Giant Bomb Review

35 Comments

DJ Hero 2 Review

4
  • PS3
  • X360

Most of DJ Hero 2's additions greatly expand the game, while the lengthy and varied soundtrack gives players plenty to do.


 Star battles have two DJs competing simultaneously.
The original DJ Hero was a bright spot in a year that looked sort of grim for the music genre. Activision was flooding the market with "Hero" games and the whole thing was starting to look like it was about to collapse under its own weight. But the developers at FreeStyleGames are producing the only game with Hero in the title worth caring about in 2010, and they've made a handful of smart additions that make DJ Hero 2 feel like a better, more complete game.

DJ Hero 2 works off of the same basic concept as the previous game, offering mashed-together songs and giving you a turntable controller that you'll use to cut back and forth between the two records and, when asked, scratch. The sequel uses the same controllers as the original, but it still manages to add new types of freestyle sections, giving you a little more control over how some parts of the track sound. Freestyle crossfading sections are probably the most dramatic, since you can cut off either record or let both play. This is the most direct and realistic freestyle section available. You can also scratch on your own in freestyle scratch sections, but these don't feel as accurate. The game sort of lays out a basic scratch track, and you're sort of rubbing that back and forth. There are also held notes, where you have to hold one of the three buttons down for a set length of time. That's a minor thing on its own, obviously, but when all of these new elements combine, they make DJ Hero 2 feel more dynamic than its predecessor. There's more to do and the action feels like it's more closely simulating things you might actually do on a real turntable.

You'll deploy your mock-turntablism across 80 or so different mixes, some of which are broken out into the game's battle mode, which is where two players can compete either locally or online. The battle mode is part of an expanded multiplayer component, which offers different competitive game modes beyond the simple star battle. Some of these are more streak-focused, where you'll have to bank your longest note streak before you lose it. Another employs use of the game's power decks, which are unlocked in the single-player mode.

 Deploying 'Euphoria' properly can give you a quick boost in points.
The single-player in DJ Hero 2 is very straightforward. It's called "empire mode," but it's not much more than a list of tracks and battles that must be completed to earn stars and unlock additional events, clothing, DJs, arenas, and so on. It's here where you'll encounter the game's licensed, real-life DJs, like Tiesto, David Guetta, and The RZA. The most important thing you'll unlock are additional mixes and the aforementioned power decks, which increase your scoring potential. The game makes good use of online leaderboards and provides a feed of what your friends are doing, giving you plenty of opportunities to battle over the lead on a specific song. The power decks can give you the edge in that battle, but the leaderboards denote their use, letting you know who's getting a bit of a lift and who's doing it without any sort of performance enhancement.

There's an expanded vocal component in DJ Hero 2 that scores a vocalist on how well they sing the songs, making this a three-player game. It's a noble concept, but singing remixes just makes the whole thing sound lame. It takes away from the mixes to have someone--even a great singer--repeating the same line or words again and again, as if their voice is also being chopped up by the turntable controllers. It's an ill-conceived effort that feels completely out of place alongside the rest of the game.

As with any music game, some portion of your enjoyment of DJ Hero 2 is going to come specifically from your musical tastes and how well they match up with the game's track list. DJ Hero 2 does a better job at picking good, modern content and, when necessary, mashing it up with notable older songs that fit the general mood of the game. There's nothing as out-of-place as Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" in DJ Hero 2, and more of the tracks sound like quality mixes that you'd actually consider listening to outside of the game this time around. And, well, any rhythm game that dares to include Snow's "Informer" is OK in my book.

Overall, DJ Hero 2 just feels tight. Everything from the menus to the gameplay has a clean, streamlined look and feel to it. The gameplay additions--with the exception of the weak vocals--are intelligent and really make the game more playable than it was last year. While other rhythm game franchises feel like they're fizzling out, DJ Hero still feels like it's just getting started. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
35 Comments
Posted by arab_prince

Quite a positive review. I'm impressed

Posted by TheSeductiveMoose

Awesome.

Posted by AjayRaz

still debating on purchasing this.. i should probably give the track list a look at. 

Posted by Jadeskye

two turntables in addition to a microphone.

Edited by captain_clayman

not bad. 
 
i'm never first.  ah well idgaf

Posted by iShayman

I'm excited to check this out. DJ Hero was awesome and this looks even better. 
 
Glad to hear that the crashing isn't an issue, I was worried.

Posted by Winsord

Though I was concerned about the quality of the game, you've convinced me that the friend's list bug was just a one-off and it sounds like a lot of fun. I'm not too big of a fan of the setlist on this one, but I already have the turntable so I might pick it up cheap down the road.

Posted by Gerhabio

Great review, Jeff. But I gotta say, "I heard it through the grapevine" vs "feel good inc." was my favorite mix on the first one.

Posted by Fastshot

Nice review I'm playing DJ Hero 2 right now and I'm glad they got rid of the guitar parts. And the sing really fun with friends being able to rewind what there saying always funny I quite like it personally. Just fun getting someone trying to sing mash ups .  And somthing nt mentioned that im liking is they gt rid of the big gaps between tracks gr8 addidtion even if It means I find it hard to play anything above a 3 track list

Edited by SpicyRichter

@Jeff: So you got past the crashes?

Posted by rjayb89
Posted by Afroman269
@AjayRaz
still debating on purchasing this.. i should probably give the track list a look at. 
Listen to some of the songs on YouTube, like with the first game, many of the songs that I could care less about are turned into awesomesauce in DJ Hero's mixes
Posted by rjayb89
@Afroman269 said:
" @AjayRaz
still debating on purchasing this.. i should probably give the track list a look at. 
Listen to some of the songs on YouTube, like with the first game, many of the songs that I could care less about are turned into awesomesauce in DJ Hero's mixes "
Also, torrents got 65 of the game's mixes.  I mean, what.
Posted by SpicyRichter
@rjayb89: ugh ya I caught that just after I posted
 
Surprised this got such a good review, but pleased as wel!
Posted by MikeyZeroG

first

Posted by Everyones_A_Critic

I pretty much agree on all counts, but I vastly prefer the soundtrack to the new game to the old one.

Posted by MikeyZeroG

...

Posted by JJOR64

I've always wanted to try the first game, but never got around to trying it.  Maybe I should try to find some turntables for cheap and get this when the price drops.

Posted by Afroman269
@rjayb89 said:
" @Afroman269 said:
" @AjayRaz
still debating on purchasing this.. i should probably give the track list a look at. 
Listen to some of the songs on YouTube, like with the first game, many of the songs that I could care less about are turned into awesomesauce in DJ Hero's mixes "
Also, torrents got 65 of the game's mixes.  I mean, what. "
Been there and done that, just like with the original game's mixes. I mean, what?
Posted by KaiUnderneath

Yup. Bought this today and I'm really enjoying it. 
Though I feel a lot of the game's songs don't match up to my tastes as well as the first game's did. 
Maybe I just haven't got to the stuff that suits me better yet, but the lack of Daft Punk bums me out a bit.

Posted by rjayb89
@Afroman269: Ha, I downloaded the first game's soundtrack then bought the game because I thought it was so great.  This time I went on and bought the game first before any "shenanigans." 
 
No regrets.  But I do wish for more inappropriate Flava Flav sound bites.
Posted by solidlife

Going to pick this one up for xmas. loved it last year! 

Posted by PLWolf

I'm looking forward to picking this up around Christmas, but for now, ROCK BAND 3!!

Posted by angelfan91

I love the idea of DJ Hero, but I loathe rap and pop.  If it was all hip hop mixed with all rock I'd be more inclined to play it but, I'm only one opinion.
Posted by Utiow21

Nice, this looked like a four star kinda game. Probably still gonna hold out tho- need Rock Band 3.

Posted by Lepuke

Still a turd unless you are waiting for RB3...

Posted by rjayb89
@Lepuke said:
" Still a turd unless you are waiting for RB3... "
I agree.
Posted by bgbball31

No mention of the freezing issues? Or have those been fixed?

Posted by Bloodgraiv3

Im interested to see their Rock Band 3 review. 
Posted by Peacemaker

The price dropped pretty quickly for the original which I payed full price for.  I think I'm going to hold out for that.  Also, the uneven achievement points are annoying.

Edited by Brackynews
@bgbball31:  Cut a friend. :)
It's kinda funny, given that most every game reviewer probably has a full friends list (considering pending requests also count as full slots on 360)... you MIGHT think that a publisher would want to recreate the conditions that it will be reviewed under.  Guess they will now.
Posted by Foxillusion

Aw. Jeff hated on marvin gaye. I thought grapevine remixed with that gorillaz song was really solid.

Posted by Kintaro

Surprised that the 100 friend bug didn't get a mention, given that it would ruin somebody's day with DJ Hero 2 if they didn't read about that cutting a friend thing.

Posted by CookieMonster

I'd get this, but there seems to be a lot more chart music in this dj hero. I might just pick up the first one instead.

Posted by RiotBananas

This game needs more House, Electro, Drum & Bass, Dance, Dubstep and less Gwen Stefani and hip hop.