Monday, December 20, 2010

Old Schoolin' - Dj Hero 2 Old Skool Mix Pack Review

It’s a good time to be a DJ Hero player.

Not only do we have what is considered the best game soundtrack released this year, but the usually unruly and stingy Activision has been supporting this game through the roof! No, really. Even Guitar Hero hasn’t seen this kind of support this year, and with FSG’s immense talent, it’s easy to see why they’ve thrown all their support behind this one. Hip-hop fans however, get shown a ton of love here. A great deal of the mixes in the game have much to do with that genre and R&B, and while the techno/electro fans complained that they didn’t get enough of what they loved, several excellent DLC packs did well to keep them at bay for a bit. But what of the crowd that needs their 32 bars? Sat idly by while the techno downloadables were too far out of their genre to even consider? Crossed their fingers and hoped this tidal wave of that which bumps and shocks would subside?

Their wait is over.

FSG’s back with the Old Skool Mix Pack, and just in case you felt like questioning their street cred, they’ve brought Tone Loc, Fat Boys, and The 45 Number among others with them.

Is it what we've been waiting for?

DJ Hero 2 "Old Skool Mix Pack" (Downloadable Content)
For: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii (Songs sold as individual tracks)
Publisher: Activision/Freestyle Games
Price: 480 Microsoft Points, $5.99 PSN, 300 Wii Points (per track)
Release: 12/14/2010

Reviewed on Expert difficulty

Beastie Boys - “Triple Trouble” vs. Tone Loc - “Funky Cold Medina”

It wouldn’t be “old skool” without the Beastie Boys, would it? While this is indeed a fact, the song Triple Trouble isn’t exactly their earliest work. This is a notion that quickly disappears once you realize what it’s being mixed with, the inimitable Funky Cold Medina! Since both songs use almost exactly the same instruments their mix is a deft one, with the Boys dominating the lyricism, and Tone Loc’s trademark drawl saved for the samples. While it is a funky mix, and there’s a hint of Loc busting out during the scratchfest that dominates the latter 3rd, it seems like a bit of a missed opportunity as far as a mix goes. I was hoping for a bit more FCM in the mix than there was on display, but I realize, it would’ve changed the tempo of the song drastically. Overall a moderately challenging song that displays hints of true greatness, but merely settles for being a cool track.

Rating: 3/5

Fat Boys - “Human Beat Box” vs. Mantronix - "King Of The Beats"

Now THIS is what I’m talking about! I knew I was in a treat the minute the song opened with the Fat Boys’ memorable beatboxing line (STICK EM!), and the song quickly segued into Mantronix’s amazing electronic beatmaking. Almost as if this is a fight between human and electronic beatboxing, the song constantly switches back and forth between the two in a way I can only describe as mindblowing. Each tap is a sample cued on rhythm, each freestyle section lets you mess around in a way that truly makes you feel in control, and I have to say, this is the closest feeling I’ll ever get to being a DJ of the 80’s. This is not only because the freestyle sections are abundant and cleverly placed, but it’s also due to some of the most creative scratch patterns I’ve ever played in a DJHero song to date. I even dropped my streak several times during the mix because I’d gotten so into it, I couldn’t help but throw in an extra tap or two along the way. Amazing.

Rating: 5/5

Tag Team - "Whoomp! (There It Is)" vs. The 45 King - "The 900 Number"

..and we’ve settled back down, with a mix that somewhat again reeks of a bit of missed opportunity. While Whoomp! is a definite classic, the decision to mix it with the slick (but repetitive) The 900 Number is what ultimately holds the mix back. You can only do so much with an amen break, and FSG did the best they could, augmenting Tag Team’s lyrics with the signature loop while chopping and screwing the lyrics for a good 1/3 of the song before letting it flow smoothly. The end result is a track that’s more fun to play than listen to, and the abundance of scratches and mad crossfades abound don’t do too much to distract from what is really just a lukewarm track. Not hot, not cold, just somewhere inbetween. Is that a bad thing when FSG’s production overall is better than most of what’s out there? No. But it is a bit of a rub, especially after that stellar second track.

Rating: 2/5

I entered this pack with the highest hopes, and a momentum that showed no sign of slowing, and I honestly walked away a bit underwhelmed by this one. It shouldn’t have been this way though. We had the Beastie Boys, we had Tag Team, even Tone Loc was along for the ride. This should’ve been a recipe for amazing like all the other tracks, but surprisingly, it’s the track selection that I feel did most of the damage here. While all the songs were definitely beloved classics, they just didn’t fit together as well as I hoped they would, nostalgia be damned. With the highest point being the amazing Fat Boys/Mantronix mashup, it makes the other two tracks stick out like sore thumbs, and it shouldn’t be this way when a great deal of Freestyle Games’ work is consistently excellent throughout. It’s good for what it is, but by no means a rush out and must buy..and for once, I envy the Wii owners’ purchasing scheme. Purchasing the second track alone would’ve made me feel much better about the money I spent this time around.

Overall: 6.5

(With a loss of upward momentum comes nothing but worry for the forthcoming Linkin Park pack.Here’s hoping this was a momentary misstep, and that it turns out excellent, instead of merely just good.)

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