DJing. A solitary pursuit embarked upon by solo knob twiddlers. Things are pressed, tweaked and twisted by a lonely man standing behind an obtuse set of precision controls and very little in the way of social interaction or showmanship ever comes into it. It’ll never make it on the party game circuit.
But the whole DJ Hero experience has been designed with party play in mind. There's the obvious 2 player vs. mode of course, but FreeStyle Games has also come up with something much more clever. It’s possible to make the game automatically run a customised play list of its mixes, turning it into a sort of jukebox with gameplay. It can run independently in the background of a party, just waiting for any aspiring DJ or curious drunk to jump on when a favourite tune kicks in.
Throw in the facts that GH guitars and mics can also be plugged in for accompaniment and that it’s impossible to fail in this jukebox mode and you’ve got a game cleverly tailored to spontaneous party gaming. Every house party has its quota of musos standing around the PC or decks suggesting playlists. And every party contains its fair share of those “Ohmigoditsmyfavouritesong!” moments, during which previously sedate folk sprint towards the dance floor like rabid lunatics, dragging all unsuspecting bystanders with them. DJ Hero’s party mode is tailor-made for both of those situations. It should be a blast.
After piggybacking on Rock Band’s concept for its third official sequel, GH now looks to have gone as far as it can. With part five offering only incremental tweaks like drop-in, drop-out co-op and mid-song instrument switching, it’s highly debateable whether the franchise can take another follow-up outside of new song collections (which should arguably be DLC anyway).
So we reckon Activision needs a new music franchise to take over the mantle. With a fresh new direction combined with a sharp focus on maintaining GH’s party audience – in both philosophy and peripherals – it seems clear that DJ Hero could be exactly that series. It plays and sounds unlike anything you’ve laid hands on before, and it just might be the most genuinely creative music game we’ve seen to date. See you on the turntables.