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Who's the Hero?
In the Guitar Hero tradition comes DJ Hero - but it’s better. Much better. Rhythm games where you press buttons in time with the music are good and nobody will argue against their success or entertainment factor. But what's missing is a feeling of control - of being able to do more than just pressing a digit against a button on “command.”
DJ Hero blows that out of the water by altering the playing field to make the turntable king of the walk. This “controller” lets you do more than just press buttons in time with the tunes; you’re scratching the music and sliding the beats as the music blares (specially prepped to handle all this of course).
The tutorials at the front end will get you up and running fast. That’s not to say you’ll be so skilled, just that you’ll know what to do regardless of whether you’re 10, 20 or 50. Reflexes rule as they do in other rhythm games of course, but at least there’s an Easy level to choose from - if you don’t care that online “friends” will laugh at you.
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Setup is simple enough and a few ‘AA’s take care of powering the controller - but before we get to that let’s talk about where to place the controller. The highfaluting version includes a stand that holds the turntable for you, but those with the basic model (like me) will have to make do putting it on a table or some flat surface. In the bedroom bedroom that means the bed which works good enough but out in the living room with my projector screen (100 inches of joyous big picture) sitting on the couch with the controller isn’t a good solution.
Not that my lap is that tiny or the controller that big - more to the point is that you can get a bit too excited during game play and the last thing you want is for the Turntable to go flying off your lap - wireless or not.
There’s three colored buttons to press on the turntable, and moving it “scratches” the music. There’s also a full scale controller attached to the turntable for working through the menus - the bottom area having a slider for switching between tracks of music as well asa knob for knocking off additional effects. Plus a nice fat “Euphoria” button for catching bonus points.
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Gettng Your Mind Set
The first thing I discovered is just how big the turntable controller is - it’s no lightweight device and comes in two sections. The left section contains controls to use in gameplay, along with a section beneath a panel that duplicates a controller for being able to to navigate the game and make choices (it’s here also that you turn on the Turntable and sync it to the remote module that plugs into one of the USB slots on the PS3). The Turntable section of the controller has the “wheel” and the colored buttons. The two sections go together through friction and pushing into some slots - I found out the hard way that you need to keep the two sections pushed together properly so that they can match up by suddenly discovering that I couldn’t get any of the buttons to react when playing a track. Guess it’s my home theater background betraying me - I thought the lock tab on the bottom was to keep the turntable wheel from spinning - not the controller segment from separating from the turntable!
The basic control starts out in the same manner as that of games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band - three colored buttons that you press in concert with their appearance in a “zone” on the screen as colored markers (notes) travel down one of three tracks till they reach the front of the screen. But where DJ Hero takes off differently is the idea of the Turntable being the controller. This adds “scratching” to the mix; adjusting the turntable’s wheel back and forth changes the quality of the sound and adds another layer of gameplay. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a slider control to switch between the position of the tracks coming towards you. The slider has three positions - left, center, right - which need to be matched to that of the track that has been chosen as the active one. The track zigs in a direction that must be mimicked by the slider in order to continue the music properly. There’s also the knob and the “Euphoria” button to use when the time is right.
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Start it Up Hero
Now you're picking a dude to be your alter ego and then off you go to a location like a club or Mansion to play to the crowd (most are "locked" till you've got some cred). I have to say that the graphics are really cool - the crowd and the noises vieing with the music which plays loud and strong. Hey, you can always use the excuse that you screwed up because you were watching that hot chick dance, right?
There's a great song selection to work with - before you end up downloading more tunes - and once you get past Queen in the tutorials it really starts rocking. Eminem is a lot of fun to toss off at the crowd, but those looking for more rock and roll types will find them here too. So yeh, if you have listened to a radio in the past 30 years you’re going to recognize a majority of these songs. And you’ll dig playing to them too with others in multiplayer co-op and competitive modes besides being by your lonesome.
Just keep in mind that a DJ has got to be tight with the crowd. So work it.
Super cool update: Want to strut your stuff against others trying to jockey the tunes into position? That means getting a second Turntable controller - which is just an easy visit to the Guitar Hero Store or your fav vid-game dealer. Now you can really get it on and try out that DJ vs. DJ competitive mode without having to take turns - hey, maybe somebody else will grab a USB mike and start blasting some comments while your tooling around the tracks!