DJ Hero – 360 – Preview

E3 2009 PreviewE3 2008 GameZone Previews

If one had to pigeon-hole Guitar
Hero, while many titles could be applied, social gaming would have to be up
there on the list. But Guitar Hero appealed to one side of the music spectrum.
Anyone who has been to a dance club knows there is a whole other side to the
music and it begins with the DJs who spin the platters at clubs.

Enter Freestyle Games, one of the
newest development studios to join the Activision family. It seems that the
folks at Freestyle have long been enamored with the DJ lifestyle as well as the
skill these music spin artists create with a couple of turntables and a solid
selection of songs and music samples. So, Freestyle decided to create a
music-based game that incorporated that style of music. But it was not as simple
as one might first think – after all, the initial driving force in the Guitar
Hero franchise was the guitar peripheral. So Freestyle simply decided to do for
DJ Hero what was done for Guitar Hero, build the appropriate peripheral and then
turn players loose with music samples. Sure, there are note streams that need to
be tagged, but there is plenty of opportunity to freestyle and create your own
unique mixes and song samples.

DJ Hero is “all about the music”
said the Freestyle reps. The game is easy to pick up and play, features a huge
song list with more than 100 unique songs (some mixes were specially created by
top DJs for the game). Not only were actual club DJs working on the game, but
several of them appear as playable characters within the game itself.

The turntable peripheral (which Red
Octane helped design) will allow players to mix and scratch, and the setup is
actually a turntable and mixer combination, with an effects dial and
cross-fader. The mixer element is detachable so that it can be flipped for
left-handed players. While Guitar Hero had Star Power, DJ Hero has Euphoria,
which doubles the combo multiplier.

The scratch directions are shown in
the note stream and within the freestyle mode there is a rewind meter that
players can use to back up the record and replay a section of the song. There
are three buttons that reflect on the note stream, one for the first record, one
for music samples and the third for the second record.

DJ Hero might have more of a younger
draw initially, but the skill challenges in creating these dance songs, as well
as the range of music is likely to draw in a huge following. It’s another
example of innovation opening up new modes of gaming.

The title, shown off in May at an
Activision pre-E3 event in Los Angeles, will be ready for retail in the fall.

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