If there is one thing that Kinect does well its dancing games, and if there is one thing that Dance Central does well it’s utilise the technology to its maximum potential. Step up Dance Central 3, it’s your turn in the spotlight. This is an awesome sequel to the series, Harmonix have made a real effort to push Kinect to its limits and there are some fantastic new modes to play.
If you have never experienced Dance Central before you could find the game quite intimidating, even more so if you are not much of dancer, unlike Just Dance 4 which will forgive your lack of ability, Dance Central is more than happy to tell you that you are doing something wrong -arm not at the right height? Your dancer’s arm will be highlighted in red, showing that you’re completely getting the move wrong. There are no points for you I’m afraid, it can certainly feel like a dance exam at times but thankfully you are able to rehearse songs and go through every song move by move.
The soundtrack is good, with tracks spanning throughout the decades, from Disco Inferno in the 70’s all the way up to today’s hits including ‘Starships’ and ‘On the Floor’. Of course no dance game is complete with some cheesy tracks. New Kids on the Block feature with ‘You’ve got the right stuff’ and The Village People’s classic ‘YMCA’. Just Dance 4 did a better job with their song choices this year, but there are still some great songs in there.
Brand new this year is Dance Central’s Story mode, which again is pretty cheesy but is a nice way to keep you dancing. The first two people you meet are Limaand Rasa, who is apart of Dance Central Intelligence (DCI), once you have proved yourself to be a capable dancer you join the Intelligence team. Your mission is to go back in time, starting in the 70’s through to the present day, defeating Dr. Tan’s army who are trying to destroy DCI.
It’s a mental storyline, but its fleshed out by making you do a bit more work than just dancing. Each decade presents you with 5 songs and within some of those songs are some special dance moves that you need to uncover. Unlock all four of them and you’ll be able to decipher the hidden dance craze - if you have unlocked enough stars in the other songs as well, you’ll be able to perform the final song and bring back the agents to the future to help defeat Dr. Tan.
In practice it isn’t that simple as the power moves can be quite tricky, even more so if you don’t have much dancing ability. You may find yourself repeating the same song over and over again, for some this could see the end of the Story mode. For those who really want to make the effort to get past, then you’ll probably find yourself back in the Rehearsal mode to try and get by.
There is plenty outside of the Story mode too, first off is the Fitness mode. There are lots of options for you to set up before you begin your workout. You are able to set yourself targets such as work out over a set number of days or burn a set amount of calories. You can also customise a playlist to workout to your favourite dances or search through the pre-defined lists. You are still graded on your performances, but the main is to work out. Just dance 4 does a much better job of handling the workouts, as there is no interruption between tracks, whereas in Dance Central 3 there are 30 second gaps, which show you your score while the next song loads, which can be frustrating at times.
No dancing game is any fun if you are just playing on your own and this is where Harmonix have excelled themselves with Dance Central 3. The first mode is called Make Your Move. Two players get to take turns creating their own dance move, your opponent must then try to match your creation before having a go at making their move. Once four moves have been made a routine is created for the song you chose at the beginning of the game, it’s good fun, though on reflection I should have made some Gangnam Style moves.
The next mode is one of the best things I’ve come across in a dance game. Keep the Beat isn’t about taking turns, its just about dancing. There are no prompts for moves, just you and a friend, your favourite song and your (lack of) dancing ability. The aim is to get the highest score - to do this you’ll need a bit of rhythm as the game wants you to… keep to the beat, the longer you can keep this up the more your points will multiply while you are in the zone. That’s great fun on its own, but if your opponent manages to mimic your moves they can steal your combo, so now it’s tactical dancing. You’ll need to make sure you’ve got some special moves prepared in case of an emergency. It genuinely a lot of fun and would be great at parties.
As well as pushing Kinect, Harmonix are making use of SmartGlass in Dance Central 3, the games’ Party mode allows you to be a DJ by choosing songs on the fly. Currently it isn’t available, but it will probably work quite well when it is.
When I first found out that I’d be reviewing this I’ll admit to being skeptical after having so much fun with Just Dance 4, but Harmonix have done an awesome job with this game, in fact they’ve kept Kinect going in my house that little bit longer.