DJ Hero Review

More bass! MORE BASS!

By Keza MacDonald, October 30, 2009

Good as they look, though, the menus could be better laid-out. You have to scroll through about thirty setlists to get to the equivalent of Quickplay – I didn’t even realise that Quickplay was there until after about five hours – and the process of adding and removing tracks from a setlist isn’t at all clear until you study the manual. The tracks are presented as setlists of four or five rather than individual challenges, but it is possible to play one mix on your own – it’s just not very clear how. A little extra menu separating the setlists from quickplay and tutorials could have gone a long way.

She's got her top caught in that spinning vinyl thing.

She's got her top caught in that spinning vinyl thing.

The endorsement and inclusion of real superstar DJs is a real highlight – it’s awesome being able to play as a real-life legend. Real attention had been paid to their implementation as well – they’ve all got cool and unique little entrance animations. Obviously I’m Daft Punk all of the time. All of them have contributed mixes to the game, too, which are generally very, very technical to play on Expert (perhaps unsurprisingly). There’s lots of fast, complicated scratching rather than button-pressing and crossfading. Freestyle Games’ own mixes are often more fun to actually play, as they’re designed with the game in mind.

The music variety is bafflingly large, encompassing a vast range of extremes from The Killers to Jay-Z, a splash of Eminem and the requisite few ironic 50s hits (usually mixed with something like Gwen Stefani). The mixes themselves are largely excellent. How much you get off on the music will come down to personal taste in the end, of course, but the only thing I found wildly offensive in the entire tracklist was a five-mix set of rock mashups that tried to bring the Beastie Boys and Ace of Spades together in an unholy marriage. Given that there’s about a hundred separate tracks, though, and eighty mixes, it’s difficult to understand why we have to hear the Jackson 5 about ten times. There are two or three other tracks in the selection that come up a disproportionate number of times, meaning you’ll probably grow to hate them quite quickly.

The learning curve is excellent, too. It slowly implements all of the different elements as you work through the difficulty levels – Beginner and Easy just involve pressing buttons, Medium introduces crossfading, Hard directional scratching, and Expert feels deceptively close to real mixing. The way the game’s structured means you don’t get stuck on particular tracks, either. You can always go back to earlier setlists to earn more stars, rather than having to play through in a certain order to unlock the next set of songs.

If DJ Hero were fifty or sixty quid it would be essential for anyone with an interest in music games, but at £100 (or more, depending where you look) it’s a little ethically difficult to recommend it unreservedly. You could get a whole set of instruments for less. The DJ Hero decks are a very cool piece of kit, but I’ve got minor reservations about the quality of the thing – my first set had to be replaced because it developed a mechanical error after about seven hours of play, and the same thing happened to my second set after about the same amount of time. It’s possible that I’ve just been extraordinarily unlucky, of course. It’s not happened to anybody else I know. There’s no way of knowing if this is a widespread problem or not until after launch.

Is this what they call "rinsing out the sound"?

Is this what they call "rinsing out the sound"?

DJ Hero is a very pure rhythm-action thrill – its pulsing strobes, bright lights and lovely interface speak assuredly to the dyed in the wool pattern junkie in me. Meanwhile the confident, polished presentation, quality, nature and variety of the mixes and beautiful learning curve cannot be faulted. It’s an exemplary product, really, but also a very expensive one – that’s the only thing to keep in mind before settling in for a weekend alone with an awesome new peripheral, incredibly loud music and beautiful new patterns to master.

8 out of 10

Comments are closed.


Kikizo Classic: