All the right moves
Generally speaking, I’m pretty good at videogames. I can outrace, outscore and outshoot most of the folks on my friends list with relative ease, giving me a fairly strong sense of gaming prowess over the years. But hen along came the rhythm genre, and after getting drubbed in Guitar Hero and Rock Band by everyone from my childhood best friend to my game-fearing little brother, I decided that maybe the whole music genre wasn’t for me.
And then I played Dance Central. Aside from giving my Kinect an excuse to glare at me from atop the entertainment center, here was a game that encapsulated all the hallmarks of a great party title: a simple interface, rockin’, great for groups, and endless opportunities to embarrass oneself regardless of how well or poorly you’ve played. Plus, it allowed me to break out of my rhythm-game curse via my wealth of white-boy dance moves.
Now in its third installment, Harmonix’s nerd-movement-encouragement-engine has become much more than an opportunity for me to exact revenge on unsuspecting casual-gamer friends—it’s become an institution, streamlining much of what we’ve come to expect and adding a host of intelligent features that boost an already solid core.
The soundtrack’s easily my favorite to date, featuring more than 40 tracks spanning over four decades of music—including top-notch dance hits like the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A,” Lil Jon’s “Get Low,” and Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat”—that are all creativity presented in a surprisingly entertaining story mode that serves both as a subtle addition to the game’s tutorials and an excellent alternative for those who favor dancin’ with themselves, Billy Idol style.
The mode does have its moments of frustration due to the occasional difficulty ramp up— especially when “decoding” dance data from a particular era—but between the overall presentation and the humor contained throughout, the campaign still serves as a massive upgrade for the franchise.
Another area that takes a major leap forward is the multiplayer department, as the newly added Crew Throwdowns—which lean on the ability to face off with player-generated dance moves—blend with a tweaked party mode to deliver one of the best true social game experiences I’ve ever played.
Dance Central 3 still offers some frustrations with the Kinect sensor recognizing certain moves, the learning curve is still a bit steeper than it could be, and having to pay to import old tracks from versions you’ve already purchased is the worst sort of corporate vileness, but all things considered, Dance Central 3 is a major step up from its predecessor that proves to be much more than the Kinect’s best example of a functional game. It’s an incredible party game and a deceptively fun fitness tool that allows gamers of all ages and experience levels to get their groove on. Plus, hey, it’s the only game on the planet that could inspire me to get my dance on to the “Biebs.” That alone kinda makes it the stuff of legend in my book.
SUMMARY: Yet another triumph for the techno-troupe at Harmonix, Dance Central 3 rocks the house with all the style and substance you’d expect from the third entry in the series, offering a solid story and addictive multiplayer in this jammin’ journey through the last few decades of club-rockin’ tunes.
- THE GOOD: New modes, new tracks, and a stellar story.
- THE BAD: The subconscious feeling that Dr. Tan may be based on my real-world clubbing exploits.
- THE UGLY: Feeling genuinely triumphant after whuppin’ my girlfriend’s ass to a Justin Bieber song.
Dance Central 3 is an Xb0x 360 exclusive.