Friday, 12 March 2010

Extolling the Virtues of DJ Hero

  • Game: DJ Hero
  • Console: PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
  • Developer: FreeStyle Games
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Released: October 2009
This music-game fad might be over pretty soon if the sales of games like The Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5 can be attributed to a trend of people falling out of love with plastic instruments that turn you into a Rock Idol. It's a shame, as Guitar Hero 5 really did move the genre forward far more than it's two previous instalments and The Beatles: Rock Band is… well it's The Beatles, for fuck's sake. And then there's DJ Hero. On the face of it, why would you spend £90 on a game that you just might not like, especially when you could spend £30 or less on Rock Band 2 and just use your Guitar Hero controller? Then there's the fact that there's literally no party aspect to be had with the game. Sure, you can try to find someone else who has the game to play against, but you don't know anyone who has it. Sure, you can get someone to play guitar while you play DJ, but the songs for simultaneous scratching and riffing are few… and shit. DJ Hero is purely a one player experience, and a hardcore game disguised as casual game. No, you can't fail out of a song, but if you're fucking it up all the fun to be had from it evaporates like the stanky sweat steaming from the drugged-up punters you're supposed to be playing this shit to. No, DJ Hero - as a way to corner the music-game market even more for Activision - is an abject failure. But as a game, as an addition to the multitudinous trudges of music-games that threaten to drown the store shelves in plastic and starve our wallets of our hard-earned, it's a complete success. As a game, DJ Hero can hold its head up high.

Daft Punk are kind of like the stars of the game, and there are a lot of Daft Punk mixes and songs in DJ Hero.

There's a certain feeling you get when you first play a rhythm game like Guitar Hero and Rock Band that has a very subtle excitement to it, like finding out Sean Lock is in the new QI episode you're about to watch. DJ Hero certainly has this, but it seems to extend it for much longer, as there are far more aspects to the game than mere strumming and pressing the right buttons. Firstly, there's the button presses, which are simple rhythm game fare, but then you've got the scratches, then the crossfader, then the directional scratches (which require you to scratch in a certain direction), then the Euphoria (DJ Hero's version of Star Power or Overdrive), then you've got the wiggly things with the weird knob thing, the samples, the rewinds, the crossfade-spikes (I think that's what they're called) and pulling off each and everyone of them gives you that buzz, and it's truly fantastic when you start to rack up the streaks on Expert. You're doing it, man. You're DJing!

And that's where most of the fun from the game shows itself. The peripheral is only an approximation of an actual set of decks, but it's far closer to the real thing than a plastic Guitar Hero controller is to its real-life counterpart (although drumming on an Ion Kit on Rock Band 2 is pretty much exactly like drumming), and because of that it feels like you're actually doing it. It's best to ignore the lower difficulty settings, especially if you've had a lot of experience with rhythm games, so go straight for the jugular on Expert, because when you pull off an up-down-up-down scratch perfectly and in break-neck speed on that difficulty, it genuinely feels like the movements you made on the deck are exactly what came out, which is probably a testament to how well made this game is. When you do perfect crossfades one after the other, with scratches and button presses in between, it's incredibly satisfying, and then PING! You've got a rewind so you can do it all again to prove to yourself that it wasn't just a fluke, and to knock that last highscore for that particular mix off its perch. It really is like spinning plates, and the amount of multi-tasking going on at some points is quite off-putting to the first time players, but if you keep at it, you can be shredding vinyl with the best of them.

That green thing on the left is a freestyle scratch section. You can do whatever you like here, so long as you're scratching. These disappear in the later difficulties for stricter scratch sections, which are far more satisfying to pull off.

So, to the mixes themselves, all 93 of them. That really is a vast number, and although some songs crop up more than once (Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz and Fix Up, Look Sharp by Dizzee Rascal are notable for appearing several times), none of the mixes are that similar at all. The best mixes are the ones that really push your skills, but perhaps not to breaking point. There are some very, very hard mixes in the game but if you keep practising you can really get a lot of fun out of 5 starring them, and then beating your highscore over and over again. The amount of mixes and the different genres used (from electronica, dance, trance and dub, to mainstream pop, RnB and rock) means there's probably something for everyone. Unless you only listen to classical or whatever type of 'World Music' is fashionable this week, you'd be hard pressed to not find at least one mix that you enjoy. Also, because it's not all rock, then there really is some incredibly funky stuff going on, so while the guitar-based rhythm games let you rock out, this one will get you dancing, or have your ribs rattling thanks to all that awesome, awesome bass. When you do find those mixes you like best, you can stick them all into your own playlist that saves, so you can keep coming back to it and play all your favourite mixes in one chunk over and over again. Have more than 8 mixes you like? There's another playlist you can save, too! Why didn't anyone think of this before?

DJ Hero is probably one of the best rhythm games out there. It's not all positives, though. As anyone who has been to a nightclub with a proper DJ will know, the mixes played there are mixed together, creating one seamless eight-hour cacophony, and although you can see the logistical nightmare it'd be to have each mix seamlessly mix with the next, it's a shame that it doesn't (or can't) to create that authentic nightclub experience without the sweat, sick and slags. Also, there must be a way to create your own mixes, surely. Maybe that's for DJ Hero 2? If that's the case, then I don't think this music-game fad is a fad after all (not that I thought it was in the first place).

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DM said...

life element = that which you need to live, i.e, light...

Einstein puts the final nail in the coffin of atheism...



atheists deny their own life element...

add some comment moderation to your blog of blasphemy...idiot...

TheFighterOfFoo said...

Blog of Blasphemy! Fuck, that's an awesome name for a blog.

Jesus was a shit-eater, fuck yeah!

TheFighterOfFoo said...

Also, aren't you supposed to be picketing the funeral of a soldier or something?