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Home » , , , , » Dance Central 2 (Video Game Review)

Dance Central 2 (Video Game Review)

By : Cindy Lennox on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 | 5:13 PM

When we last saw Dance Central on the Xbox 360 a year ago, it pretty much jumped to the top of the charts when it came to Kinect game sales. And that’s no surprise, considering it’s just as accessible and entertaining as the last game its developer, Harmonix, made – Rock Band 3. But that was a mere two-step compared to the full-blown tango you’ll experience with Dance Central 2. While the experience in itself is about the same, the extra features and additional songs will leave you toe-tapping with delight. If you’re new to Dance Central, or were one of the unfortunately souls that bought a different dancing game, here’s how it works. On-screen dancers perform their moves on the screen, with the help of a pair of back-up dancers. Prompts appear in the lower half of the screen, showing you what move is coming up next. You’ll mimic this move using your body, and the game will grade you depending on accuracy, using a color-coded ring that lights brighter and brighter depending on your success. The better you’re dancing, the better your score. And there are breaks in the middle of each song where you can break out and do your own thing, with a video playback showing you just how silly you appear going at rapid speed.

In terms of its visual engine, Dance Central 2 didn’t really go above and beyond the original. The dancers still look about the same, with some of them wearing the kind of lavish outfit you’d probably find on a tour of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The backdrops could’ve used a slight bit more variety as well, instead of just the usual club and outdoor locales. Other than that, it’s a strong visual interface, one that shows you just how well you’re scoring without any obtrusive stuff getting in the way. It also runs at a very good frame rate, even if two of you are going at once in a dance battle. (More on that in a minute.) Where this game really shines is in its song selection. Like the first, it combines some great stuff from both the old dancing days and the current music scene, from Bananarama’s “Venus” (which still fares very well considering its age) to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. If that isn’t enough for your dancing needs, you can also import your entire Dance Central music library for a mere five bucks, provided you still have the code card that it came with. (If not, I’m sure you can hunt down a used copy with one inside.) The song variety is staggering, and you can bet it’ll only get better as Harmonix adds DLC over the next few months.

In terms of its visual engine, Dance Central 2 didn’t really go above and beyond the original. The dancers still look about the same, with some of them wearing the kind of lavish outfit you’d probably find on a tour of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The backdrops could’ve used a slight bit more variety as well, instead of just the usual club and outdoor locales. Other than that, it’s a strong visual interface, one that shows you just how well you’re scoring without any obtrusive stuff getting in the way. It also runs at a very good frame rate, even if two of you are going at once in a dance battle. (More on that in a minute.) Where this game really shines is in its song selection. Like the first, it combines some great stuff from both the old dancing days and the current music scene, from Bananarama’s “Venus” (which still fares very well considering its age) to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. If that isn’t enough for your dancing needs, you can also import your entire Dance Central music library for a mere five bucks, provided you still have the code card that it came with. (If not, I’m sure you can hunt down a used copy with one inside.) The song variety is staggering, and you can bet it’ll only get better as Harmonix adds DLC over the next few months.

Where Dance Central 2 really takes off in terms of changes is with multiplayer. Rather than switching off alternatively as you did with the original game, the sequel now supports two dancers going at once, side by side. Not only can you work together on routines, but you can also compete in a number of ways. You can combine your efforts to pull off various move-for-move routines; go through solo sections to see who does better in certain parts of the song; or go all out for the Free 4 All…which is a must for dance parties. In Free 4 All, various dance maneuvers will be shown on your screen, and it’s up to you and your opponent to try and complete them in the best way possible. It’ll be tricky, as you need to remember the moves and then perform them, but luckily you don’t have to do it in any specific order. This mode alone is gonna make you sweat – in a good way.

We do wish the menu was a little more accessible, though. Sometimes the game has a hard time reading certain gestures of your hand. Luckily, the added voice control makes it a little better, so you can shout out what you want to do instead of forcibly moving pointers around. If Dance Central 2 has any sort of negative, it’s the lack of online multiplayer. Once again, it doesn’t support the ability to dance against a friend across the country. That’s mostly due to Kinect lag, we’re guessing. But oh well – a local party’s better than one online, right? If you like dancing games and couldn’t get enough of Harmonix’s previous efforts, it’s time to put on your shoes and get to steppin’ with Dance Central 2. It’s familiar and comfortable, while at the same time packing the kind of features that a good sequel should. As Bananarama once said, “Yeah, baby. She’s got it!”

Game Information:
Developer: Harmonix
Publisher: MTV Games
Platform: Reviewed for Xbox 360
Release Date: October 25, 2011

Score: 8 out of 10
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