pretty good too. I found that I had no issues enjoying how the music sounded, but there is no doubt that you can tell the difference between the Wii version and the Xbox 360 or PS3 version which allow for Dolby Digital to come out of the speakers for those with such a setup.
DJ Hero’s gameplay is akin to any one of Activision's other “hero” music games where you watch on screen cues that are paired to music. Your actions, in this case pressing coloured buttons while moving the turntable controller, have to match the on screen cues. For those new to the DJ Hero experience, the turntable controller has three colour coded buttons (blue, red, green) as well as a crossfader, a special effects dial, and a “euphoria” button (like the star power button on the Guitar Hero controller). For those lefties out there you can alter the set-up by detaching the two halves and moving them to suit your control needs.
Although I did review last year’s Wii version of the game, I am still not the most adapt when it comes to mixing, scratching, and playing the songs, and I am sure there are other people out there with this same lack of expertise, so it comes as a great relief that there is a detailed tutorial mode that will teach you the basics of scratching, tapping, crossfading, effect dialing, and using the euphoria controls. Of course, just like last year, if you want to master the game at the highest skill level, you will need to practice as much as you can. That being said, there is a skill level here for everyone and the game is somewhat accessible in this area.
DJ Hero 2’s controls are pretty identical to last year's version, but there have been some new controls added this time around. Held Notes is where you hold a note for the duration of the held note icon and Length Scratches are those that represent longer upward or downward scratches. There is also the addition of Freestyle Sampling, Freestyle Crossfading, and Freestyle Scratching. The freestyling controls are a nice addition as players can now express more creativity.
Also noteworthy is the way the microphone is incorporated this time around. Last year you could basically sing along, just for fun. This year the vocals are scored pretty much like any other recently released band game where your pitch, range, and volume are taken into consideration. Although the addition of this is a positive step, it can be pretty tough to match the words in any given song. You have to remember these tracks are mash-ups of other songs, so you may find the tempo and beat to something you think you know is totally different than it is supposed to be. It is pretty tough and adds to the challenge, but in some ways it may turn off players to the vocal aspect of the game.
This sophomore edition of the game aims to take a few steps forward by adding a few new modes and game types to the whole experience, both in single player and multiplayer.
In terms of single player, Empire Mode is basically the single player career mode and it is where I spent a big chunk of my time playing. Here you are tasked to take a no name character from the bowels of DJ experience to that of being a huge DJ superstar. Although it seems that there would be a story attached, there is not, and this career mode does miss this component. That being said, there is a progression system that Empire Mode follows, which is very similar to that of past Guitar Hero games, and something that you would expect given that this is an Activision published title. You have to complete a series of mash-ups before you can continue on. As you advance you manage to unlock new venues, new decks, new headphones, new outfits, and new characters, some which return from the first game. Overall, even with the lack of a story, the Empire Mode is pretty enjoyable and allows you to play the game with some sort of purpose.
You will also find a new Hero Feed. Here you can keep track of your progression and should you feel you have done a good job, you can challenge your friends to beat your scores online.
Or course FreeStyleGames has also made some steps in the multiplayer arena. In terms of adversarial multiplayer play, the old DJ vs. DJ Mode has been scrapped and replaced with six new multiplayer modes. You’ll find Streak, which challenges players to bank the highest note streak, and whoever does the best is the winner. Accumulator is very similar to Streak, but here each bank of notes is added to a score that accumulates as you play, with the highest total score winning. Checkpoint is where the player who tallies the most checkpoint section wins. DJ Battle follows the same rules as Checkpoint, but this time there is an emphasis on players ‘acing’ call and response challenges. Star Battle has players battling it out to earn the most stars before the song ends. Finally, Power Deck Battles use unlockable special decks and players engage in tactical battles for the most stars. As you can see, the six modes play off of at least one other mode, allowing for familiarity and good selection of different game modes. These can be played offline or online as well. These modes are a nice change and add even more to the gaming experience.
DJ Hero 2 also takes another key feature from past “hero” games, that being Party Play. This mode is selectable from the main menu and it allows you or other people to jump in and out of a song at anytime without disrupting the set that is being played, which in turn does not interrupt any groove that a player may be in. Being able to have two people scratching and freestyling while having one sing can be pretty fun, and being able to have someone quit, or someone join, while the song plays, is a plus. Overall this mode is extremely suitable for those get togethers where you want to listen to some great tunes and have people interact and have some fun.
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