Gamescom 2010: DJ Hero 2 Hands-On PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Aug 31, 2010
What We Know:
DJ Hero 2, FreestyleGames’ follow up to their well received turntable simulator DJ Hero, aims to expand on the scratching, cross-fading, and turn back…ing from the original game by giving players the kind of freestyle control that was merely hinted at in the previous game. Throw in a second turntable, a microphone, new modes, and a hyper-current track list, and you have all the makings of a fantastic sequel.
What We’re Seeing Now:
FreestyleGames’ Gamescom 2010 presentation was all about driving home the idea that player control has been the primary focus for the improvements and additions made for the sequel. Unlike the first game, which limited the amount of freedom players had when it came to remixing the three music tracks that made up each mix, DJ Hero 2 throws in a host of ways for players to put their own “spin” on the mixes.
For instance, rather than triggering prerecorded “scratches” by matching the onscreen instructions when a scratchable section is available, players can create their own custom scratches during these sections, and the effect is as satisfying as you'd expect. As well it should be since you’re directly manipulating the track, instead of just mimicking the game's pre-rendered scratches, which you'll still do, but not exclusively.
Sample dropping is also back, but now fits in much more naturally than Flava Flav's “Yeaaaaah boyyyyyy” or that airhorn sound available in the first game, as the samples are now actually licensed from the tracks themselves. So when you drop them into a mix, they make sense musically and contextually, and, when combined with the other freestyle elements, like the freestyle cross-fading, they help to make the overall experience all the more convincing and enjoyable.
Speaking of cross-fading, players can now jump between tracks however they see fit. The tracks are all lined up in time, and the words and beats that appear on the separate tracks are indicated by glowing markers on each track, so you can avoid cutting into the middle of a word or a beat when cross-fading, a major DJing faux pas it turns out. Player freedom in this particular area is especially important since, as one of the developers explained, “It’s an homage to that moment when a DJ manages to get two records working at exactly the same time, and he’s able to cross-fade between them, and it sounds good. The first time a DJ does that it’s a very, very special moment.”
In addition to two turntables, DJ Hero 2 also introduces a microphone into the mix, and lets players either sing or rap, depending on the specific track. Singing works just as it does in other music games, using note tracking to determine your success rate, however there’s a separate system for rapping that’s based on beat tracking that requires players to hit the right word at the right beat.
A music game is really only as good as its music, and FreestyleGames have made it a point to include a much more current, and more electronic/dance-centric, track list this time around, and as such, players can expect to mix out to songs from the likes of Eminem, Rihanna, Dr. Dre, Lady Gaga, and the Black Eyed Peas. In addition, DJ Hero 2 will feature exclusive tracks from some of the biggest DJs in the world including David Guetta and deadmau5, many of whom have created custom mixes for the game and even lent their likenesses to it as well.
The two modes demoed for us were the DJ Battle, which is basically exactly what it sounds like, and the standard Party Play mode, which lets up to three players (online or locally) jump in and jump out on the turntables and vocals and play through a continuously playing set list. For DJ Battle, two players alternate sections of a track and try to rack up the best score. The ability to rewind the record to replay a perfectly played section factors in tremendously in this mode, because it means a player could essentially cut out the other player for large chunks of the song, all the while accumulating massive point totals.
At the end of the presentation, I was able to go hands on for a track, and found it to be pretty much everything I’d expected/hoped the first game to be. When all of the new freestyle elements interact and you actually hear your scratches and mixing influencing the songs it’s pretty special. I was genuinely surprised by how much fun I had playing the first DJ Hero, especially given that this kind of music and whole scene is not my thing at all, and the sequel is shaping up to be scratches and fades beyond the previous game (Hopefully that means more frequent and regular downloadable content releases as well), so I definitely can't wait to see how the final product shapes up when it hits shelves October 19.