Every since the first Guitar Hero came out for the PS2, I have been waiting for the hip-hop equivalent. I know there were previous DJ games before like Beatmania, but those were more techno/dance music oriented. At the end of last year, we got word that Activision was indeed working on the latest addition to the Hero series, and that it would be DJ Hero. I was thrilled because finally there would be a game catered to my music tastes. Not to say that I don’t like Guitar Hero and Rock Band’s music library, but I much prefer DJ Hero’s. As E3 rolled around during the Summer, we finally got a glimpse of the turntable controller and some gameplay and everything looked to be pretty good. Things got better when the game got the backing of artists like Jay-Z and Eminem as well as DJs like DJ AM[RIP], DJ Shadow, DJ J. Period, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and DJ Z-Trip to name a few.
Check my review after the jump to see why I gave it an 9.0/10.
Click to read the review and view pics
The turntable controller is easy to learn how to use and it makes the game enjoyable. There are a couple drawbacks though, mainly with the crossfader. On the Renegade Edition it feels pretty sturdy, but the demo version I tried at Best Buy was pretty loose. The buttons on the vinyl are placed nicely, except it is hard sometimes to scratch with the inner blue button. It will have to take some getting used to, as it is not really a natural motion. It is kind of hard to explain, but when you play the game and you have to scratch with the blue button, you will know what I am talking about. Everything else about the controller is really nice. The vinyl part is nice and smooth and the overall design is pretty slick. The Renegade Edition has a glossy black finish that is a fingerprint magnet, but it’s really not that big of a deal.
The graphics are what you would expect from a music game. Obviously it is not going to be too realistic like Gran Turismo 5 or Uncharted 2, but at the same time the graphics are fluid and work well with the gameplay. Some of the characters are kind of weird, but there are some nice details like the Undefeated banners that only few sneakerheads might recognize. Another little annoyance is that your character isn’t always doing what the gameplay is doing. For instance you might be scratching, but the character won’t even have his or her hands on the vinyl.
I don’t want to act like this is the best music library in a game ever, but it is easily my favorite in any game. With artists like Jay-Z, Eminem, Rihanna, Jackson 5, Daft Punk, Kid Cudi, Wale, and Mobb Deep, just to name my favorites, I was amazed at how many songs they got. Best of all though, they are mixed into 93 mashups that keep things original. Of course music games rely on a the music library for success and DJ Hero definitely succeeds when it comes to that.
Besides the music library, this was the make it or break it part of the game. Even with good music, this game could have sucked if the gameplay was bad. But fortunately for us, the gameplay is great. It works well with the two outer buttons on the turntable each controlling a song and the middle for sound effects. The scratching works just like you would want it to be, but it does get difficult with the directional scratches. The crossfader part is the trickiest part of the game that need to be timed perfectly to keep your bonus going. There is no failing in the game like in Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but this game is really hard. I have been playing on Medium difficulty and it has been a challenge. It may look like GH/RB but really the gameplay is different with more actions to do. When it starts throwing crossfader movements while you are scratching, you probably will probably mess up but it takes some time to learn. The tutorial is a bit long, but is definitely worth it, as it was a big help to me learning the game. It is there for a reason, so use it.
This is definitely the weakest part of the game. For head to head DJ battles, you play exactly the same mix. I would like to have them keep the song the same, but add a little more freestyle to the multiplayer so it really is based on each player, not just the song. The good side of the multiplayer is that if you have a Guitar controller[which you probably do] then you can play selected mixes with both the turntable and guitar controllers. This is where there could be improvements as singing and drums could be cool add-ons.
The menus are nice and colorful and the music playing in the background gives you a preview of upcoming setlists. The menus are easy to navigate with the turntable controller and nothing really brings it down. Loading times are not that long and are only before loading your setlist.
Lasting Appeal: 9.0/10
For me as long as they keep releasing new mixes as DLC, I will keep on playing this game. This game has a pretty lasting appeal as you can switch up the mixes to put in your own custom setlist, so you can find your own variation of the 93 mixes. The game is really fun to play and a lot of your friends will want to play it
Complaints: Only a few, you cannot select just one mix and play just that one. Unless you put it in a custom setlist, which isn’t that hard to do, but otherwise you can only play through the current setlists. Second the price is ridiculously high for the Renegade Edition. I know I bought that one and it is kind of worth it, but you are better off just getting the regular one.
This is not an average of the scores, but I feel the game is very deserving of a high score because it is the best music game I have played. There is definitely room for improvement, as I would like to see them add drum functionality like they currently have guitar functionality for multiplayer. If they had drums, I could see them doing what DJ AM and Travis Barker did on their shows. All in all though, if you are into hip-hop, you finally have a video game that is mainly marketed towards you. This makes for a perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season and although many people have tons of fake plastic instruments, there is definitely room for one more.
Take a look at my pictures of the Renegade Edition: