Dance Central 2
The rhythm genre has been expanding exponentially of late, and with the introduction of motion controls on all consoles this has further expanded the scope of this party favourite genre to include the now overwhelmingly saturated dancing games. But as saturated as it is there is still one title that all others aspire to be, Dance Central. Can Dance Central 2 continue this legacy?
The answer is an undeniable yes. Dance Central 2 brings all the same charm and solid mechanics of it predecessor but with some minor tweaks that add up to big improvements.
The dance and fitness options return acting as the default modes whilst a new campaign type mode, Crew Challenge, tasks you to dance you way to the top through earning respect by impressing a bunch of different dance teams. It's not the most compelling reason to keep playing, that honour certainly goes to the party centric content, but it does provide some sentiment of structure to an otherwise free-for-all party game and this is magnified by two player cooperative play.
Simultaneous two-player side by side is available on all modes and allows for cooperative progression against the aforementioned dance crews in the campaign as well as a completely re-worked battle mode based on the original that incorporates improvisation breaks in-between songs and drop in and drop out play. Multiplayer is absolutely the selling point for Dance Central 2 and it surpasses the already brilliant original significantly thanks to the replacement of turn based play. Getting a group of friends of family members together for a dance showdown has seldom been so easy or so fun.
However, despite is clear multiplayer focus, it's pretty challenge right from the offset. The comprehensive set of dance moves you must imitate can get overwhelming. Fortunately an improved Break it Down mode can teach you the moves gradually and best prepares you for the full experience. Improvements include being able to choose specific dance moves from a list rather than dancing through a whole routine, voice commands for navigating the menus, and recording a video of your own performance for you to analyse on playback. It's a great set of tutorials sporting cleaver design to give you the instruction to get the most out of the game.
Indeed the choreography is expansive and with this comes the inevitable set of complex moves, the tutorials certainly help but acing those moves come crunch time is still a challenging task. Dance Central is one of the few Kinect titles that emphasises the accuracy required in your movements and will require some serious commitment. With no arrows or other intrusive visual markers to guide you it's all based on you copying the onscreen dancer's actions with only the static move cards at the side of the screen. If you should mess up a move, your offending limb on the on-screen dancer will glow red to give you an indication of your fault, but otherwise help is limited. However, this challenge is all part of the Dance Central charm and it never compromises the overall fun.
Dance Central 2 is unquestionable great fun to play and big part of what keeps you engaged is the immersive presentation. The comic aesthetic has a charm of its own with the neon lines of the dancer's limbs and in the background making for a nice contrast. The presentation continues to impress with small but well designed details like the congratulatory ding of a bell when you pull off a move successfully down to the 40 plus song included on the disc featuring some of the most popular hits around. Additionally the majority of DLC from the original Dance Central will carry over to Dance Central 2 and you can even import songs from the original's disc, turning Dance Central 2 into the complete package.
Dance Central 2 is certainly one of the best Kinect games available and is equally one of the best dancing games across all platforms. However, whilst Dance Central 2 is certainly better than its predecessor, it's only better because it builds on an already impressive framework. It's a must buy for those yet to indulge in the series if you have a Kinect and may prove to convert some to the motion control scene, but veteran dancers will find a far improved multiplayer experience and some extra moves and songs to master but a more than familiar experience to what came before.