Review: Dance Central 2 (Kinect)

Review: Dance Central 2 (Kinect)

I’ve got moves. You may hear otherwise from certain parties, but that’s just sheer jealousy and envy talking. My moves are mad dope fly, yo, and anyone who steps to me best be ready to get served, old school. I’ve got moves like Jagger. I’m too legit to quit. You ready to step up? Well, bring it on! It’s time for Dance Central 2: Electric Boogaloo, and my moves are so funky fresh they’ll make you want to slap your momma. BREAK IT DOWN.

Harmonix has improved upon the original Dance Central in their follow-up, Dance Central 2, in every possible way. The only, and I do mean only, flaw I can find with the Dance Central series is that it doesn’t allow online multiplayer a-la Rock Band. I’d love to Dance Battle my cousin across town, or a friend across country, from the comfort of my own living room. That being said, I can only hope that Dance Central 3 incorporates online multiplayer.

With Dance Central 2’s one flaw exposed and out of the way, it’s time to go into a few paragraphs of brutal, unrelenting, merciless praise.

Let’s start with the best update to Dance Central 2: voice control. Dance Central 2 has gone a long way towards making the game totally hands free. As soon as the game starts up, you’re able to activate the voice control module by saying, “Xbox Dance!” You choose your song, “Song Baby Got Back,” followed by your game mode, “Mode Break It Down (or Perform It, or Dance Battle),” and your difficulty, “Difficulty Easy (or Medium, or Hard).” Once you’ve got it all set, “Xbox Dance!” once more and your performance begins. The advancement goes farther than just simple song selection, however.

Let’s move it, move it into the feature of the Dance Central series that really makes it stand out above the other dance games: Break It Down mode. Break It Down, in the previous Dance Central, was a simple way of learning all of the moves of the selected song before going into a full performance. It would take you through each dance move of the song individually, then link them together so that you could learn the transitions between moves. It was a fantastic mode that really made the game more accessible for people unfamiliar with the sublime art of dance. In Dance Central 2, Break It Down is given a major upgrade. Integrating the game’s new voice control system, you can slow down the move you’re currently working on with a simple, “Xbox Slow Down!” This results in a dramatically slowed demonstration of the move with a step by step walk-through from the dance coach. If you’re more of a visual learner, you can call out, “Xbox Record Video!” The Kinect will record the next move you perform, and do a playback next to the dance coach so that you can see where your movements are off, and adjust yourself accordingly. Are there a mixture of moves from various dances that continue giving you trouble? Well, you can create a Break It Down playlist to go through all of the moves that you get tripped up on the most. Dance Central already had a better move training system than any other dance game. Dance Central 2 came harder and represented, yo.

Perform It is much the same, except for the addition of multiplayer. A second player can jump in at any time and attack the song in co-op with you simply by raising their right hand for Kinect recognition. The real co-op fun comes in the Dance Battle mode. Dance Battle starts off with both players dancing simultaneously, but throws in a couple of solo performances for each player, and a Free 4 All mini-game for bonus points. The Free 4 All mini-game is a lot of fun, and really well implemented. Four cards appear on the screen, each one detailing a dance move. Performing the dance moves earns you points. If you are unopposed on a dance move, it’s yours. If you and your opponent start doing the same dance move card, the first person to do it best gets the points, and the other gets left behind to try to catch up with other cards. Once a Free 4 All is done, you are dropped right back into the dance sequence of the song you’re battling in. Crew Challenge is the new campaign mode, and it’s got a story to it. You’re a young up-and-comer in the dance scene, and you’ve got to prove to the crews that you’ve got what it takes to bust a move like the best of them. You subsequently bust said moves to earn respect and the right to rep the crews you’ve impressed.

The new playlist functionality is great for uninterrupted dancing. Do you just feel the need…the need for dance? Put your favorite songs into a non-stop (until the end of the last song, of course; heavens forbid a truly non-stop dance party) playlist of boogie. Looking to use Dance Central 2 as a way to work off the extra weight? Tired of being the fat guy in a little coat? Use the playlist to give yourself a long, timed, entertaining dance workout that has you listening to great music and enjoying yourself with the pleasant side effect of exercise!

I mentioned that I’d like Dance Central to have online multiplayer, a-la Rock Band. Well, that hasn’t happened with this entry in the series, but it does have similarities to its musical performance cousin: song importing. Owners of the original Dance Central, for the low, low price of 400MSP, can download a pack that contains all of the original disc-based songs of Dance Central. Your purchased songs automatically carry over at no charge, mind you. This is only to transfer all of the disc-based songs for play in Dance Central 2. Now you’ve got all of your favorite songs at the tip of your finger…tips.

Speaking of your favorite songs, the Dance Central 2 song list takes care to mark each of the original Dance Central songs in your list after import, so you can keep track of each song’s source with a quick glance. Once you select a song, you’re given a visual preview of what the dance moves contained within look like, so you have one last chance to see what you’re getting yourself into. It also shows you your score information and leaderboard position.

Without a doubt, Dance Central 2 is an absolute improvement over Dance Central, and while it hasn’t expanded to four player multi-player, it executes its two player multi-player beautifully, across all songs. The new voice control element is absolutely fantastic, Break It Down’s upgrades make it even easier for those not possessed of my singularly remarkable talent to get into the groove, and the ability to import your Dance Central songs means you’ve got the entire Dance Central experience on one disc. At $49.99, this is simply the best dance game you can buy, on any platform.


Awesome voice control.
Expanded Break It Down mode.
No online multiplayer yet.
95 out of 100

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