In my opinion the original Dance Central still remains one of Kinect’s best games. In fact, bouts of high score chasing got quite competitive between me and a certain member of the TSA staff (who shall remain nameless). Can Harmonix replicate the magic a second time around?
First up I’m thrilled to say that Harmonix has kept the user interface used with Dance Central. Most Kinect games use the ‘hold your hand over the icon’ method of selection, which I find a bit cumbersome and very slow. With Dance Central 2 all you need to do is point at the option you want to select with your right hand, and do a little ‘swipe’ motion to the left. If you make a mistake and wish to go back, it’s as simple as flicking your left hand across the screen. It’s quick, easy and something all Kinect developers should be doing. Seriously.
To streamline the process even further, some voice controls have been thrown into the mix. If you want to jump straight into a song from the menu screen you simply say “Xbox, Dance” and voila, it all kicks into life. This extends into the game as well, as you can now pause in the middle of a routine by simply asking. It’s a nice addition, although sometimes Kinect goes a bit hard of hearing and needs a couple of prompts before it does what it’s told.
As you might expect from a dance game, the aim is to match on-screen prompts to gain as high a score as possible. After every routine you are scored out of five stars, with the much coveted gold stars being handed out for those who do really well. As this is a Kinect game Dance Central 2 uses full body tracking, meaning you need to be far more accurate when busting a move. It’s still an outstanding feature, meaning routines can be pretty damn vigorous. It also makes the game far less approachable than titles such as the recently reviewed Just Dance 3, as there is so much more to take in.[drop]Unfortunately it also carries across one of Dance Central’s little niggles, as sometimes Kinect will sometimes mark you down for a move, but if you do the exact same thing again you’ll get a ‘flawless’ rating. It might just be that my living room set-up isn’t particularly Kinect friendly though.
To try and see where you are going wrong, Dance Central 2 has an extremely in-depth option that allows you to break down and practice a routine move by move. If that’s not hardcore enough for you, it will also let you film yourself doing moves so you can compare what you’re doing with how it should be done.
Do you want more? Well, you can also create a playlist of moves you want to practice in more detail. Harmonix has managed to create a game that can be played for a laugh, or studied intently for fans of chasing high scores.
In terms of new stuff, Dance Central 2 provides an incentive for lone players by way of the Crew Challenge. A story mode of sorts, it sees you taking partc in dance battles to try and impress several crews enough to give you their cards. Along the way you’ll unlock characters and outfits. This is a clever addition, and something the original was sorely lacking.
There’s also the almost mandatory fitness mode, which allows you to play through specially created playlists. These range from fairly easy, right up to heart-pounding “I feel a bit sick” routines. If nothing takes your fancy you can create your own fitness playlist, with up to 20 songs in.
For those who like to be social, a second player can jump into the game at any time without having to quit out and select the option from a menu. Just make sure you have plenty of room!
In terms of track list, Dance Central 2 didn’t strike a chord with me as much as I hoped it would. Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of fantastic songs included, but I found myself flicking through the 40 strong list going “no, next” far more than I would have liked. Obviously this is personal taste, which will differ from person to person. You can also import your songs over from Dance Central, and they will be compatible with all game modes. Unfortunately it’ll cost you 400 MSP to do so.
For those who enjoy spamming social network sites, and are brave enough, you can also upload pictures of yourself to Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately for the world I dance in my underwear, so I’ll be uploading nothing.
- Very in-depth.
- Fantastic routines.
- A single player campaign.
- An exhausting, customizable fitness mode.
- Good use of voice control.
- Interaction with Twitter/Facebook.
- Paying to import Dance Central content.
- Just Dance 3’s four player mode trumps the two player mode here.
So, is Dance Central 2 a case of second time lucky? I would definitely say yes. Whilst there are a couple of niggles, the positives far outweigh the negatives and what we are left with is a deep and enjoyable dance game with options galore.
Kinect’s best game by far.