Giant Bomb Review

24 Comments

Dance Central 2 Review

4
  • X360

Harmonix makes its original standard-setting dancing game all but obsolete with a little more structure, a few new features, and a fresh playlist of danceable new songs.

Busting moves in Dance Central 2 looks better than ever.

Even a year after the initial launch of the Kinect hardware, Harmonix’s Dance Central still remains one of the most compelling reasons to own Microsoft’s motion-sensing hardware. While this certainly speaks in part to the paucity of great experiences the Kinect has produced since then, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Dance Central did for shakin’ your rump what Guitar Hero and Rock Band did for making you feel like a rock star. Even if you’ve got two left feet and you’d never survive on an actual dance floor, you can still feel like a lock-poppin’ bad-ass in your living room, working up a decent sweat in the process. Dance Central 2 doesn’t reinvent this particular wheel, but it improves upon it with new features that range from using simple voice commands to queue up your favorite tracks to two-player simultaneous play. Dance Central 2 doesn’t feel as ambitious as the original Dance Central, though that’s admittedly asking a lot, since it still manages to fully replace its predecessor in every meaningful way.

Keeping with the Harmonix ethos of treating its games like platforms to be built upon, existing Dance Central players can seamlessly use any existing DLC they’ve purchased in Dance Central 2, and for a $5 fee, they can import all of the songs from the first game as well. Even if you haven’t already indulged in DLC, or this is your first Dance Central, the 44 tracks included on the disc are ample enough. Although it’s a fresh group of songs, the makeup of the Dance Central 2 playlist doesn’t stray too far from the tone established by the first game, with a distinct focus on modern club hits, and enough recognizable, older dance hits to keep the mix accessible. For every Donna Summer or Bobby Brown song, there’s a gaggle of David Guetta, Pitbull, and Usher tracks, but even if you don’t know the songs, they remain highly danceable.

Dancing with a friend cuts the awkwardness of pretending to know what you're doing.

This is partially because Harmonix has chosen a collection of really catchy tunes, regardless of era, but most of the credit has to go to the intuitive instruction and constant feedback of DC2’s dancing system, inherited almost whole-cloth from the first game. The idea is simple--you square up with a digital avatar, mimicking their moves with the help of a set of constantly rotating flash-cards--the flash-cards giving you the basic idea of what the next move will look like, and the avatar filling in the rest. If you’re not quite hitting your marks, the offending body parts will light up with a red outline, making it easier to adjust as is necessary. It feels roughly as responsive and accurate as it did in the original Dance Central, which may sound like faint praise, but without the strength of the game’s motion-recognition and its ability to provide you meaningful feedback in the moment about what you need to adjust in order to really kill it, the rest of the package would be meaningless.

Dance Central 2 builds on this strong base with some new features that seem so fundamental--like support for two-player simultaneous play, and the structured crew challenge story mode that introduces you to the game’s colorful collection of dance crews--it’s kind of hard to believe they weren’t in the original Dance Central to begin with. There are other additions, like the ability to use voice commands to quickly queue up a track; the ability to build your own custom playlists of songs; the improved flexibility of the instructional Break It Down mode, which makes it easier to single out specific moves in a routine that might have been giving you trouble; or the choice to make the interpretive freestyle sections of a song optional. These only come through iteration, but still have a meaningful impact on the experience. The whole thing feels more complete, and just a little bit slicker, with even flashier presentation, and more personality for the neon-futuristic dance crews.

Dance Central 2 is better than Dance Central, though that margin will vary significantly depending on how dissatisfied you were with the original’s lack of two-player support or a structured story mode to ease you into the experience. Personally, I was happy to just have more Dance Central, but what I got was better than that.

24 Comments
Posted by BONK

nice

Posted by dragonzord

teh bias

Posted by Liv

Is it possible to dance?

Posted by MasturbatingestBear

@zoner said:

teh bias

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan

Posted by DancingJesus

I love the emoticon for Ryan on 4 star reviews. It's so perfect.

Edited by cyraxible

Ryan's a dancebot.

Posted by sissylion

Ryan, you don't lock pops, you pop locks. I am ashamed of your lack of urban knowledge.

Edited by ProfessorEss
" Personally, I was happy to just have more Dance Central"  
That pretty much sums up what my wife and I are lookin' for.
 
This doesn't hurt either: 
Even with the asking price of Kinect, how can anyone not want this? 
 
I'm ret to get my sweat on tomorrow night. 
 
...like a fuckin' G6.
Edited by Winsord

GIDDY RYAN > SLEEPY RYAN

DANCE CENTRAL 2 WINS

But seriously, if I had a Kinect, this is one of the few games I'd pick up.

Posted by Ladnar

Awesome, just the information I needed (along with moving into a house instead of an apartment complex) to get this ordered for me and the girlfriend.

Ryan's 4 star avatar is constantly going "Eeeeeeeeeee" to me.

Posted by adoggz

@zoner said:

teh bias

i know just cause these guys hate harmonix doesnt mean that they shouldnt give dance central 2 the 5 stars it deserves.

Online
Posted by chilibean_3

How much dancing does John Drake have to do to get that fifth star?

Posted by Sander

Excellent review; elaborates confidently without indulging and gets the point across. There's no confusion like there often is with overly long reviews which do indulge themselves too much into the subjective.

Posted by TripMasterMunky

I lost like 20+ lbs playing the first game. Hope to do it again with this one.

Posted by mrcraggle

I'd pick up a Kinect and this game if it came with a free John Drake.

Posted by mazik765

Can't wait to pick this up.

Posted by Aegon

So Ryan favors the flashy Asian man. Nice to know. 

Posted by Cloudenvy

The Dance Central games are pretty much the only reason I've ever considered buying a Kinect.

Edited by FunExplosions
@dudley15 said:

my friend's aunt makes $84 an hour on the computer. She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her check was $8198 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about it here NuttyRich.com

WOW, MY CREDIT CARD NUMBER IS, wait a sec, I'm no idiot. I'll pm it to you.
Posted by Levio

@dudley15 said:

Read about it here NuttyRich.com

Finally, a candy bar for us 1% that doesn't skimp on the almonds!

Posted by Capstan

I can't wait to wrap my abs around Harmonix's new belly-dancing rhythm title, Dance Ventral!

Posted by Napalm

@TripMasterMunky said:

I lost like 20+ lbs playing the first game. Hope to do it again with this one.

Seriously? What was your regimen?

Posted by cooljammer00

Reviewing this and Just Dance 3?

Conflict of interest!

Posted by TheH1ppo

@Napalm said:

@TripMasterMunky said:

I lost like 20+ lbs playing the first game. Hope to do it again with this one.

Seriously? What was your regimen?

I actually did the same thing with the first game and never followed any hard and fast workout routine. A lot of the choreography is just so well put together and can look really cool so I never really needed to tell myself that I HAD to play for an hour this time or whatever.

The Quick Looks for DC1 and 2 are disappointingly unrepresentative of what you see in mid to high level play because they always play easy songs or simply don't play on hard, and the choreography totally changes based on difficulty.

There's a fitness mode that tracks time spent dancing and approximate calories burned based on how much and how fast you've been moving around, it's a good ballpark indicator of your workout.