DJ Hero comes with a great controller, which represents the turntable and mixer of a real DJ's set-up. The turntable is topped with three coloured buttons - Guitar Hero stylee - with the furthest left button triggering the first record, and the furthest right button triggering the second record. The middle button is used for samples and the crossfader on the mixer allows you to cut between tracks. Don't worry if all of this isn't making much sense, there's a great tutorial with Grandmaster Flash that'll introduce you to the basics.
DJ Hero is available bundled with the controller for £129.99RRP, but there are some great deals online so shop around. There are a nearly 100 mixes in total, aswell as an online component and some local multiplayer options.
Freestyle Games have crafted a game in DJ Hero that won't necessarily please the ZZ Top loving "so not mainstream" crowd, but should appeal to everyone else. This game has an eclectic mix of genres including hip-hop, dance, pop and electronica. Y'know the type of music that you'd probably want to listen to on a Friday night, and has a greater depth of sounds than just a drum-kit, two guitars and a bass.
DJ Hero's entire concept relies on mash-ups. That is, when you take one song and mix it with another one. Some of the best mixes involve tracks you'd never thought would work together — Tears For Fears' "Shout" and Eric Prydz's "Pjanoo", or The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life". So, the latter may be a little cheesey, and they're not all great — but there's a great depth of content in the game and you're bound to find some stuff you love.
DJ Hero is expensive. But it's not entirely unwarranted. The controller that comes with the game is a great piece of hardware. It's wireless, meaning you can play anywhere within the vicinity of your TV without the need for wires. The battery life is great. The whole thing is sturdy and well designed. It just feels like a quality piece of equipment. The moment you get your hands on the controller, it all makes sense - regardless of your preconceptions.
Much like Guitar Hero/Rock band, when you hit a streak in DJ Hero you feel so awesome — like a real DJ. You really can't rival that feeling in any other game genre.
Some people will be put off by the game's challenging learning curve, but stick with it, go through the tutorials and it won't be long before you're blasting your way through mixes. The fact that this isn't just another guitar game, means you'll probably get much more time out of DJ Hero. Learning the mechanics, learning the mixes, and getting good at the game will take practice. Stick with it and DJ Hero will deeply reward you.
While the graphics are probably the least important thing in a music game, DJ Hero is simply stunning to look at. It captures the club-lifestyle perfectly with a range of visual effects to make the music seem all that more exciting.
Naturally DJ Hero has some tracks that can be played in local multiplayer with a guitarist. It's an obvious design choice but, honestly, these mixes are probably the game's worst. Yes, it makes sense to put Foo Fighters in the game; but the mixes don't really gel and the guitar parts are boring due to the games "sample" style.
As part of the game's mechanics, during a mix you'll be given the opportunity to drop samples to customise the mix. These samples can be picked before you play a song. Sadly there are too few of these, taking away the "creativity" this mechanic is supposed to provide.
DJ Hero's gameplay is presented in "sets". Sets represent a selection of songs that, generally, fit together. Unfortunately, unlike a real-life DJ, there are big pauses between the songs. As a DJ game it would have been nice if the tracks could have been crossfaded.
DJ Hero is an expensive, expensive game, so you're going to need to make sure you like the music and concepts before purchasing. Otherwise, we recommend waiting for the price to come down.
Just a minor issue, we've had the game lockup for a few seconds mid-gameplay several times now, and it's causing us to lose points. We assume it's an issue that could be patched, so we hope it is.
DJ Hero features an online component which we will look at in more detail at a later date.
DJ Hero inserts new-found vigour into the stagnating music genre, but its niche concept, high price-tag and challenging learning curve will, sadly, drive many away.