Reviews// Dance Central 2

Posted 8 Dec 2011 17:14 by
A long time ago, I used to be one of those DJ chaps. I'd show up at clubs (like, actual proper clubs!) with boxes filled with records and CDs, play out tunes for hours and generally have a splendid time.

Most of the stuff I played was guitar tunes, throw in a bit of hip-hop and dance to get people's asses on the floor? good times. But that was a while ago. Now I'm older, I'm meant to be more sensible. I've been in precisely one club in the last two years and I really don't miss it.

The jostling, the desperate need to be having a good time, the fights on the dancefloor... I don't care about any of that now. There's only one thing I do miss though: the dancing. Yes, I'm an old duffer, but I do like to dance, just not in front of lots of people. I like shaking my booty around the house and now, thanks to the miracle of Kinect, I can earn Achievements while doing it.

Dance Central 2 is (shockingly enough) the follow up to the biggest dance game of all time. The craze for plastic instruments now seems to be dead and gone, replaced by people moving about in front of a mildly creepy looking camera. I was a big fan of the original game, much preferring it over its main competitor, Just Dance. It just felt like a slicker production and being a fan of Harmonix's previous games it's no surprise my vote went that way.

Now, rather than relying on friends bringing Kinect over, we have SPOnG?s here at Fox Towers and I've been able to give Dance Central 2 a proper going over and... well, I'm pretty impressed, yet there's still a couple of niggly things that bug me. Let's kick off with the positives first though.

Get knackered and shame yourself
Being a game that's entirely reliant on Kinect, players will be delighted to know that the system detects dance moves easily as well as the first game did. The range of moves has been increased yet is still accessible, meaning that even a mildly out-of-shape bloke in his mid-30s is capable of throwing shapes with the best of them especially if you stick to lower difficulty levels. If you're looking for a proper challenge you can easily whack that up higher, but be warned ? you will get knackered and shame yourself.

Rhythm action games, no matter what their format, live or die by their song list. While there's pretty much bugger all on there that appeals to my indie sensibilities, if you're into decent(ish) poppy dance stuff and rap you'll be well catered for. There's a few tunes that seem to pop up on every music game franchise ? Sir Mix-a-Lot's Baby Got Back seems to be everywhere, as do releases from David Guetta, Flo Rida and Donna Summer (yes, Hot Stuff is on there so you can get your mum and dad to re-enact how they met that fateful night on the dancefloor).

Numa Numa
I was very happy to see that there's a few truly odd selections on the disc as well ? Digital Underground's Humpty Dance? The Eurovision winning Satellite from Lena? Hell, it's even got Dragostea Din Tea ? better known to most folks as that Numa Numa song.

All in all, Dance Central 2 ships with over 40 songs with the potential to grab more tunes via DLC ? the opening salvos are a couple of Lady Gaga tunes that you can get using the included 240 Moon Points card. You're also able to import the songs from the original DC game and use any DLC you may already have grabbed.

So, it's a very solid effort. The music selection is great, the technology is well up to scratch and ? even better ? you can now have two players dancing simultaneously, something that was sadly lacking in the first game. There's also the possibility to jump in and drop out whenever you like, which is great for those who aren't too sure about getting involved but may be tempted once the beat kicks in. Some very useful voice control has also been introduced which ? in all honesty ? is bloody impressive. Say what you want to do, what song you like and away you go!
Something is, as I said earlier, annoying me a little about Dance Central 2. Yes, it's a very good game, that can't be denied. However, this really doesn't feel like a real change. Despite the two-player option that's been added; despite the voice control, despite the excellent song list... well, it feels more like an expansion pack than an actual sequel.

Of course, there's not really much that can be done about that; unlike something like the Rock Band series where you can introduce new instruments, when your body is the focus of the game you're slightly limited regarding what you're working with.

All told, I'm not sure that it's worth the full asking price. Yes, there are some enhancements over the first game, but is there enough there to warrant forking out for it? If you're desperate for a proper two-player version of the game, then I'd say go for it.

However, it's not really doing much else that's new. Go in with your eyes open, see it for what it is and then ? if you're happy to hand over your money ? pick it up. You'll enjoy it, no doubt, but it's no Great Leap Forward. My question is where do they go from here? Where will the innovation come from for the inevitable Dance Central 3? Harmonix will have to do something ? but who knows what?

+ Song list is pretty bloody good
+ Kinect technology is well implemented
+ Voice control! It's like living in the future!
+ Two players at the same time, finally

- Feels like more of the same
- Pretty pricey for what it is
- Justin Bieber's "Somebody to Love"

SPOnG Score: 8/10

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dogma 22 Jan 2012 01:50
Way too much work for a game.
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