Last year Harmonix released Dance Central for the Kinect with great success and praise from gamers. This year they release Dance Central 2 with new music, moves, and features that will have your inner choreographer dancing to the beat. So after spending the last week with the game and breaking a sweat this is what I think of Dance Central 2.
The first thing that I noticed in DC2 is the menu of locked songs that required stars to unlock more from the initial dance selection and passing a dance moves test. From the beginning of the game all the songs are available for the player to dance to at any difficulty. So now players can have the ability to try the harder songs without having to worry how many stars they need to unlock more songs or beating a song on one difficulty to unlock the next one. Players who are coming from Dance Central 1 will be treated to some similar moves in DC2 that will make it easier to complete some of the songs initially, but there are many more new moves in DC2 that will take some time to master. So one of the great things about this new single player mode is that when the player highlights one of the songs it will not only play the song, but will also bring up a tile of a ghost dancer performing the moves from the song. Watching this little preview might help determine if the player wants to play that song based on the moves or go to the next song. Having the ability to now make a playlist of your favorite songs in DC2 players will be able to just keep on dancing and not worry about what song to play next which will be great for those who like to have Dance Central parties.
One of the best ways that Dance Central 2 takes advantage of the Kinect hardware is that it uses the voice commands for the first time and will allow players to select songs, difficulty, and use commands in the break it down mode for an easier way for players to interact with the game. Players just have to say “Xbox Dance” to start voice recognition and then say what song, mode, and difficulty that they want to play on and they are already dancing.
Every song in the game can be performed with two players with drop in and drop out multiplayer either in the Perform It mode or the Dance Battle mode that the game offers. In the perform it mode both players will face off and have the spotlight put on them to get their moment to score some points. Also during the free-4-all mode players will battle it out over the moves on the screen with the player with the best moves earning extra points. The Dance Battle mode will have player selected crews face off against each other to see who has the better moves overall.
If players are having a hard time getting the hang of the new moves they can go into the newly enhanced break it down mode that is available in the game. In break it down mode players can select the whole song, sections of the song, or just a single dance move that is giving them a hard time. After selecting which move or moves the player would like to focus on there are a few more options such as slowing the move down and even doing a video recording of the move to see what you, the player, are doing compared to the character on screen side by side. I find that the video recording of the moves that I am doing and then watching what I am doing wrong is one of the best ways to see how I can improve my technique and nail the move.
Replacing the unlocking songs will be a new mode to Dance Central entitled Crew Challenges. Crew Challenges is similar to a story mode where the player will be auditioning for each crew by performing a number of songs earning stars to gain respect from the crew, which there is a total of five crews. Once the player has enough stars and credit they will unlock a song to perform to earn the crew’s dance card and earning them membership with the crew. If players five star all the songs in the crew’s challenge they will earn an achievement for each difficulty beaten (easy, medium, hard).
Also somewhat new to DC2 is the fitness mode, but this time Harmonix has made it a dedicated part of the game and even has predetermined routines that will help players lose some calories. There are nine different time based sessions that the player can choose from that ranges from a ten minute sprint all the way up to a fifty minute long haul session. The game can track how much time, calories burned, songs played, and how many calories the player is burning per song in the fitness menu. To encourage some players to play with the fitness mode enabled, there are some achievements for burning calories and spending over thirty minutes in one session. The great thing about the fitness mode is that all players have to do is enable it and play normally through any of the songs that they want, the crew challenges, or any other mode available while the game tracks the progress. Players will get notifications in the upper right hand corner of the screen telling them how many calories they have burned or how long that they have been playing, which helps motivate to play longer. I can say that doing some of the fitness routines will get your heart pumping and sweating as the player will play through a series of songs with no breaks in between to keep things moving along at a good rate.
The improvements made in Dance Central 2 are remarkable as the Kinect has more points on the body of the dancers to look at and the game itself feels a little faster than the first one. With the new fast pacing with the dance moves, the ability to import the original songs from Dance Central 1 and DLC there is songs and dance moves for everyone. While the one thing that is missing from Dance Central 2 has to be the ability to play online against friends and other dance enthusiasts, Harmonix has done everything right with this sequel and I look forward to having more songs to dance to in the future with DLC. I can’t recommend this game enough for anyone who enjoyed the first Dance Central and for the new players thinking about picking the game up, do it and you won’t regret it. The game comes out 10/25 so let us know what you think of the game either in the comments below or in the forums!