PS2 REVIEW: FLOW: URBAN DANCE UPRISING

ImaybetotallywrongbutI'ma.....dancing fooooo...oooo....ooo....l. Dancing foo.....oooooo.....ooo....ooo....l. by Mike Chasselwaite

January 18, 2006 - Okay, that's enough sitting around playing video games. It's time to get your lazy arse off that couch and into the hip hop arena where you're required to bust a move. But since this is breakdancing, the moves will probably bust you. Are you up for the challenge?

Flow: Urban Dance Uprising is an intense dance/rhythm game and enjoys the distinction of being the first hip hop version. There are 50 tracks and 10 characters. The action is fast and fluid. The characters display smooth animation and will inspire you to pull off some new moves although breakdancing is not the required form of action. This game uses a floorpad and requires that you only use your feet despite all of the head spinning, hand standing and butt slamming action onscreen.

There's a street vibe to the game that doesn't feel forced. A variety of urban locations are available to you to ply your trade, complete missions and challenge other dancers. The tracks aren't all commercial. You can dance to the beats of the Sugar Hill Gang, Kurtis Blow, and Eric B & Rakim to name a few. There's a good mix of old-school stuff as well as some obscure artists but it all boils down to the beat and Flow: Urban Dance Uprising is down with that. Word.

All of the breakdancing moves are performed by your onscreen character, but that shouldn't stop you from trying a few of those moves out for yourself. Just make sure that your insurance premiums are paid up and that neither UbiSoft or Cheat Code Central are liable for your clumsiness.

The gameplay is exactly the same as Dance Dance Revolution. You step on various grids on a mat that correspond to the onscreen arrows that rise vertically on the screen. Place your foot on the square the instant they intersect the beat bar. As long as you're doing it right, your onscreen characters will perform various breakdancing moves. If you start to falter, your character will also falter. If you really screw up your character might even do a faceplant. It's funny the first few times but when you start to realize that you suck you might not find it so hilarious.

There are three different difficulty levels. I think I have pretty good rhythm and I was able to ace the Easy mode with hardly breaking a sweat. The medium mode ramps up the difficulty level a lot more than expected. Suddenly things were not so easy. The third level is freakishly fast. You've really got to have no life to master this mode.

To further complicate matters, some of the arrows appear in tandem. That is, they are linked to other arrows. These combos are linked by a chain so they are easier to see when they are coming up the screen. They add some variety to the Easy mode but become more frustratingly complex in the more difficult modes. You can increase your score points by pulling off Power Moves that require you to connect with a lightning bolt icon. It makes things more complicated but it greatly increases your score. This feature isn't available until you unlock it.

Eye Toy support does little except to put your imagine on the screen. It does not incorporate any special moves such as hand gestures or head tilts. It works like a mirror letting you see yourself. You don't need to go through all this trouble to watch yourself. Trust me, you're not nearly as interesting or as talented as the onscreen characters so don' t even bother with the Eye Toy.

There are 10 different characters but you have to unlock most of them. There are outfits and accessories that you can unlock for your characters but it's a far cry from a create-a-character mode. You don't really have any connection to your avatar other than to make it perform some incredible moves, which is really just a reflection on your ability.

Up to eight people can take part in the Party mode which is great for competition or just to have a few laughs at a rookie's expense. There is no doubt that practice is required to get better at this game and it can be unfair for beginners trying it out for the first time at a party. A game such as this is best played with people of the same skill levels otherwise players begin to lose interest.

If you're not into the story and a party seems like an unlikely scenario in your bachelor apartment, then you might want to try the workout mode. It monitors your energy output and tells you how many calories you've burned. Of course you don't really need this mode because as long as you're playing any mode in this game you're going to be burning off a lot of calories. Dancing is a great aerobic exercise and not only will you develop your rhythm skills, you'll be getting in shape.

The backgrounds are decent but not impressive. There's enough iconic hip hop atmosphere and lexicon to drive home the urban jungle theme but it doesn't seem as contrived as it could be. Maybe because it's not rammed down your throat. There are loads of hip hop cliches from the overly baggy clothes to the bling and the street 'tude of the characters but it's no different from any hip hop video. The backgrounds can be a little static with limited crowd movement and participation. The game is colorful but favors darker tones. Some of the arrows are too similar in shade to tell apart from off-beat arrows.

Flow: Urban Dance Uprising is not an original concept by any stretch but it does take some practice to get into the hip hop groove. The hip hop beats are predictable and as such the game incorporates tricky syncopated rhythms that follow the patterns of the vocal tracks. For those weaned on techno and J-pop rhythms this may be new territory. It's really difficult to connect with a song first time through if you're not familiar with it even though you're reading the arrows correctly. You may have to listen to the track a number of times to get the feeling down. If you're really committed to this style of music and dance, the replay value can be off the map. As a tire kicker, you would be advised to rent it first.

Features:

  • Express your skills and style to 50 current, licensed hip-hop tracks.
  • Learn the foundations of Urban Dance in Easy mode, and challenge yourself with fly power moves as you advance through Medium and Expert.
  • Establish your character's rep across town in 100 single-player challenges and unlock songs, power moves, custom interfaces, and more.
  • Break out your dance pad and master up to 300 moves per character. Or, try them out with your DUALSHOCK®2 controller.
  • Develop your moves and stamina in three single-player modes, then battle against friends in Versus, Break Style, and 8-player Competition mode.
  • Pick from 10 different b-boys and girls, or watch yourself dance using the Sony USB Camera Eye Toy.

By Mike Chasselwaite
CCC Freelance Writer

 
Rating out of 5
Flow: Urban Dance Uprising (PS2)
3.8
Graphics
Very fluid character movements. Some arrow colors are difficult to discern.
3.9
Control
No breakdancing moves, even with the use of the Eye Toy. It's all done on the dance mat.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is a good blend of hip hop tunes that requires you to dance in and out of the beats.
4.2
Play Value
A good variety of modes will keep you dancing with yourself, or with your posse in party mode, for months to come.
3.8
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
 
System: PS2, X
Dev: A2M
Pub: Ubisoft
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 8
Review by Mike

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best