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DJ Hero 2 creates genuine musical moments for those who missed, or conveniently side-stepped, the plastic instrument revolution of the last few years. It may be a more introverted experience, but it is all the more intense for it.
Offering the opportunity to (hip-)hop on an entirely new music game bandwagon, DJ Hero 2 brings the art of mixing to the Hero franchise with it new turntable peripheral. Similarities with Guitar Hero, the other game in Activision's 'Hero' franchises remain, but DJ Hero does a lot to distinguish itself from its big brother to create a fresh new experience.
Intimidation can be a hard river to cross, and one especially perilous when burdened with expectation. My familiarity with games means friends assume a certain level of skill, but the music genre leaves me floundering.
Having been away from the UK during the ascension of Guitar Hero and Rock Band I simply missed the boat -- and consequently find myself stranded. Now, returning back to my home of Birmingham, I find myself surrounded by non-gaming friends who easily decimate me on any music game.
It isn't that I am particularly competitive but it began to get uncomfortable, stood by looking befuddled while constantly beaten by people who expected more of me. Shame at my performance drove me to even more mistakes until I became so bad that I began to think that maybe it was time to avoid 'Rock Band' parties altogether.
Part of me knew it was all practice but I was too far behind the curve on plastic guitars to ever catch up. I needed a leveller, something to reset the balance and swing the field back in my favour. Not to win necessarily, but avoiding acute embarrassment would be nice.
DJ Hero 2 offered the chance to actually have an effect on the playback.
This is when I remembered the DJ Hero games, now on their second iteration, a music rhythm franchise that no one I knew had played and that had a chance of being accepted at parties (my attempts to introduce Parappa the Rapper didn't go down well).
Sitting down with DJ Hero 2 still brought its own share of menace though. I am perfectly at home with a regular controller, but these four buttons, fader, dial and plastic turn table were perplexing at first. Happily though, the friend I was playing with seemed no more proficient.
Slowly we both became accustomed to the mock turntable and got used to the strange notation whizzing down the screen towards us. Tapping and scratching our way through various game modes our uncertainty gave way to competition, and DJ Hero 2 did an incredible job of fostering our rivalry.
With a variety of multiplayer modes the two of us could work cooperatively or against each other to mix our way though a set list. The real beauty though was the game's ability to accommodate improvisation where we could really make tracks our own.
While most music games task players with hitting notes in time to the track, by virtue of its musical style DJ Hero 2 offered the chance to actually have an effect on the playback. While the majority of times play unfolded like any other title in the genre, certain cues in the music allowed us to scratch, fade, rewind and even mix.
The mild euphoria I experienced at these freestyle sections spurred me on to win control of them from my opponent
The mild euphoria I experienced at these freestyle sections spurred me on to win control of them from my opponent. Sometimes you needed the highest score while at others you needed to be the first to press a button. Either way the race to seize control became the driving reason for me to improve my game between our multiplayer sessions.
I adored playing DJ Hero 2. With a fantastic selection of blended music, there is certainly a wide appeal to the audio offerings, but the club style unfortunately makes it a little less friendly to groups than Rock Band or Guitar Hero.
The compact nature of the plastic turntable also creates a far more introverted play style that makes it less likely to draw in spectators like Guitar Hero. Even without a party audience it was still a lot of fun. It's just a shame that I guess I will never redeemed myself in the eyes of the Rock Band elite.
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