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Interviews

DJ Hero 2

FreeStyle on ditching Guitar Hero, Europe and other games

DJ Hero was one of the most enjoyable - and expensive - new games of last year, and it turned out to be a, ahem, spinning success in the music genre.

Last month CVG travelled to the international DJ capital of erm, Leamington Spa to visit FreeStyleGames, where we grilled Creative Director Jamie Jackson on the more dynamic, less hip-hop-filled sequel, which is looking excellent.

The sequel's out on October 22. Read our DJ Hero 2 hands-on impressions for more.

Hello. How complete is DJ Hero 2 then?

Zoom

Done and done - finished!

How does that feel?

It feels great. We passed first time with everything - which is what we do. We always manage to nail it. It was great; everyone worked stupid hard to get it finished again. Between DJ Hero 1 and now, it's less than a year - launch to launch, dev time that only means nine or ten months. It's nice to be finished, get it done first time and nice to put the bells and whistles on.

So is it fair to say you found the dev process a bit easier with the second game?

Yes and no. Obviously we had the platform and a solid engine, because it's all our own engine and tech, so the building blocks were there - to use an appalling phrase. They were there but we always want to excel and push the boundaries. A Hero product has to be a triple-A product across the board, be it music, graphics or all that kind of stuff.

So on one part yes but on another no. We were still trying to find the ways we can push the boundaries without suddenly having to re-do the entire framework and all that kind of stuff. It was a challenge. We didn't want to sit back and push something out the door - it still had to be triple-A.

What are your expectations in terms of public reception?

All I can say really is that we've done a fair few hands-ons now, we did E3 hands-on, we did GamesCom hands-on, we've had a few groups of people come into the studio, we did a launch event in Ibiza last week and everyone that was playing it looked like they were having fun. They looked like they were enjoying the modes in the way we intended them to; playing together, against each other or three people at once.

So I hope we review well and I'd like to think we will. My initial reaction is that it looks like people are enjoying it but I'd never take a stab at it, you never know.

Are you nervous about what the reaction to your new features could be?

Zoom

I'm not so much nervous as I am excited about seeing how people respond. If you had asked me that before we had shown anyone anything I would have probably said 'yes I'm a little about some of the freestyle stuff we've put in', because it's a fine line - I said it on DJ Hero and I'll say it again - If we make a DJ simulator we've ballsed it up, we've got it wrong.

This is a game, it's still a game true to heart, it's about DJing and music. I was nervous about if we've gone too far with the freestyle stuff and how people would react. Then I saw people get hands-on with it and they got it, they seemed to enjoy it. So watching yourselves, journalists press play it gives me a little more confident that people are going to enjoy it.

As you mention there's more interaction in the game this year. Was that in response to some of the negative stuff in reviews of the first game?

Yeah, I'd say we responded to things people were calling out. A lot of this stuff has been in development for a long, long time. We had freestyle stuff we could have done in DJ 1 but at the time it was the first product of its kind coming out into a music market that was quite full - Guitar Hero products.

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