Last week Dance Central 2 released in Singapore, and believe us when we say that our slight silence for those few days were in part due to Dance Central 2. Ever since we got a taste of the new Dance Central we’ve been jonesing for more, and when Dance Central 2 was available…. well I can’t speak for the others but I think that I’ve been playing it probably everyday. But Dance Central was a breakout game, and probably the best use of the Kinect system yet. How much better could Dance Central 2 be?
Now, the game’s still the same. You follow flashcards, and you dance. You can’t change very much to that winning mix, after all. But this time it feels like the choreographers took off the training wheels, both from the system and in treating the people who play the game. After playing Dance Central 2, it feels like the original Dance Central is a lot more static, restricting the player to certain planes of movement, and having very restrained transition points from move to move. Dance Central 2 is waaay more fluid, and has a lot more movement; forward, backward and side to side.
The choreography is also ramped up, now with a slew of new moves as well as a lot more moves that are specific to a song. This means that choreography is more difficult, but surprisingly also a little bit more intuitive. Moves flow one from another, and you don’t need to return to some sort of default ‘center’ position to transition to the next move. They’ve tweaked the scoring system that you should still be able to score 3-4 stars on most songs even if you’re not a great dancer, so don’t worry about that, and if you’ve actually mastered the dance, it really feels like you’ve just learn an actual choreography. Which feels great if dancing doesn’t come naturally to you.
The story mode has also upped it’s game, going from just progressing from one story to another to an actual story of beating a series of dance crews before finally confronting the ‘final boss’, the elusive Dr Tan, only glimpsed in the first dance battle. To be honest, this didn’t do much for me: Dance Central has always been more about having fun with friends than any sort of narrative, but it’s there for people who want it.
But the area Harmonix has really stepped up their game with is in gameplay. Voice commands are now available in Dance Central 2, and while it might not seem like much during song selection, the ability to go back a move, speed up and slow down via voice command is absolute golden in break it down. Add to that the ability to practice SPECIFIC moves (rather than needing to go through an entire song to practice a few moves) means that break it down is going to see a lot more use than it did in the first dance central.
AND TWO PLAYER SIMULTANEOUOS DANCING! Anyone can join in now during normal dance sessions, but what really makes this shine is the dance battles! No more do you have to stand on the sidelines and wait your turn, you can literally just run in an dance together with the previous player. Add to this an amazingly fun ‘dance any move’ section where you and your compatriot have to jostle for specific moves on flashcards means that Dance Central just got 10 times more party and 10 times more awesome.
There are still annoyances to the game, of course. The loss of the percentages after every game means that it’s harder to tell how well you did from song to song, and part of me still prefers the old characters and aesthetics (Oblio, Dare and McCoy disappeared in favour of Li’l T, Bodie, Glitch and the Glitterati), but these things are really just annoyances. And I cannot imagine anyone who would have the Kinect without Dance Central or Dance Central 2.