Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Return of the Pack - DJ Hero 2 DLC Review

This is late.

Arguably, I've been busy, or you could say I've just been busy playing this.

The love affair with DJ Hero 2 continues. Even a month later. The music's still amazing, the mixes are still fun to play, and I've even picked up the mic more than a few times to go along with what my friends are doing on the wheels of ...plastic?

Ahem. It's a great time.

But we aren't so easily satisfied. With the learning curve and amazement of innovation missing this time around, returning players and pros are already clamoring for more music. Most of all this particular reviewer has bee scratching his neck feverishly, and can you blame him? They've promised to consistently deliver, with the first pack hitting two weeks after release.

If what I experienced last week was any indication of what's to come for the next 12 months, then...oh man.

DJ Hero 2 "Hit Makers Pack" (Downloadable Content)
For: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii (Songs sold as individual tracks)
Publisher: Activision/Freestyle Games
Price: 640 Microsoft Points, $7.99 PSN, 300 Wii points (per track)
Release: 11/4/2010

(Pack was reviewed at Expert Difficulty)

The first thing that immediately stands out about DJ Hero 2 are the high production values. Not talking about the graphics, but the music. Just about every track is so well produced, so seamlessly cut and mashed it's almost startling to play. It's something that has to be seen to be believed. Everything feels so professional, so alive, it evokes an almost incredulous moment of disbelief that you're experiencing them through a turntable controller instead of an actual deck, or in a club.

This feeling carries over into the DLC almost to a tee, with three mixes hitting all the right notes in a way that feels like FS Games are asking us--

"What, you thought we were done?"

Usher feat. Will.I.Am - "OMG"

Going off this track alone, the answer is no. The only remix of the pack that isn't a mashup, it sounds largely the same, but definitely has a higher tempo and feels even more like a Black Eyed Peas track than it did before. The upside is that this song's lyrics make sense, and it's hell of a lot of fun to play. Challenging taps, some fun freestyle parts, and some fun rhythmic scratches make a very danceable track even better.

Rating: 5/5

Big Boi feat. Cutty - "Shutterbugg" vs. Mark Morrison - "Return Of The Mack"

Easily the standout track of the entire pack, this mix of Shutterbugg with the classic Return of the Mack is not only the best mix in the pack, but it's one of the best mixes in the entire game. Big Boi's boisterous lyrics fit in perfectly with Morrison's returning player theme, and what results is an excessively smooth track that even manages to incorporate En Vogue in one part. Disappointingly, it doesn't have many freestyle crossfade sections, but it's a minor complaint.

The song just reeks fun and old-school flavor, and is a blast to play as well, with clever crossfades, well placed samples, and one (aww) freestyle crossfade that lets you blend Shutterbug's jumpy beats and RotM's smooth draw to great effect towards the end. It's just superb.

Seriously. I dare you to listen to "Return of the-- B.I.G. B.O.I." and not shift in your seat with excitement.

Rating: 5/5

Rihanna - "Umbrella" vs. Marvin Gaye - "Let's Get It On"

It sounds strange in a preview, and even as a complete song, it still sounds odd. But there's something about the closing track of this mix pack that just -works-. It may be because mixing Marvin Gaye with anything may be a recipe for success, but Rihanna's come hither lyrics slowed down running over MG's song just feels nice, and makes Umbrella listenable (I can't stand the original). The excessively slow tempo may throw one for a loop, but it's a decent challenge, if only the freestyle sections were more unique, but there's hardly anything to play with on the few times you do get to have control. Pretty solid, pretty cool, but definitely the odd one out.

Rating: 4/5

Saving the best for last, the backwards compatibility update is out as well, and more than just a simple import track option, they've also been updated with all of the freestyle moves and new gameplay additions from the sequel! Sometimes the new additions work well, sometimes they just sound strange, but the undeniable cool that comes with playing the DLC tracks from the original and scoring into the stratosphere negates said rough patches (mostly related to samples). Also, call me crazy, but it seems as if more post production was done on each track, because they sound MUCH cleaner than they did before. It's just a shame you can't "like" the track like the on-disc songs, but it's hardly a deal-breaker. Even though this update took a while, it was well worth the wait.

Rating: 5/5

I'm always happy to announce when Freestyle Games has done it again, and they have. This pack is a great way to kick off all the new DLC, and because the backwards compatibility update is out as well, now couldn't be a better time to be a DJ Hero 2 player.

Here's to the Electro Mix Pack on Tuesday, yes?

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