E3 2009: The Five: DJ Hero
The World Tour: Leaping off in an obvious direction from Guitar Hero, DJ Hero packs in a turntable-like controller and a collection of unique mixes of popular songs with input from superstar DJs like DJ Shadow.
1. The true heyday of the mash-up may be a few years in the past, but DJ Hero boasts 80 unique mixes and mash-ups. Check it: Gorillaz and Marvin Gaye; Rihanna and Motörhead; David Bowie and KRS-One. Roughly 60 mixes were created in-house at developer FreeStyle, and they'll be unlocked from moment one. The balance of the tracklist was mashed together by luminaries like DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, Z-Trip and DJ AM, but you'll have to unlock those tracks by rocking the tables.
2. Playing the game, you'll see a curved "note highway" similar to that in Guitar Hero, but this one only has three paths. Each corresponds to one of the three colored buttons on the turntable controller. You might only have to hit the proper button in time with the song or, on harder difficulties, hold the button while performing scratch movements with the platter. On expert, you'll have to scratch more or less in the exact forward-and-back patterns used by real DJs.
3. There's more to do than just scratching. In fact, that's only the base mechanic. The real tool of the DJ is the crossfader, and while attempting the game's higher difficulties players will see spiky prompts on the note highway that instruct them to either quickly slap the fader from right to left to highlight one-half of the mix, or rapidly tap it to chop a beat into pieces. That's where things really get difficult, and realistic. There's also an effects knob to tweak the sound of your mix; it's basically the game's version of Guitar Hero's whammy bar.
4. Not all the tracks are turntable-only. On 10 songs, there is the option to play guitar alongside the DJ. Connect an axe and for those songs a Guitar Hero-like note highway will pop up (the code is replicated, not taken directly from the Guitar Hero games, which is slightly odd) so you can jam on one-half of a mash-up while the DJ scratches. FreeStyle demoed "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys mixed with "Monkey Wrench" by the Foo Fighters, with the latter track played on guitar as an instrumental.
5. With those features, what could possibly go wrong? How about when a drunken friend plugs in a mic to take advantage of the vocal freestyle option? The game doesn't support singing per se, but you can rap, talk, shout, or make guttural chimp noises over tracks, at least until someone takes the mic away.
The Crispy Forecast: Bright. The mixing mechanics look good, and more than challenging enough on hard and expert levels. But the game could hinge on the quality of the mixes; I've heard some that were great and a couple that induced cringes.
This preview is based on a developer-driven demo of the game at E3 2009.