Sunday, 15 January 2012

First Impressions: DJ Hero and DJ Hero 2

I can't deny that I've always been a big fan of games that fit under the genre we call rhythm-action. When playing these music-themed titles, I usually find myself becoming absorbed in the gameplay and make myself want to perfect a virtual performance, constantly restarting whenever I miss one of those ever-important notes or whatever they may be, depending on the game in question. Due to me receiving a fair bit of cash for Christmas last year, I decided to get my hands on not one, but two games both from the same franchise. DJ Hero may have been officially canned alongside its more popular brother Guitar Hero a year or so ago, as publishers Activision prefer to invest their efforts into a certain other franchise that is ever so popular these days (and in case you're wondering, there's no prizes for guessing which series of games I'm on about because the answer is just plain obvious). Still, having played both DJ Hero instalments in the past and thoroughly enjoying them, I practically jumped at the chance to invest in one of the best deals around when it comes down to it, at least in the medium of videogames. Both DJ Hero and DJ Hero 2 along with the turntable controller required to play the games are available on the Amazon website for a cheap as chips £10-£20 (as long as you're buying ten to twenty pounds worth of chips, that is). With an initial RRP of around £100 back in the day, this is a deal that anyone into these sort of games certainly shouldn't miss out on, as I didn't.

Today then, as one of my first journalistic acts of the oh-so big year for gaming that is 2012, I'll be writing a First Impressions post on not one, but two games, namely both instalments in the DJ Hero franchise in case you somehow didn't realise that from the last paragraph or indeed the post title. Since the two games aren't drastically different enough to write two whole First Impressions posts on, I've done the slightly more honourable thing and jammed my opinions on both titles into the same post. This is also a good way to make comparisons between the two, because I'm doubtful that if I get round to reviewing both of these games they will undoubtedly be published in separate posts. So, let's get on with it!

Both DJ Hero and its sequel are in my eyes much more accomplished games than the series they originated from: The ever-popular but now erased out of the picture Guitar Hero games. What I mean by this is that oh-so much more effort has been put into creating the two disc-jockey simulators. Each 'mix' you play has been made specifically for use in the games. While the two songs that make up these mash-ups may not be originally intended for use in this form, at least it's on a much higher level than Guitar Hero which only had unoriginal tracks shoved in there with no alterations. The mixes aren't anything other than professional, either. The first game sees a fair few mixes devised by none other than Grandmaster Flash, the apparent creator of DJing (if that's even a real phrase) alongside others like Daft Punk, all with their own playable avatars. The second game also has some famous faces who work in the medium, such as Tiƫsto, RZA and the astonishing Deadmau5 (as well as the atrocious David Guetta who I refuse to credit in any way for his appearance in the game) again with their own avatars, which particularly helps the latter mentioned Deadmau5, who comes complete with his trademark robotic detachable mouse head. While I'm literally just copying and pasting the names of these famous DJs from Wikipedia, their names will mean a lot more to fans of the medium, and the fact that they all put work into creating original music for a video game is rather amazing. I'm willing to assume they upped their effort after Activision presented them with the bags of money at the doors of Activison headquarters. Moving on...

The gameplay of both titles is pretty much identical, and rather similar to the aforementioned Guitar Hero series that DJ Hero spins-off. The quality Turntable controller often bundled with the titles is required to play, and has you performing different actions using the plastic replica vinyl record with 3 buttons within it, as well as the cross-fader. As icons representing the Turntable's three buttons travel down the 'Highway' on-screen, pressing the required button (red, green or blue) at the right time will score you points. Scratches will also appear on screen, requiring you to hold down the button and move the plastic record back and forth to get it right. Cross-fading is what truly sets DJ Hero apart from other music games, having you switch between the two songs when need be. Overall playing DJ Hero is a lot more clinical than Guitar Hero's maniacal 'rocking-out', and personally I enjoy it a lot more (probably because I'm awful at the latter game). Both DJ Hero titles include a large number of superb mixes, but all in all when it comes down to it one question needs to be asked: Which is better? There's only one way to find out... I'll tell you. The original DJ Hero, when taking into account my personal music taste, has superior tracks to the second game. However, the setlist of the sequel on the other hand, while consisting of more chart-based tunes, is a lot more enjoyable to play than the first despite both games' similarities. I couldn't recommend one of the DJ Hero titles over the other seeing as the second game is bundled by default with the first anyway, so if you're thinking of purchasing one of these titles get yourself on Amazon where you'll find the best deal and get your mitts around DJ Hero 2. Unfortunately, this is all we have time for, ladies and gentlemen. Closing off my first post of 2012, this is me out!

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