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Platform: PlayStation 3

DJ Hero 2 Review

A fun music title that will let everyone take control of the dance floor

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DJ Hero 2 is a music rhythm video game and a sequel to DJ Hero, which was released a mere year earlier. Everyone familiar with Activision's other big music franchise, Guitar Hero, may be rightfully worried that the sequel arrived too quickly and packed few new additions. However, rest assured that DJ Hero 2 is a great follow up to what was already a fun and unique music game that still feels as a fresh take on the genre. From expanded solo play and local multiplayer to the online battles and megamixes, this sequel is well worth checking out, even for those still new to the franchise.

DJ Hero 2

Much like the original, the basic gameplay in DJ Hero 2 focuses on simulating the performance of a DJ mixing one or two songs using a special turntable controller. Anyone who has played a music game in the past will be able to quickly get into the game, as the mechanics are rather similar. The player's goal is to match the beats and notes that are coming down the track on the screen, and the music is dynamically adjusted during successful alterations. From the basic note hits to crossfades and scratches, the gameplay is fun but can be challenging. Depending on the difficulty setting, the game saves the most complex moves (such as spikes and directional scratches) to the Hard and Expert difficulty settings, which is an interesting decision. That way the players are not only challenged by the amount of required inputs on higher difficulties, but are also having a significant impact on the song they are performing, which is great.

There are also mechanics that add variety to the basic gameplay, such as the Euphoria meter. This meter acts similar to the “star power” from Guitar Hero series. The meter can be filled by hitting all the notes perfectly during certain highlighted sections of the track – and can then be used to temporary boost the score multiplier as well as cross-fade automatically. After getting a note streak, the player also gains a rewind power, which backtracks the song to the previous set checkpoint, and lets the player attempt the section again with double the multiplier. The star rating system is also implemented, but does not affect the gameplay very much. There's also no way to fail a song in the game – simply, a lane of the music track is temporarily faded until the player recovers, which makes for a further player-friendly experience.

Probably the most entertaining addition to the game are the freestyle sections. Now the players are able to freely scratch, cross-fade and hit notes during certain parts of the mixes. These sections are very fulfilling and allow players to express their true creativity, particularly with the cross-fading parts, as you're able to freely switch between two music tracks. The game now also supports vocalists, though this is likely the least fun part of the game since it's quite difficult – as you would imagine – to sing during mixes of different songs. The game scores the singers on pitch, beat and rhythm, but again it's just not very fun especially before you learn the lyrics.

DJ Hero 2

Outside of the gameplay, the title features a single player Empire mode, that lets the player finish most of the mixes in the game in a specified order, while unlocking various bonuses. There are several locations in the game, each with unique presentation and track lists, and a certain amount of stars are required before progressing to the next area. Each area contains a few setlists of 3 or 4 tracks, as well as a bonus mix. There are also DJ Battles, which are a fun challenge against the CPU-controlled DJs as you play a track interchangeably. These are optional, and provide a good challenge as well as practice for the game's multiplayer modes.

In DJ Hero 2, online multiplayer is much improved thanks to personalized avatars, stat tracking, and better scoring mechanics. Players select the track for their opponent to play, but choose their own difficulty. The game scores players based on how well they play the track selected by their opponent, though it's allowed for the difficulties to be different – one player could be playing on medium, while the other on hard. The game still scores the players based on how well they perform on their level, ie selecting easy mode does not guarantee a win. The multiplayer lobbies are easy to host and join, resulting in a smooth and fun experience.

The game continues to shine in offline multiplayer as well. DJ Hero 2 supports up to three players, two at turntables and one at a microphone. It's quite fun to challenge your friends to DJ battles similar to those in Empire mode and see who's better at mixing. With the press of a button in the main menu, the game begins “party mode” which streams tracks non-stop and is perfect for pickup and play at, well, parties. Both online and offline multiplayer in DJ Hero 2 is smooth, easy to start, and really doesn't have many issues.

DJ Hero 2

DJ Hero 2 comes in a variety of retail packages for every player need. There's the standalone game, a bundle with a turntable, and a bundle with two turntables and a microphone. The price point remains a tad high for the turntable bundles, but that's to be expected when hardware costs are involved. Owners of the original game will be happy to know that the controller for DJ Hero 2 is identical (except for one color) to that of the original game, so there is no need to shell out the extra cash. The track list is also solid, including hits from both modern artists like Lady Gaga and Eminem, as well as classic acts from both coasts. Perhaps the only complaint about the tracklist is that some songs are remixed more than once, with a different accompanying track, which is not always different enough.

As some fans continue to criticize the Guitar Hero series for becoming stale and repetitive, DJ Hero 2 is anything but. Though it came out only a year later, the game improves upon its predecessor in many meaningful ways, adding both to the gameplay experience and the sheer fun factor. The single player Empire mode lets players get familiar with the game before taking it to the next level with online and local multiplayer. Fantastic megamixes and ease of setting up party play will probably make DJ Hero 2 a hit at any gathering. Given that the turntable does not require a purchase for owners of the original game make the sequel a very fair value. Even those with a mere passing interest in club dance music, whether listening or mixing, are advised check this game out. Fans of the first game and the genre, meanwhile, shouldn't hesitate to pick this up.

Our ratings for DJ Hero 2 on PlayStation 3 out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
The game's slick menus and stylized visuals are pretty much what you'd expect.
Improving upon its predecessor, the game allows for more freestyle to really make the mixes unique.
Single Player
The Empire mode is a focused way to play through all the songs, with the DJ battles thrown in to prepare the players for competitive mixing. Microphone is a nice addition but proves to be too difficult at times.
Quick, easy to get into and fun both online and offline. Things like picking your opponent's track is a nice twist to the formula.
Runs without any problems. The ability to use the same turntable from the original game is sure to save money for existing fans.
DJ Hero 2 is a great sequel that keeps the gameplay design fresh and keeps providing a unique experience.
DJ Hero 2
DJ Hero 2 box art Platform:
PlayStation 3
Our Review of DJ Hero 2
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
DJ Hero 2 is ranked #77 out of 1980 total reviewed games. It is ranked #12 out of 105 games reviewed in 2010.
77. DJ Hero 2
78. Grand Theft Auto V
Xbox 360
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