The Guitar Hero series has more or less reached saturation point now. Though undeniably fantastic, the recently-released Guitar Hero 5 demonstrates that there's only so much you can do with a plastic guitar. It's for this reason that we're actually surprised DJ Hero took so long to appear, since it provides a much-needed breath of fresh air to a series that's been threatening to go stale for a long time.
Rather than strumming and drumming along with songs as you do in Guitar Hero, the aim in DJ Hero is to mix records together. As a result, DJ Hero's soundtrack consists entirely of mash-ups. If you're not familiar with these, they're basically what happens when a DJ takes two songs and mixes them together to create one song. They do this by switching between the tracks, 'scratching' the records, fiddling with the levels and generally performing all sorts of clever shenanigans to make a single track that should, if all goes well, get the dancefloor jumping.
The mash-ups in DJ Hero are all completely brand new and the vast majority sound great, with some mixed by famous acts such as Daft Punk, DJ Shadow, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Grandmaster Flash and the late DJ AM. There are a couple of stinkers in there - Jackson 5 mixed with Third Eye Blind is one of the most sickeningly cheesy things we've ever heard - but for the most part we found our feet uncontrollably tapping away as we played, and with around 80 tracks on there it's not like you'll be struggling for choice.
Of course, the music's all well and good but DJ Hero could still have been a complete failure had the controller not been up to scratch. For the most part this isn't the case. The three-buttoned turntable is pleasingly weighty and can be sat on your lap or table with relative comfort. The 'spinning' mechanism is nice and loose, allowing for easy scratching without too much effort, which is handy when playing on the Expert setting where every scratch has to be performed perfectly in the exact directions the DJ originally did it when recording the track.
Wheel Of Fortune
We only have a couple of complaints about the controller. Firstly, the cross-fader (which you use to switch between tracks) takes a lot of getting used to. Any time you switch to the left or right track it's tricky at first to get it back to the middle position without going too far and switching it to the other track instead. You'll get the hang of it eventually but it had us tearing our hair out for the first couple of hours.
Our only other gripe, minor though it may be, is that those three buttons are extremely loud and clacky when you press them. This isn't a problem when you're playing the game with the sound booming, as the developers clearly intended. However, if you're playing the game with headphones on so as not to disturb anyone, you may not realise that your loud clacking is actually making them chew their fingers down to the knuckle in pure rage.
The set list consists of around 80 mixes and since the vast majority of these involve two songs being mixed together you'd expect around 150 or so different songs. This isn't quite the case however, as the mixes have been created using a pool of around 100 different songs instead. While this essentially means there's a lot of overlapping (Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl ends up in three mixes, for example, and Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby makes more than its fair share of appearances too), it's not too cheeky since each song sounds drastically different when mixed with another. The aforementioned Jackson 5 vs Third Eye Blind song might sound like someone's injecting you with the most sugary syrup known to man, for example, but when you take the same Jackson 5 song (I Want You Back) and mix it with Jay-Z's HOVA the results are very different.