Highly anticipated music video game DJ Hero was first to get the party started at this year's E3 video game industry convention. Coming October 27th for PS2, PS3, 360 and Wii from Guitar Hero maker Activision, a surprise pre-show performance Monday night at Los Angeles' Wiltern Theater starring Jay-Z and Eminem heralded the title's first major hands-on showing.
"With DJ Hero, we open the doors to other types of music including hip-hop and electronica," said Chris Lee, Commercial Director for developer Freestyle Games, previously known for its work on breakdancing title B-Boy. "It's not simply about trance DJs from Europe or hip-hoppers from Detroit, though. What you'll hear here is just good music."
(Don't miss our list of the 50 Best Rock & Roll Video Games of All Time.)
In the game, players employ a custom plastic turntable controller to spin and scratch along with exclusive mixes created by the likes of DJ Shadow, DJ AM and DJ Z-Trip. More than 80 tracks will be featured, each a mash-up of two songs sold only as part of the package. Featured pairings include unlikely duets such as Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" with Rick James' "Give It to Me Baby," and Foo Fighters' "Monkey Wrench" coupled alongside the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage."
Using three stream buttons, a crossfader and effects dial, users must keep time with color-coded on-screen prompts, which speed along a virtual depiction of a spinning record. Unlike the straight lines along which icons travel in Guitar Hero though, this so-called "note highway," which resembles the grooves on a vinyl disc, can also curve and zig-zag. Arrow indicators, which periodically appear, further signify the need for scratching, some allowing users the option to do so dynamically, while others demand turntable movement in a specific direction.
Taking the place of Guitar Hero's "Star Power," a "Euphoria" option, accessed by hitting notes successfully enough times to build a corresponding meter, can additionally be tapped to boost score multipliers. A number of preset and freestyle acoustic samples from booms, zaps and blaring sirens to horns and bullets are also accessible, offering several ways to remix any given tune. During play, a 3D montage of mind-expanding imagery including scantily-clad revelers, face-painted musicians and throbbing, strobe-lit dance floors appears to complement the action.
Multiplayer modes include "Guitar vs. DJ" play using a Guitar Hero or compatible controller, with dueling deck "DJ vs. DJ" options also available. A microphone peripheral can be plugged in for vocal accompaniments as well.
"We've tapped into different eras and genres to deliver the best experience possible," asserts Lee. "But most importantly, we're delivering music that people have never heard before and certainly have never been able to play in a game."