Review: Dance Central 2
It’s that time of the year where we’re saturated with great games for the next couple of months, and we couldn’t be happier (although the same can’t be said for our wallets). As we’re still gliding around Arkham City, this Tuesday we’ll also be called to the front lines.
I on the other hand received another call, a call to show my moves on the dance floor, and I’m happy I answered.
The original Dance Central was a hit. It wasn’t the first dance simulator, but Kinect’s technology took away the need for controllers and made us feel like we were somewhat competent dancing along. The songs were great, filled with the popular and the oldies we all love, and it was a fresh way to party with your friends (gamers and non-gamers alike).
Dance Central 2 doesn’t disappoint, and I definitely feel it’s better than its predecessor. The graphics look good, with more colors added to the mix to make everything more seizure inducing. I never liked the way other dance simulators made your character look like an assortment of neon colors (Just Dance, Everybody Dance, and Zumba Fitness), so I love Dance Central‘s setup. Nail the dance moves flawlessly and your surrounding turns into a club. Your personal space also gets some color when you freestyle, adding some life to your bland living room.
Unlike the first game, the difficulties aren’t locked away, so you’re not forced to constantly play on a certain difficulty just to move on to the next level. You now have the option to make a playlist too, although it doesn’t shuffle any of the songs for you.
Dance Central 2 also has voice commands, so you can scream at your T.V. as you move silly in front of it. Instead of having to walk off screen like the first game to pause the song, all you have to do is yell at your Kinect, “Xbox Pause!” Commands like these are implemented in the song selection menu and in Break It Down mode to help you master the moves.
The songs are what make the game, and Harmonix decided to implement more top hits and less oldies, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea (Warning: Do not drink tea while playing Dance Central 2). I only liked a few tracks in the first game, so I was usually forced to play the same eight songs. Now with Dance Central 2 I find myself wanting to play each song right after the other, from “What Is Love” to that popcorn and Sprite song “Turn Me On.”
The moves themselves are much smoother and more complicated, evident by my disorientation as I jumped into Hard mode. I did notice the moves are more hip-orientated, an interesting direction men will get to experience and promptly blush over. Just like the first game, it provides feedback on what you’re doing wrong by highlighting those limbs red to let you perfect your style.
The biggest change to the game is the option to co-op: you can actually dance side- to-side with someone instead of taking turns. This implementation drastically improves Dance Central 2; it’s so much more fun to do the moves simultaneously. Anyone can jump in during any song by just appearing in front of the sensor and raising their arm up.
If you still want to take turns, Dance Battles are still in place, now upgraded with solos and Free 4 Alls. With Free 4 All, players try to perform moves that appear on the screen in any random order, and the first to perform the moves correctly gets bonus points. Lots of laughs, maybe some bruises.
The game also has a Fitness mode, equivalent to the first game’s Workout Mode. Here you can choose from different regiments for the type of exercise you want to do (e.g. Warmup versus Long Haul). Each challenge has time slots assigned to them, ranging from 12 to 50 minutes. As you dance through each song you’ll be told how many calories you’ve burned, how long you’ve been dancing and how many songs you have left in your program. You can also enable Fitness mode during regular play so it constantly tells you how many calories you’ve burned.
Crew Challenge is Dance Central 2’s career mode, and it has you dancing for your right to represent each crew the ten game characters are a part of. Here you unlock new outfits and crews, and it is an interesting way to pass the time from the standard “Perform It” mode.
The game does have its drawbacks. In order to import songs from your copy of Dance Central, you’ll need to pay 400 Microsoft Points ($4.99). It’s not much, but I don’t want to pay to import the songs when I already bought the first game. I understand the licensing fees, but I want those $5 to go to my superficial Xbox Avatar!
The biggest letdown is the lack of online multiplayer. Dancing side-by-side was such a great improvement, being able to play online would have been the icing on the cake. Can you imagine dancing along to THIS in your own living room?
(Yes, the video is old and features Dance Central, but just use your imagination!)
Dance Central 2 reminds us why the first Dance Central was so much fun, and with its own mix of songs, upgrades, and moves, this sequel is a worthy purchase. There are those who are not fans of Kinect, and I’m not too keen on it either if it keeps being shoehorned into our beloved titles, but if a game is fun I will play it. Dance Central 2 is definitely fun.
- Great track list (44 songs) with enhanced moves that are great to dance to.
- Co-op dancing and dance battles are endless fun.
- Fitness mode has been revamped and truly feels like a workout.
- Break It Down mode has been improved to make us dancing machines.
- No online multiplayer; we can’t always have people over to dance with so why not have the option to play online with friends?
- Having to pay 400 Microsoft points; I’m a cheapskate.
- Playlist doesn’t shuffle the songs; I’m lazy.
Esmeralda received a review copy from Harmonix.