DJ Hero 2 E3 2010 Preview

QUICK TAKE: Like Guitar Hero before it, the stars are ready to come out for DJ Hero 2 after seeing the success of the first game. And to go with a star-packed playlist, the mechanics of playing DJ also enjoy refinements learned from creating and playing the original.

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Though not to the degree of its rock-and-roll family member, DJ Hero and all its fans who plunked down their cash for turntable controllers earned a sequel. Much of that came on the strength of the soundtrack alone and for the sequel Activision found music makers more responsive to requests after seeing the success of the first game. Already announced are a lineup featuring Deadmau5, Z-Trip, Chemical Brothers, Rihanna, Usher, and host of other big electronica and hip-hop names.

The basic game mechanic remains unchanged but a creative new freestyle element has been added. During these sections the two outside note highways that represent the tracks being mixed widen out and the player has complete control over cross-fading between them. Though brief due to memory limits restricting how long the game can have both tracks user-mixable, this really brings in the creative element of DJing and personalizing a mix. Another small touch that helps authenticity is the incorporation of samples from the tracks being mixed now being used for the center effects channel of the game.

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Recognizing that the music in the game lends itself well to parties, DJ Hero 2 brings over the drop-in drop-out on-the-fly party mode from the last Guitar Hero. In this mode, DJ Hero 2 becomes a video jukebox playing along on its own. Whenever anyone wants to join in they turn on the turntable controller and hop-in without breaking the music. The same goes when they're ready to quit.

DJ Hero 2 multiplayer also adds to the DJ battle mode. During these back and forth contests special phrases such as the freestyle section go to the first DJ to grab them. But getting there first doesn't keep them secure. The other DJ has a chance for a disrupting steal as the music changes, for instance when the track calls for effects. While this should add some competitive tension to the battles it also resulted in some awkward dead spots because after a steal back neither DJ gets to play. After playing it myself, what I think most people will look forward to isn't duking it out for bragging rights but busting out the "Regulate"/"Hot in Herre" mashup at their next party, and with good reason.

Developed by FreeStyleGames and published by Activision, DJ Hero 2 is scheduled for release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii this fall.

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