Review: Dance Central 3
Title: Dance Central 3
Platform: Xbox 360 (Kinect is required for play)
Tagline: Dance for Success while Time Traveling
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Buy It Already
For some, dancing is a form of art, where the extension of rhythm and the body come together in some sort of synergistic magic. For others, dancing is a painful exhibition of someone lacking any sort of timing or coordination. It is because of this that some refuse to ever get up from a table at a party to move their feet to the beat of music. Harmonix must have understood this when they created the Dance Central franchise, as it allows one to groove in the privacy of their own home and at their own skill level without worrying about the judging eyes of others watching your every move. Dance Central 3 expands on the franchise, now including a story mode to create what might be the pinnacle release in the series.
Sure, the core mechanics of Dance Central 3 are not much different from past iterations, with the same dance cards scrolling up the right side of the screen, and the red markers on the characters you are mimicking to show you if you are getting the moves right or wrong. Even adding a story mode (more on that in a minute) doesn’t make or break Dance Central 3, because it is all about the presentation and package that makes this such a fantastic experience to play.
I am not sure why more have not looked at Harmonix as the way to defeat the barrier to entry on the Kinect, because these folks have solved the Rubik’s Cube to successfully using Kinect. Navigation happens with simple swipes to select menu options, or raising and lowering your arm to move up and down through the menus. It is simple, elegant, and allows us to move away from the idea of select and wait that most Kinect titles ask when using menus and interface.
But it is more than just the navigation, as Dance Central 3 is easy to jump in and play. It is right there from the start when you open up the game, with the option to start the party, where you pick some songs and go. The devs know that some just want to get in and play and that option is right there to get things going without extra tinkering.
Of course, for some, they want to dive in and see more of what Dance Central 3 has to offer, and for those fans, the options are still there. You have the pick and play option, or the workout mode to use the game to help burn calories and even a practice mode where you can learn the songs step by step without the worry of scoring staring you in the face. But it is the Story mode that might be the best feature that Dance Central 3 has to offer and some might look at that with a puzzled look.
Story mode is played purely with the tongue slightly in cheek, as you are presented as a rookie working for Dance Central Intelligence. The evil Dr. Tan is messing with the time stream to take over the world, and only you can help save humanity. It seems ridiculous, but the story mode does something that past Dance Central games have not – make me explore the full set list of songs. As a time traveler, you go through five different time periods where you have to unlock the dance craze of that era. To unlock the craze, you will play through several songs of that era, and in turn, play through the full set list. It is something I was never compelled to do with prior games in the series and will get players to try out songs they may have skipped in the past.
It also helps that the track list is superb, picking hits from every decade. Whether you jam is YMCA, In Da Club or Electric Boogie, everyone will find tracks that they will enjoy from all the different eras. Dance Central 3 does the one thing that Rock Band has not and that is making sure that there is not a dud in the list. And if you tire of the set list, but own either Dance Central or Dance Central 2, you can import those songs into the game and play them in standalone or start the party modes.
About the only problem I came across that marred my playing experience is when you unlock the dance craze of the era you are playing, it does not seem to explain or show off the moves as clearly as it needs to, and it lead to me failing out the first few times. Here, you get a barebones presentation of an avatar, instead of one of the DCI Agents showing the moves. It is a nitpick for sure, but it was irritating to have to play through the craze section several times to hit everything perfectly. I feel this could have been solved by using one of the characters in the game test you on the craze moves.
Dance Central 3 without the story mode still would be a great game for fans of the series and for those looking for a solid dance experience for use with their Kinect device, but it would not be much different from the previous incarnations. With the addition of the story mode and a killer set list, Dance Central 3 easily becomes a must have title for all dancing skill levels.
- Great set list
- Story mode is fun and makes use of entire set list
- Kinect support and navigation are the best around
- Tracks can be imported from prior games
- Craze test in story mode is poorly implemented
- Beyond story mode, game is the same as last year
Dance Central 3 is easily defined as a dance game that is safe for all family members. Whether they are 5, 40 or 80, the game is tailored for anyone to jump in and play. It has multiple difficulty levels for all skill sets and easy navigation for those new to motion navigation.