If there’s anything to be learned on this round planet, it’s that sequels are infinitely harder to make than an original. DJ Hero did something organic in that it was unique, fresh, and gave players not just a taste of the mixing life; but the whole turkey dinner. Activision was quick to flip the record to the B-side and do it all over again with a second installment, and almost as shocking as the first time, they did it again.
Rather than trying to expand on a gimmick or give players something flashy, DJ Hero 2 takes what made the first so popular and refined it. Sticking with your simple three-buttons on top of a spinning disc, you tap the corresponding colors as they fly by, scratching and fading according to the song.
Where the improvements show up in game play are both aesthetically pleasing, and simplistic making it a very tight package. Trading in the fabricated button taps and sounds (YEAAA-BOIII!) players are now given a little more control in the song during Freestyle moments. During the crossfading sections, you can decide how the song and beat will end up. Given a few times to hear the mix, you will feel like a real DJ without the expensive equipment.
This is an important thing, once you start bashing, beating, and mixing some of the mashups in the game. Veterans of the original that blew through the original sets on Expert may have to put back on their training wheels, starting again at Hard until they acclimate. Unlike its predecessor, which felt like it was trying to force some of the songs to have a scratch, a tap, or fade, here it’s real. The songs and sets truly feel like they are a part of the game, and in turn make you work for your keep.
That’s where you get a little bit of help in Empire mode, for those trying to get those high scores and just look fancy doing it. While there’s no real character customization to speak of, players can unlock headphones, clothes, and new decks to give your character some swagger in the clubs. Some of the decks give you an advantage during play, such as a bonus for every successful tap or scratch, or a 5X multiplier instead of 4X. These will come in handy as once you start a set in Empire, you’re in it to win it.
That is, unless, you’re up against another DJ. Setting yourself up against DJ’s like Deadmau5, Rza, David Guetta, and Daft Punk, you’ll square off against them in specific sets of their own mixes in a checkpoint system where you vie for the highest percentage of correct notes. It’s an interesting and unique battle and one that carries over well to multiplayer.
The addition of a second turntable into the mix makes game play both more enjoyable and more interactive allowing the game to truly be the center of a party, rather than the cool thing you have to pass and around and wait forever for. With seven different choices in play, you never really run out of options on something to do. Plus with the ability to drop in or out of Quickplay, anyone can jump right in and start working.
Between an amazing setlist, simplified yet streamlined look and feel, and building on what made it work, DJ Hero 2 is something for anyone that wants to either pretend to be a DJ, or just get their groove on. The only small smudge on an otherwise perfect score is the microphone attachment, which is spotty and the only thing that feels out of place. But really you’re not here to sing… you’re here to scratch out something amazing.
ZoKnows Gaming gives DJ Hero 2 a 9 out of 10