DJ Hero 2 Review

By Dana Vinson - Posted Nov 02, 2010

While DJ Hero 2 still has the turntable and the intimidating notation, don't let that put you off. If you've always dreamed of being a superhero master of the wheels of steel, DJ Hero 2 is your dream realized.

The Pros
  • While the addicting core gameplay is the same, everything else has gotten an impressive facelift
  • Freestyle sections add extra fun in both single player and multiplayer battles
  • Great track list and ability to play sets is amazing
The Cons
  • The vocals are completely worthless
  • The fact that you can tie a computer in a DJ battle is completely baffling
  • You can lose an online battle, even if you hit 100% of the notes

DJ Hero 2 Review:

DJ Hero was a game that appealed to a very niche set of gamers. It's had a scary looking turntable peripheral and there was a lot of information to absorb on the highway while playing the game. Plus, there was the small issue of barebones presentation and mechanics, which didn't help; however, it found an audience of dedicated fans, because once mastered, the gameplay was incredibly engrossing.

With DJ Hero 2, Activision took the addictive gameplay of the first game and made it even better by improving the interface, menus and presentation. For this second iteration, they've also added a ton of new modes, improved online play and added Battles.

While DJ Hero 2 still has the turntable and the intimidating notation, don't let that put you off. If you've always dreamed of being a superhero master of the wheels of steel, DJ Hero 2 is your dream realized. 

Build Your Empire

During the Empire career mode, you battle to go from a no-name DJ to a worldwide celebrity. While it doesn't really feel like you're building a "career," the levels ramp up in difficulty as you go, which provides a challenge. It also provides a nice frame for playing all the mixes in the game. New this time around are the sets you play, that combine several of the songs at once. Each flows seamlessly into another, making you feel like you are actually spinning at a real club.

Also in Empire, you get checkpoint battles with club DJs (which are really simple), but each city (or level) is capped off with a battle with a famous DJ. These end battles are generally more difficult, but not to the point of giving up. The one downer is that DJ battles in career mode can end in a draw. Yes, that's right. You can tie the computer. This is incredibly frustrating, because you'd think that ties would go to the human player, but no. F*&king europeans and their soccer rules.

Speaking of DJs, once you tackle a few gigs in Empire, you unlock your own LIVE avatar as a DJ. It may sound silly, but it is really awesome to watch your own avatar spin records.

During career mode, you can unlock certain mixes and flair for you DJ character; however, most of the mixes are unlocked from the beginning, which makes jumping into quickplay very appealing.

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Some of the greatest improvements have come to the actual gameplay, both in single player and during battles. DJ Hero 2 has added freestyle sections where you control scratches, samples and the crossfader.

While people complained in the first game that there wasn't enough freedom, these freestyle sections give you the ability to decide when you fade from record A to record B and you can make the mix your own. The cross fader freestyle is by far the most rewarding. The scratches are sort of limited by the capabilities of the peripheral, but they are still enjoyable too.

In regards to the sample button, gone are the days of Flava Flav screaming Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. Now, the samples you freestyle are related to the song, at least tangentially. I sort of miss the Yeah Yeah Yeah BOYYYYYYYYYYYY button, but maybe that's just me.


Show Your Stuff

The freestyle sections also come in to play in the revamped battle system. Instead of simply just trying score more points than the other player, you can now pick from a variety of different modes, including checkpoint battles (splits the song up into sections and you have to win more checkpoints than the other person). It evens the playing field a little bit because you can choose a mode that plays to your strengths when battling against someone who is better than you are.

While playing in battle mode, you compete for the chance to use the freestyle sections. When a freestyle section comes down the highway, the player that does the action first gets to play out the freestyle, while the other player gets locked out. It makes for a fun competitive atmosphere. Also, you can steal rewinds from the other player by getting a streak going. It's super fun to be sneaky.

The online battles are great, but many times during checkpoint battles, you'll tie a checkpoint. The game decides a winner based on timing, so even if you tie your opponent at 100%, the game will give the checkpoint to one of you. Sometimes, this works in your favor and sometimes it doesn't. There isn't any feedback as to why one player wins the checkpoint, so it can get a little annoying when you keep hitting all the notes and you still lose.

Along with online and local battles, the hero feed, which scrolls along the bottom of the menus, features updates you on what your friends are doing in-game. If they beat your high score, you'll see it scroll across the bottom of the menu screen, which will prompt you (even if you were about to turn the game off) to play it again. You don't want to be a punk bitch, do you? Also, at the end of every mix you play, you have the option to challenge your friends on the song.

We Like to Party

Quickplay mode is great. You can make and save playlists, "like songs" and it's super easy to jump in and out of play. Plus, all the songs you add to a playlist run back to back with no breaks, so it's actually like you're playing a set, just like in career mode. This version, more than the first, would be incredibly fun to set up at a party and just let people play.

The track list is a little bit more current this time around, focusing on big name radio artists like Lady Gaga, Eminem and Pitbull, but there's still a good mix of different stuff for everyone. There are nods to old school tracks and even lesser known dancehall artists like Vybz Kartel. Chances are, everyone at your little shindig will find something they dig.

Here's Where The Cops Show Up

There's one blacksheep in DJ Hero 2: Vocals. The vocals are &#%@^#& useless and it's a shame they were even included in the game. They are barebones (just the lyrics, rhythm markers and a counter for how many words you've hit in a row) and in a game that's so great, they really stand out as awful.

As if the mechanics weren't bad enough, it's almost impossible to sing the vocals, because you're trying to sing mixes. Even if you know the song really well, you're going to be singing it in pieces and not in the right order. Plus, the speed and tone are messed up because that's the point of remixing a song. The rapping parts are worse. They make no sense and there's no time for you to actually get ready and try to rap it correctly. Oh and wait, it gets worse: when the person who's DJing spins a rewind (which rewinds a few seconds of the song) you have to go back and sing it too, confusing you even further. I would seriously just pretend that the vocals don't exist. Don't bring out a microphone and don't ever try to do it. Trust me.

Pick Up All The Red Cups

If you didn't like DJ Hero at all the first time around, you're probably not going to fall in love with it now, because the core gameplay hasn't changed that much, it's just been improved. If you were lukewarm on the first game, you'll want to try DJ Hero 2, because they've fixed a lot of what made people shy away from the first game and the improvements really do make it feel like a rich, enjoyable experience.

Now, if you only got the groupie love after each set. I guess we'll just have to wait for DJ Hero 3.