DJ Hero


posted 11/16/2009 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: 360
There's a plethora of music games for the consoles now from various companies but to keep it fresh you need something different. Activision thinks it has the next big thing though with DJ Hero and after seeing it at E3 I thought this could be a fun game. I've been playing musical games since the first Guitar Hero so it's nice to see something new and fresh come into the review office.

For DJ Hero, a brand new controller was created for the series (Yes, I'm assuming it's a safe bet to think this won't be the last DJ Hero game) with controls on one side and a turn table on the other. Let's start out with the turntable. The top holds three colored buttons and you can spin the turntable continuously in either direction. The top also has grooves just like a vinyl record so you have the feel of an LP when you place your hand on top of the turntable. The three buttons represent the tracks coming down on the highway. So the left green button represents the first record, the blue button represents the second record, and the red button in the middle is for samples. The turntable seems to have a nice heft to it and a good smooth feel when spinning. It doesn't feel too light which is good.

On the left at the top is a cover that when lifted reveals all the basic Xbox 360 buttons. I'm glad they covered this area so you don't accidentally hit it when playing. When you start playing on the harder levels sometimes you get a little over zealous and the hands move everywhere so having this part covered is a smart decision. The crossfader sits on the bottom of this area where you can use it to choose the track to play as well as do the quick crossfading spikes. Above it is the euphoria button and effects dial. The effects dial is similar to the whammy bar on Guitar Hero where you can rotate it around to generate different sound effects. This only happens at certain points of the game which you'll know by a prompt above the record track. When you do turn the dial, you'll get double the multiplier that you currently have up to a maximum of 8X. The euphoria button lights up red when you have euphoria available and that's the same as star power which you activate by pressing the button. This also doubles your multiplier up to a maximum of 8X. You can't get any higher so combining the effects dial with euphoria won't get you any higher than 8X.

There are some issues I have though with the crossfader. For one, I think it's way too loose. It's really easy to go from one side to the other and the click to signify the middle isn't too strong. Also, I think there's too much you have to slide to get to one side or another. During gameplay, I found it too easy to slide to one side when trying to get to the middle even with a lot of practice at times. Maybe with another week or so of playing, I would get used to it but I still would've preferred a stronger feeling crossfader.

The controller is wireless and syncs up to the 360 like any other official controller would. Two AA batteries power the unit but I'm not sure how long you can play with one set of batteries. You can also switch the side that the controls sit so those that prefer to have the turntable on the left side and the controls on the right can do so. As with guitars in Guitar Hero games, southpaws will be able to play with ease.

DJ Hero follows a similar concept to Guitar Hero where a track is played on the screen and you mimic whatever action is presented to you to play the music correctly. Button presses come down which you score by just pressing the corresponding button color as well. Sometimes the green or blue track will slide out to the side. When this happens you push the crossfader to the appropriate side and this action will only play the record that is being selected as well. At certain points you'll see a scratching indicator which means you hold down the colored button and scratch the record back and forth to score. On harder levels, an arrow will represent which direction you have to scratch so for example a single down green arrow means you hold down the green button and rotate the turntable towards you slightly to score. There are also crossfader spikes where you quickly push the crossfader to the side and back to the middle to score.

I did like if you missed a section it wasn't too harsh in letting you know. What happens is the music for the particular track that you miss will stop playing until a small period of time has passed or you succeed in playing one of the items that comes down the highway. You don't hear a harsh sound like in Guitar Hero so it's a little easier to take when you do mess up.
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