Review: We get jiggy with DJ Hero 2

And the Lord spoke unto Moses upon the mountaintop. Take these two turntables and yon microphone down to the people sayeth the Lord, and rock out on thy wheels of steel, and yea all shall be good in the world. Moses heeded the Lord’s words replying, I shall do as thy asketh O Lord, and I shall scratch most vigorously, sample and fade most diligently, until I have smote all in thy path demanding they check thyselves before they wriggeddy wreck thyselves… and the Lord was pleased and thus began the Second Renaissance of Man.

The second coming of DJ Hero, also known as DJ Hero 2 amazingly enough, is a mission statement to any developer working on a sequel. It is your duty to maintain all the awesome of the original, address and correct every niggle and annoyance that wasn’t and deliver the goods. As a huge fan of the previous version (and Hip-Hop in general), and considering the path of other music inspired titles like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, I was expecting very little to change. Perhaps a coat of new paint at most, not the welcome tinkering under the hood that DJ Hero 2 received.

DJ Hero was a ridiculously enjoyable party game. It was the perfect balance of fun and challenging gameplay, though it did have some issues. The menu system was unnecessarily trying to navigate, the song difficulty was inconsistent and it didn’t fully capitalise on the opportunity to battle against your mates. DJ Hero 2, however, is in my humble opinion, the finest music based title the videogame industry has yet seen.

Everything about this sequel is a logical progression. You start flitting about random tracks, with each set in order of difficulty and it even breaks it down further to differentiating between scratches, samples, crossfades and the like. Here is where you get your feet wet. Once you feel comfortable enough, it’s time to tackle Empire Mode, where you try to win the crowd over several mega-mixes (each lasting at least 3 songs) testing your mettle and endurance to get a consistent 5 star rating. If you do, you challenge the resident DJ to battle and move on to the next venue building your club cred, which is a brilliant way to become acclimatised with the deeper versus mode.

There are ample options available for co-operative or competitive play (and you can even break out on the mic) with modes pitting you against each other to see who can have the longest hit streak, (with tactics involved as to when you “bank” your run), go head to head in normal play, battle sections to see who wins each song segment and you can even play on differing difficulties to find that gaming sweet spot. It all leads to greater interactivity and a helluva lot of fun and smack talking.

As well as all the new bells and whistles, there is a significantly stronger focus on freedom, indicated by the numerous “Freestyle” sections in each mix. Here, you’re encouraged to scratch, sample and fade to the beat of your own drum, with points dished out for innovation and originality. It really does make you feel like each mix is your own, and a fantastic addition to the franchise.

As far as the tunes you’ll cut up? The chasm between styles isn’t so wide this time, with some truly masterful mixes that I really don’t want to spoil, rather let you uncover them for your own. There’s enough of a section of old and new school Hip-Hop, pop rock and electric beats to satisfy any music taste.

There not much to fault about DJ Hero 2. It’s intoxicating, addictive and damned hard to walk away from, as you try to get that 5 star rating on just one more track… just… one…more. Go out and grab it today!

9/10

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Dave Kozicki

Shotgun Samurai
Video game reviewer, presenter and enthusiast. Film and TV-aholic. Pop culture geek. T-shirt and sneaker addict. All around nice guy and one hell of a sexy beast. Writer for Official PlayStation Magazine AU, AusGamers and Hyper Magazine.