Travel through time and prevent dance crimes. Really!
Did you ever imagine you would be doing The Macarena in Microsoft’s flagship Kinect dancing game? No, me neither. But before you run screaming from the room, picturing a whole new level of embarrassment never seen before, let me tell you that there is a good reason. Time travel…
As with the other seasonal dancing title, Just Dance, Harmonix know well enough not to mess with the core gameplay in Dance Central 3. Whilst leaping around the makeshift dancefloor and shaking your booty in time to the music, hopefully mirroring the on-screen move indicators, has never been the most deep and meaningful gameplay experience, in a party atmosphere it hits the spot. Prepare to get sweaty and have your dancing skills tested to the full, as Dance Central uses the Kinect sensor to watch everything you do and will most certainly let you know if you are not doing it right. There is no waggling a controller in time with the music here. In fact, playing a Dance Central game will actually make you a better dancer. But don’t be put off by the chance you may learn something. It’s still a lot of fun.
And a lot of that fun comes from the fact that the Kinect sensor actually works in Dance Central. It may not be perfect and still has the occasional hiccup where moves are simply not detected properly, but the party atmosphere in which this game will most likely be used makes these occasions nothing more than a minor annoyance. For the most part Kinect works well.
So, the core game remains the same. Where Dance Central 3 makes changes over the previous titles is in the padding, things like the game modes, and the addition of a story. Yep, you heard me right. This dancing game has a story.
Which is where the time travel comes in. In the Dance Central 3 single player campaign, players are enrolled into Dance Central Intelligence and tasked with heading back through time to work through popular dance crazes from the 70s, right up to modern day. The purpose of this is to stop Dr. Tan from destroying Dance Central, although I feel that the real purpose may be to make the player learn a collection of dances that they would never normally be seen dead performing. It also gives the player a good reason to work their way through every song in the game, even the ones they don’t like.
The tracklist is probably the most enduring reason for picking up Dance Central 3. The single player story is kind of pointless, but fun nonetheless, and there are some more additions that we can cover in a moment. But the very real draw of adding another 45 tracks to your library will be difficult to resist for any Dance Central fan. Thanks to the new story, the selection of tracks feels much more varied this time around, with songs from the seventies right the way through to current club hits. No matter when the song was released, they can all be danced to in a controller free manner.
Let’s face it, dancing games are all about proving who is the best dancer in a multiplayer atmosphere, or at least showing who is the least bad dancer, and a new mode in Dance Central 3 allows players to form teams and aggressively taunt each other as they face off. Crew Throwdown can be played by two teams of up to four players and feels like a good way to work out some group aggression, as players take it in turns to step up and humiliate themselves against members of the opposing team. Different games can be played, such as having to strike poses or expand on the previous players moves, ensuring that the dance action never gets old.
And perhaps the greatest enhancement to this version of Dance Central, at least for the party animals out there, is the way the game can integrate itself into any party by being left running and allowing passing party-goers to jump in whenever they wish. No more mucking around with menus while everyone else parties down, just hop in front of the Kinect sensor, wave your arms to choose a song and mode, then a high five gets the game going. It’s a brilliant way to keep the party moving.
The changes are not huge in this latest version of Harmonix’s dancing game, but the reality is that parties don’t really need anything more than a new tracklist and the chance to get down. The quirky story mode will give players a reason to go solo, if only to learn some new moves they can use in multiplayer, and the Crew Throwdown mode will provide some good fun for small groups. Due to the relatively successful way the Kinect unit works in Dance Central 3, the game is quite simply the best game available for the full body motion controller. Dance Central 3 is a guilty pleasure – pick it up for the parties, but play it alone for the fun.