|System: Xbox 360|
|Pub: MTV Games|
|Release: October 25, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Let's get one thing straight. Dance Central 2 is not a hit new videogame by Harmonix. Dance Central 2 is an excuse to get me to do the running man with a crowd of twenty people staring up at me on a stage in the middle of E3. This is what Dance Central 2 was to me, and it's basically what Dance Central 2 will be to you when it comes out in stores … just without the whole stage-at-E3 thing.
Overall, the game plays pretty much the same way that the original Dance Central did. A number of dance moves scroll up the screen, and you have to do your best to mimic them. There are new venues, new characters, and plenty of new tracks obviously, but save for one or two new moves, the repertoire of pops and locks really hasn't expanded all that much. The game gives you slightly better feedback when you screw up though, which is very useful for people like me who really don't have any sense of rhythm. At the Microsoft press conference, the guys behind Dance Central said that the "Break it Down" mode that teaches you each move in a dance routine is also new and improved, but the on-stage demo didn't include a demonstration. Besides, there wouldn't have been time. I was too busy failing to do the worm.
The big difference in Dance Central 2 is the fact that your friend can join in on the fun whenever he likes. By stepping into the range of the Kinect and raising your hand, Dance Central 2 will add another avatar in order to let you start busting some moves. Some dances even allow you to choose independent difficulties and others have "choreographed" sections where both sets of moves differ. If you realize after the fifth time you trip over your own two feet that you may be too drunk to play a dancing game, you can drop out just as easily. Simply walk off the screen and the Kinect will remove you from the playing field. It's as simple as that.
I was worried that the Kinect wouldn't be able to handle multiple inputs in one dancing game. After all, last year we tried Dance Central with more than one person in the range of the Kinect camera, and it seemed to screw up on moves that we pretty much had down pat. I'm not tooting our own dancing horn here; I am talking stuff as simple as a hand wave. However, this just isn't the case with Dance Central 2. The Kinect keeps up with two dances perfectly. Heck, it even detects movement better than the first did. Color me impressed.
The Harmonix reps mentioned a few of the other features Dance Central 2 will have as well. They spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the story mode, which is apparently something straight out of You Got Served. Frankly, I don't really care all that much about the story in a dance game, but at least it will make the "expanded campaign mode" fun. I sure hope I get to have dance battles in underprivileged ghettos! Oh, speaking of dance battles, they will return, with sections that require both dancers to dance at once, rather than simply trading the stage with each other.
The real treat in Dance Central 2 is the backward compatibility. Much like the newer versions of Rock Band, Dance Central 2 will allow you to import all the tracks and dances from Dance Central so you don't have to keep switching disks whenever you want to play an old routine. Searching and sorting through tracks has apparently been made easier, and the menu is also easier to navigate. If you really want to feel futuristic you can command the menu by voice, which seems to be the new Kinect trick of E3 this year. It's a little excessive, but still fun to do.
Of course, any rhythm game lives or dies based on its track list, and I only have three words for you: Like a G6. Eh? Eh? Well, it certainly made the experience complete for me! In all seriousness, Harmonix wasn't just pimping out its new track list, but also its new ability to make quality DLC quickly. What DLC will that be? We don't really know. The Harmonix reps wouldn't really tell us anything about possible DLC tracks. Heck, we don't even know it's coming, but look at it this way. They wouldn't mention it if there wasn't a possibility, right?
Overall, Dance Central 2 was just plain fun. It didn't innovate the Dance Central formula as much as it refined it, and that's just fine. There wasn't anything broken in the original Dance Central, so there was no need to fix anything.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer