In a genre that is quickly becoming flooded with plastic instruments, DJ Hero stands alone.
It is an ambitious new entry in Activision's line of rhythm games and one that stands well on its own merits. Sadly, it has a few issues that hold it back.
The most important aspects of rhythm games are the songs and the controller. DJ Hero does very well in the music category. Mixes of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, Queen and Daft Punk, and the Jackson 5 and Third Eye Blind are just a few examples of some of the great songs in the game.
There are more than 90, so there is no lack of depth.
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DJ Hero does tout itself as a multiplayer game, but this is one area where it falls flat. Only 10 of the songs can be played multiplayer with a guitar controller. The rest are turntable-only. Unlike Guitar Hero, there are no drums or microphone.
Let's be honest: This is a single-player game.
On to the controller. This is an interesting area of the game. Mostly, it succeeds wonderfully, but it can become extremely frustrating. The core of the game is played on the spinning turntable, which contains three "stream" buttons.
To the side of the turntable are a cross-fader, an effects dial and a euphoria button. It should be noted that the turntable is wireless (good) and can be adapted to right-handed or left-handed players (great).
And the entire turntable can be spun 360 degrees to achieve a "rewind," which essentially sends the song a few seconds back in time. This works well to fix errors, but beware the cross-fader position. It can change abruptly and cause more errors.
The game is played with a combination of the turntable, stream buttons and the cross-fader. Players have to fade the song left, right or center with the slider, simultaneously hitting the corresponding stream buttons on the turntable and scratching back and forth with the table itself.
The euphoria button is simple, and it's used only to activate "euphoria" (think "star power" on Guitar Hero) for a high multiplier score.
The turntable and stream buttons work well and tie in impressively with the cross- fader, but the effects dial implementation is frustrating. The dial serves multiple purposes: it's a makeshift "whammy bar" during certain parts, and it controls samples that you can inject into the song. It's frustrating, to say the least.
In the end, this is a solid rhythm game targeted to lovers of the DJ scene. At $120, it's a little pricey for casual rhythm-game players, but if you can get past the minor irritants with the controller, you can have a lot of fun with some great songs.