The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Dance games are fairly polarizing. While there is a rabid fanbase
that has gone wild for dance games just like Lady Gaga has gone wild
with a glue gun, there is a section of the gaming community that would
rather deliver a graduation speech in their underwear than get on stage
and dance. I’m somewhere in the middle. I have little problem looking
like a fool, but I’m also uncoordinated enough that I can trip over my
own rock step. When the first Dance Central came out, I was hesitant to
test my dexterity. However, three songs into the game, I could feel
myself working up a sweat and getting into the groove. Dancers often
talk about the physical euphoria they achieve while moving to the beat
of a song, and even the uncoordinated among us can sample this thrill
through the magic of Dance Central.
It seems like a simple system:
Dance Central captures your body motions and delivers feedback on how
accurately you match the onscreen prompts. However, it’s impressive how
this feedback system helps you to quickly pick up new dance moves. I
appreciate Harmonix expanding the Break It Down system, which allowed me
to more easily focus on the specific moves I struggled to master. The
game’s improved voice integration makes it a snap to start up a specific
song or pause the game and start rehearsing in Break it Down mode.
Far East Movement’s “Like a G6” to Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do
It” to the embarrassingly fun “Venus” by Bananarama, Dance Central 2
offers up a good mix of party tunes that will only grow with DLC. Fans
of the first game will love the fact that you can also import your songs
from the first game (for a small fee). A lot of players lost weight
playing the first game, but Dance Central’s 2’s Fitness mode is a clever
little addition that allows you to track your calorie burn and create
custom playlists to help you shed the pounds.
All of these are
solid improvements to the formula, but taken as a whole, I don’t feel
like this series has made any significant advances. Dance Central 2’s
Crew Challenge mode lets you dance to win the favor of a few local dance
crews, but calling this a campaign mode would be generous. I’m sure
most players will just jump to the Dance mode where all of the songs are
unlocked, but it’s nice to have some kind of progression mode for those
players who are dedicated enough to play through the game’s entire set
list. Dance Central 2 only provides the thinnest of story conceits and
little motivation to complete Crew Challenge mode. Compared to other
games in the music genre, like Harmonix’s own Rock Band 3, Dance Central
has plenty of room to grow in its career mode, story, and character
creation – the last of which it lacks entirely.
I haven’t had an
opportunity to test my new moves at a club yet, but with Dance Central
2’s drop-in, drop-out multiplayer, I don’t need to leave my house to
have a social dance experience. I still think that 90 percent of all
dance moves look better when anyone other than me performs them, and
that children dance with a wild abandon that few adults are confident
enough to muster, but my time with Dance Central 2 has convinced me that
even those of us that aren’t dance enthusiasts can have fun busting a
move if we’re willing to give it a shot.
Email the author Ben Reeves, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.