Dance Central 2
: Harmonix Music Systems
: Harmonix Music Systems
: Xbox 360 (Kinect)
: Dance, Music, Fitness
: October 25, 2011
The sequel to Harmonixís best-selling Kinect dance-music game has boogied its way to store shelves just in time for the holidays. Dance Central was a refreshing experience for the music video game genre. Dance Central 2 brings back the same addictive gameplay as well as a load of new features. Whether you want to dance solo, or with a friend or two, itís once again time to ďshake your groove thing, shake your groove thing, yeah, yeah.Ē
Thereís not much of a story to Dance Central 2, like other music-based games before it. The first Dance Central allowed you to jump right in and start dancing to your heartís content. Dance Central 2 takes it a step further with an optional campaign of sorts.
The campaign involves you, an up and coming dancing sensation, to display your moves among other rival dance troupes. There are some familiar faces seen in the last game, such as Angel, Miss Aubrey, and Emilia. Plus, there are many new faces to Dance Central 2 like Bodie, Glitch, Kerith, Liíl T, and more.
Each dancer belongs to their own dance crew, who wait to be challenged by you. There are 7 dance crews and each has two dancers like those mentioned above. Riptide, Lu$h, Flash4wrd, Hi-Def, Glitterati, D-cypher, and the immaculate D-cypher Elite.
Dance Central 2 sports some of the greatest combinations of colors just as the previous game did. The gameís various settings in which the player dances in come to life in vivid displays of colors. Neon lights, pulsating light works that reverberate along with the beat of the dance music intensify the Dance Central experience. The characters come with their own unique personality, and everything right down to their choice in clothing supports it. While you may be too busy dancing to notice it, Dance Central 2 is one good looking dance game.
The game basically runs on its soundtrack, and may very well be one of the reasons you decide to bring the game home. Many fan favorites from hip-hop, techno, pop, and oldies are sprinkled throughout the gameís set list. Thereís something for everyone of all ages to enjoy. At 44 tracks total, youíll be dancing away for hours. Some of the artists whose music you can expect to hear and dance to are: Lady Gaga, Usher, Britney Spears, Bruno Mars, and more.
Like Dance Central before it, Dance Central 2 enables allows you to choose from any of the gameís 44 tracks right from the start. From that point on itís your choice if you want to Perform It, or Break It Down.
Choosing Perform It will throw you right into the dance of your choice. There are three difficulties to choose from: Easy, Medium, and Hard. More dance moves are piled onto the routine for the song youíre performing with each increase in difficulty.
Kinect will track your bodyís movement, though it can be a bit picky. Youíll be watching a combination of the on-screen characterís movements and the series of flashcards on the side of the screen for directions on how to perform the appropriate dance move for the song youíve chosen. When I mentioned that Kinect can be picky, sometimes youíll find yourself mimicking a move correctly and in good time, but Kinect doesnít seem to register it. Youíll know how well youíre dancing by looking at the spotlight, or the colored rings that surround your characterís feet. Blue and green colored spotlights show perfect or good execution of your dance moves, whereas yellow and red rings mean moderate or poor execution of the dance routine. The more accurate your dance moves are, the greater the likelihood that youíll earn a five star rating, the highest rating possible for the complete dance.
If for any reason you know you should be doing well, but arenít, take a moment to clear out your dance space for adequate room and recalibrate the Kinectís settings. Another good hint is to dance to every beat as the character on the screen does.
Pictures of your dances and final poses will be spontaneously taken by Kinectís camera. The feature seems to be a whimsical part of the experience, as you can see what you looked like at the end of every dance you complete. Of course, you can always disable pictures, but whereís the fun in that? Dance Central 2 can now let you store your favorite pictures to your hard drive, a good feature that was absent in Dance Central. In the previous game, once youíd seen your pictures and moved on, they were gone for good.
I saved Break It Down until this point for good reason. Break It Down is basically the practice mode of the Dance Central games. One of the issues that Dance Central had was that if you wanted to practice only a certain part of a dance, you had to practice through everything leading up to that point in the routine. It wasnít too convenient, especially if you wanted to jump into the dance after practicing the part you needed work on. Break It Down in Dance Central 2 has been refined so that you can choose what part of the dance you want to practice at any time, making it far easier to get into the swing of things than before.
Another new feature to Dance Central 2 is the use of the Kinectís voice command feature. Voice control is used for the purposes of selecting songs, and especially useful in Break It Down. Actually, itís much more useful in Break It Down as I have come to experience. You can choose to slow down a certain dance segment while practicing, repeat dance segments, or skip them, all by speaking the appropriate voice commands. Itís very easy to use when practicing a dance. On the other hand, the voice commands for choosing a song from the track list to dance to is more complicated and inaccurate. Technically you speak the name of the song followed by the word ďsongĒ to select your dance routine. I tried this exact instruction but was unable to get the song I wanted. Even moving directly in front of Kinect, in a completely quiet room, didnít help. I adjusted Kinectís settings for picking up sound, but still the feature couldnít work for me. Strange, considering that itís quite accurate in Break It Down.
The best feature to make it into Dance Central 2, that was absent in the first game, is the gameís ability to track two dancers simultaneously for a group dance. Now you and a friend can dance side-by-side for some great times together. Difficulties can be set separately for each dancer. There are two modes of multiplayer gameplay you can choose from: cooperative and competitive. Cooperative multiplayer will have both dancers dancing for a mutual goal: the highest score possible. Competitive multiplayer is essentially a dance off between two dancers to see who can get the highest score possible in a dance, where the dancer who has the greatest amount of points is the winner. This also includes a drop in/drop out functionality, so if youíve got to go, you can leave and return as you please.
The Dance Central games are much more than dancing video games. They have a strong fitness factor about them because the gameplay pushes you to your limit, that is, if you play the harder difficulties. Expect to sweat it out and take moments to catch your breath. This is something that Dance Central is good at where other motion games arenít. Itís a workout in video game form. Thatís why the inclusion of the Fitness Mode is a welcome feature. With Fitness Mode enabled, the game will monitor how many calories youíve burned, not just by song, but by how long youíve been playing. It was included in Dance Central and itís back in Dance Central 2. Thumbs up for you, Harmonix.
Lastly thereís plenty of stuff to unlock as you progress through the game. If youíre an achievement hunter, there are plenty of achievements to be had here. Hidden characters, alternate outfits, and a challenge mode are among the things that will keep you coming back to Dance Central 2 for more.
Dance Central was the best Kinect game to pick up last holiday season in 2010. Dance Central 2 is once again the game to pick up if you need something new for Kinect this year. The gameplay is spot on and easy to learn with the refined Break It Down mode. Dancing together with another friend or two is one of the greatest new additions to Dance Central 2, whether you want to work together or compete against each other. If youíre a fitness freak, the game does an excellent job of keeping the calories burning. The list of music is great and you can always import your music from Dance Central for a minor fee if you feel youíd like to. Pick up Dance Central 2 for some great dancing fun.