Quickie Reviews: Various Heroes

30 11 2009

My apparently not a bargain copy of DJ Hero arrived today. Played it for, like, four hours. Summary review: Awesome, with caveats.

MUSIC: The mixes are 20% amazing, 50% fun, 30% weaksauce. That’s enough of a win in my book. There’s JUST enough Daft Punk in there; once you’ve heard Robot Rock mixed four times you’ve heard it plenty.

PRESENTATION: Other than the crappy “hero” character style which demands hideously deformed muppet people, everything around them is great and syncs well to the music in terms of camera work, lights, animations, etc.

CONTROL: Here’s the trouble. The DJ turntable thing is amazing, and a great idea. But the difficulty curve is completely insane. Basic taps aren’t bad, and scratching works, but the crossfader is sloppy and the game requires absolute precision going in and out of fades, even at Medium skill level. Honestly, I found Medium utterly frustrating and not fun, and that’s not just curve, that’s the controls not being up to the task. …and then? I bumped it down to Easy, where it’s just taps, and I had a LOT of fun. It was challenging enough for Casual Gamey Me, got me into the music, and I couldn’t wait to tackle the next setlist. SO… provided you crave Nintendo Hard or enjoy Casual Easy, you’re fine. Anywhere between and you may wanna look aside.

SOMETHING I JUST DON’T GET: Why did we need a turntable? X, Y, and B plus the analog stick for the fader would’ve done the same job and probably done it better. It wouldn’t be the ‘experience’, but it might’ve moved more units off shelves if it was more akin to Frequency / Amplitude and didn’t need $120 of plastic. I guess Activision just got greedy… and paid the price, much as they’re bathing in blood over Tony Hawk Ride.

OH, AND I ALSO TRIED VOCALS ON THE BAND HERO AND GUITAR HERO 5 DEMOS: and found both to suck. It’s just way too picky, and has a lot of trouble dealing with consonants. Songs I could full combo easily on Expert in RB2 I was maybe 90%’ing in this thing. Add the aforementioned “hero” character art style (also known as “To The Pain”) and, well, guess I was right to pass up the Black Friday deal on this thing…

Once Steam finishes downloading it, I’ll be giving my bargain bin copy of Mirror’s Edge a try, and Borderlands arrives tomorrow along with Brutal Legend. All three were in my Sorta Want category… technical problems or gameplay style issues, but interesting enough to merit a sale-buy.

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9 responses

1 12 2009
tozetre

So would you classify the mix as hard,er, better, faster, or stronger? :D
Also, “Nintendo hard” lol.

1 12 2009
lumenadducere

I hope you enjoy Brutal Legend. I know you were concerned about the controls so hopefully they don’t become too frustrating. As for Mirror’s Edge, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoyed it immensely. I’d very much recommend keeping the Runner Vision on, however.
I’d be interested in hearing your take on Borderlands once you get a shot at it. It’s been getting rave reviews but I’m a bit concerned about it becoming too repetitive without a compelling story to keep me playing.

1 12 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

That’s my concern, too. A storyless game is fine as long as the gameplay itself is compelling. My main concern is solo play being boring combined with the PC networking code being sloppy and weak.
Still, it was only $20, which my book is the top end of the “game which you will find amusing on a casual level for a week or two” tier. I don’t mind a game I don’t play forever and ever; the only games I own which have staying power of that scale are Rock Band and Team Fortress 2. (Left 4 Dead 2 may be entering that pantheon, however, thanks to better level design denying closet campers their easy wins.)

1 12 2009
kowh

I picked up Borderlands on sale as well, haven’t tried it yet. Let me know if you want to try going through some multiplayer.

2 12 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I’m not sure I’ll be able to until I move. It requires like 7 different ports forwarded in your router configuration in order to work, and I don’t have enough forwards available on this router. (For some reason, it only has 10 slots.) Once I move maybe the new house’s router will be able to do it.

2 12 2009
kowh

Should only need to have the host forward ports, so we should be able to give it a go if I host.

2 12 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Okay; I’ll give it a shot sometime.

2 12 2009
Anonymous

Turntable: I seem to remember an article somewhere where the table itself would actually spin, at least partially. Since you’re getting nailed on Medium and I imagine that adding that in would be ‘Hard’ you may just not be seeing it. That can be DONE on a pad (Two analogs) but it wouldn’t have the same feel.
– TH

2 12 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Not quite. The deal is that if you want to do a ‘rewind’, which rewinds the music a bit and lets you replay a music sequence at 2x multiplier, you spin the platter 360 degrees. But in the end, that’s still just a button press, a command saying “I wanna rewind”. The amount or speed of the spin is irrelevant; it’s a single input, when you come down to it.
The differences in skill levels are:
Easy: Buttons and generic scratches only
Medium: Buttons, crossfader, generic scratches
Hard: Buttons, crossfader, scratches must be up/down depending on arrow, more notes
Expert: More notes.
Generally Medium is the core experience, and it requires ridiculously precise crossfading switch manipulation.

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