DJ Hero 2 is more DJ Hero.
2009′s DJ Hero was a breath of fresh air for the Rhythm Game Market. Releasing into a Marketplace flooded by 5 gazillion versions of Guitar Hero, it was a fantastic change of pace for those players out there that had become tired of the genre. DJ Hero 2 continues to impress and it gives players more control over the music, making it a more involving and exciting experience.
The first DJ Hero didn’t have much of a story mode, it was there, but it was mostly just a menu where you could choose the mixes you wanted to play and as you completed them you could move to the next track list. DJ Hero 2 isn’t that much better, but there’s at least an effort here to make a mode similar to the story modes in Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
When you first enter Empire Mode, DJ Hero’s version of a Quest or Story Mode from those other Rhythm games, you’re given the ability to choose from a list of cities around the world to play at. Of course, you’re only able to choose one at first, Ibiza, and the rest are locked. After you collect a certain amount of stars from Ibiza, the second city opens up and you can play there. Then it continues on like this until all cities are unlocked. It’s nothing new or exciting in the way of a rhythm game story, but this doesn’t matter because it works.The first tracks you play in each city are a “Megamix” from one of the games star DJ’s such as Deadmau5, The RZA and Tiesto. These Megamixes have about 3 or 4 different mixes that can take 10 to 15 minutes to complete and they’re extremely satisfying and they turn out to be the best part of the game, simply because they make you feel like a real DJ by having each track lead straight into the next without much of a break in between.
After you’ve finished these Megamixes you’re thrown back into the menu’s and asked to choose the next tracklist you want to play. These regular tracklists are very much like the ones from the first game. They’re made up of 3 or 4 mixes and you play these as you’re chosen character.
You can also choose to take part in DJ Battles against the star DJ’s in the game. These do not get you any stars toward your overall Empire mode score, but they do unlock extra mixes in the certain city you play them in. They have you alternating between certain parts of the mix against the Star DJ and trying to have the higher score percentage by the time you reach certain checkpoints. They’re fun and they provide a good challenge as you get further along in the story.
I use the term “story” loosely because the only thing that lets you feel like your achieving your goal of becoming a DJ is a simple piece of text before the megamixes along the lines of “Hey, you played that last place quite well, let’s conquer this next place now!”. That’s it. There are no cutscenes or anything from behind-the-scenes of this fictitious DJ world that make you feel like you’re really becoming a star.
Outside of Empire mode you can of course play through Quickplay mode, simply playing one track after another and trying to get higher scores and stars.
There is of course Multiplayer as well. You can battle against another player to see who’s the best DJ or you can also have someone singing in a Co-op type mode, which doesn’t work very well. The reason for it not working has nothing to do with the game being badly made, the karaoke works exactly like it does in Rock Band and Guitar Hero, but because all of the mixes in this game are new and contain the lyrics being cut up and repeating a lot. It’s almost impossible for someone to jump in and just sing along like they would normally. I’m sure there’s someone out there who could practise the songs, but the fact that you don’t score anything for singing, means that you’d be wasting your time.
Freestyle Games have added some new ways to play that do actually work though. There are new Freestyle sections in each of the tracks now that make you feel like you’re contributing a lot more to each track now instead of just doing what the game wants you to do. There are Freestyle Crossfade, Scratching and Tapping sections that act just like they sound. Freestyle Tapping was in the original game, but this time around the samples used in these sections are related to the song instead of just being a random selection that you choose beforehand.
There’s a great little addition to the Social aspect of the game this time around. After you have finished a Mix you can send a challenge to anybody on your Friends List and ask them to try and beat your score. It’s a small addition, but it’s a lot of fun and sure to lead to some great back and forth between friends.
Of course, Rhythm Games are highly dependant on the quality of its soundtrack and i found the one in DJ Hero 2 lacking. I loved the Mixes in the first game because they were upbeat and you could dance along to the music as you were playing, but the tracks here aren’t very dance friendly. A lot of them are actually quite slow and dour. As i stated earlier, the Megamixes are quite good, but there are only about 5 or 6 of those. There are some more upbeat tracks in the rest of the list, but they’re few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, the Mixes aren’t awful, they’re all very well put together, but compared to the first game they’re just not as fun to play.
DJ Hero 2 is more DJ Hero, but the new additions to the gameplay make it a more involved experience. The social aspects are great and the multiplayer is fun. The game is ultimately let down by a Track list that isn’t very fun to play and the singing component is quite useless. If you liked the first game you might want to try DJ Hero 2, if you didn’t like it then this game won’t change your mind.