Review: DJ Hero

on November 11, 2009 8:00 AM

DJ Hero is Activison’s newest take on the music genre which looks to put the player in the role of the club DJ. DJ Hero follows a similar style of Guitar Hero but makes very quick departures as you actually use a turntable and only hit three notes instead of the traditional 5 from the all too familiar guitar titles. Does DJ Hero scratch its way to fame or go the way of the cassette tape?

DJ Hero is probably the most fun I have had with a game in a long time and that says a lot with the stacked lineup of titles that have come out this year. Is it perfect no, but it is fun and it really makes you feel like a DJ ruling the wheels of steel. The DJ Hero turntable is pretty realistic in feel and style while doing a great job of mimicking the different movements that a DJ must employ to make a crowd go crazy. You can cross fade from one song to the other with one lever, scratch using three notes, add in free style and sample effects via a dial and also trigger ‘Euphoria’, which is basically Star Power by pressing a flashing red button. Also expect to see the highway of notes stream down your screen but this time with a little bit of flare for mix notes and cross fades. The “science of DJing as Grandmaster Flash” said is in full affect for all gamers to take part in and learn.

dj-heroThe controller and style of the game are easy enough to pick up and learn but very difficult to master. You can choose between five difficulties: Beginner, Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert. Hard and Expert definitely live up to their names and anyone who thinks this game is simple needs to bump the difficulty up and unlock the later songs where techniques become much more challenging and speeds are ramped up drastically. DJ Hero can be played locally in coop, online in DJ battles and even in coop with a guitar, so get ready to DJ in all kinds of different ways. Once again each song can earn you up to 5 stars which will be your key to unlocking all DJs, decks and songs, so get ready to collect all 465 stars.

You gain Euphoria for playing certain sections perfectly and can employ it using a glowing red button on your deck. Not only does it give you double points until it runs out, it also allows you to ignore having to cross fade while it is active. This comes in handy during difficult parts where you have to cross fade and use the effects or in very complex cross fading sections so you don’t break your point streak. The Effects zone are denoted by orange bridges over a particular section and in these sections you need to tweak the Effects knob in order to crank up your multiplier, this usage of Effects could mean the difference between 4 and 5 stars on some sets. One major difference in gameplay from other rhythm games is that you will no longer have to worry about failing out of a song, you can play on Expert and stink it up but the song will go on, the only thing that will suffer is your score and your stars.

dj-hero-5There are some drawbacks to the game like a limited selection of samples, you get a total of 10 sample styles to choose from and two of them are Flavor Flav. You are also limited to using one of the pre-made16 DJs in the game and cannot make your own avatar which would have been a great addition. There are some options for different outfits, some styles of headphones, different decks and skins for your decks, but this falls a bit short. In the not varied category also falls having only 9 venues to play at during your DJ travels, which isn’t that terrible since it makes you focus more on the music than the ambiance. My main gripe was with the Freestyle Sample Zones that don’t do much, other than hearing Flava Fav say “Yeah Boy” it does not do anything else and you can actually mash the buttons during this section ruining the song. It would have been nice to see them incorporate that a bit better since it is truly the only section where you can add your own style to the songs.

I hope I can rest easy and expect a DJ Hero 2 but if not you can download more songs to play with from the online store giving you even more tracks to play with other than the 90 plus that come pre-loaded with the game. There is a lot of replay value in this title to unlock all the stars which will give you different outfits and open up venues but more importantly this is a great party game where you and some friends can get together and enjoy some classic songs. I definitely recommend DJ Hero for any hip hop or DJ enthusiast who is looking for different music and a different experience than what is offered in Rock Band and Guitar Hero.dj-hero2

  • Game: DJ Hero
  • Developer: FreeStyleGames
  • Publisher: Activision
  • MSRP: $119.99 (Standard) $199.99 (Renegade Edition)
  • Release Date: 10/27/2009
  • Review Copy Info: This Review Copy was sent by/on the behalf of the game’s publisher/developer for reviewing purposes
 /  Co-Founder
Al has been gaming as long as he can remember and will continue to game until his fingers break off or video games cease to exist. A New York native born and raised he crashed into the gaming journalism scene in 2006. Since then he has become the on air personality for DSTV and loves every second of cursing while interviewing developers about serious topics. Aside from being a gamer he also has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering that does not help in the gaming world but does provide for fun stories when people say "what?".Favorite games: Contra (NES), Mega Man II (NES) and Final Fantasy III (SNES)