STAFF REVIEW of Dance Central 3 (Xbox 360)

Friday, November 9, 2012.
by Adam Dileva

Dance Central 3 Box art Known as the game that sold Kinect at launch, Dance Central returns for the third time with some fresh moves and a new look built on top of a solid base of dance moves. It’s time once again to dust off your Kinect once again and start shaking your booty to the new iteration in the series. On the disc you’ll receive over forty new songs to dance and sweat to, though if you own Dance Central and Dance Central 2 you’re also given the option to import all those songs into Dance Central 3 (for a small fee of 400 Microsoft Points) for a robust song library.

Surprisingly, Dance Central 3 boasts a story mode that’s not only entertaining, but completely silly and off the wall, though it’s partly why I enjoyed it. You’ll be dancing through each of the decades starting at the 70’s and working your way onwards to the music of today. You’re a member of the Dance Central Intelligence (DCI) and you’re going to be traveling through time to stop the evil Dr. Tan from eliminating dance before it’s too late. You’ll do this by traveling back in time to previous decades to meet up with the other dance crews that were sent back to learn the hottest dance moves of that era to battle against Dr. Tan. You’ll learn era icon moves like The Hustle, The Electric Slide, The Macarena, The Dougie, and more on your quest.

When you enter a decade you’re given a list of 4 songs to choose from that coincide with that era and then dance them to the best of your ability. There are two requirements to dance to the “era craze” song (essentially the ‘boss’ song); the first being obtaining 15 stars over the course of the four songs in the selection, and the second being able to decipher a handful of “era craze” dance moves that you’ll use in the final song of the decade. During certain songs, you’ll see special moves that need to be mimicked for you to unlock them to progress. Sometimes these moves are easy and other times these moves can be extremely frustrating to master, causing numerous retries.

For those that have played the previous games, the core mechanics stay mostly unchanged, and for those new to the series, Dance Central uses Kinect’s full body tracking to allow you to mimic dance moves shown on screen and score you based on how well and accurate you recreate those moves. The harder the difficulty, the more moves and more difficult they become and the better you’ll look on the dance floor (hopefully) once you learn the actual choreography. For those that are not so gifted in the dancing department, Dance Central 3 finally introduces a Beginner Mode for those completely new to the dancing games or those with two left feet.

A dancing game is only as strong as its song lineup and Dance Central 3 tries it’s best to cover all the bases, regardless of your musical preferences. Music from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and even modern hits are all included on the disc and playable from the start. Everyone is going to have their favorites and songs they avoid, but here’s just a few of the songs that I really enjoyed that stood out for me: "Around the World" by Daft Punk, "Better Off Alone" by Alice DeeJay, "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" by Backstreet Boys, "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice, "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5, "Sexy and I Know It" by LMFAO, and “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” by New Kids On The Block (my wife would kill me if I didn’t list one of her favorite songs ever is finally in Dance Central). Other massive gits from today are also coming as DLC hopefully sooner than later like "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen and "Gangnam Style" by PSY. It’s clear Harmonix knows their music and what the fans want.

Dance Central 3 is also going to be one of the first games to support the new SmartGlass functionality by using your tablet or smartphone to allow you to queue up or change songs in specific modes. You’ll be able to create playlists to suit the party’s mood and requests, purchase DLC to buy on your Xbox, and even track calories burned as well. I’m excited to try this SmartGlass feature out in a party setting, as having the option to rotate songs on the fly without going into menus seems very fitting.

Party Mode is a fun multiplayer mode that allows you to dance to random songs and play minigames during the routines as well. Depending on how well (or not so well) they are performing, usually dependent on how many drinks everyone has had, the game will actually adjust the difficulty to the appropriate levels. So those that aren’t as gifted in the dance department, fear not, as this mode will actually adjust to your skillset rather than you constantly trying to play catch up.

The newest feature included in Dance Central 3 is also its biggest one yet. Crew Throwdown is a competitive party mode that allows two teams of up to four dancers each compete head to head to finally settle one and for all who just got served. Your crew will have to prove their moves in a series of performances, battles and mini-games to prove who the hottest crew is. The most hilarious mini-game in this mode though is without a doubt the “Make Your Move” game, which has players making up routines on the fly and challenging the other crew to match the moves. The only issue with this mode is that you’ll need an obscene amount of living space room to accommodate this mode properly.

Those familiar with the previous games will be happy to know that all the familiar faces, crews, and mechanics return in Dance Central 3 but with a fresh new look to match different eras. The new multiplayer modes are welcome, though keep in mind you’ll need to possibly clear out the whole living room just to accommodate that amount of people. I found more songs in Dance Central 3 that I wanted to keep playing over and over when compared to the previous games, and the soundtrack is definitely more varied and broad. You’ll unlock new characters and costumes for the characters as you level up and progress through the game while dancing the night away.

There was only one major issue I ran into during my play through and it was quite a frustrating hurdle to overcome. In the story mode when you’re about to play the “era craze” song you need to prove that you’ve masters the moves that will be used for that song. The issue I ran into was that it won’t let you progress until you master each of the four moves and if you get stuck on a certain move, there’s no way to bypass it. The problem with this is that it’s not done in the traditional level style where you can see red outlines on the limbs that aren’t doing the proper motions; instead you just get a pass or fail without knowing why, so you’ve never told what you were doing wrong which seems counter-intuitive when you’re trying to master a specific move set. After literally doing the Macarena for fifteen minutes without success (though I’m not sure why since I unlocked the move by doing it in the first place) I asked the wife to try. After another ten straight minutes she somehow got it, but we weren’t sure why or how. So you can essentially get blocked from progressing without the game telling you why, so just be warned of potential fnix is known for being one of the few companies that understands Kinect and somehow always makes the game that seems to work flawlessly where many others fail to simply work. They’ve done such a good job in the past that Dance Central is known as the reason you buy a Kinect, and what they’ve done with Dance Central 3 is no different. More than just a glorified track pack, Dance Central 3 once again shows how fun it can be to get together with a group of friends and simply dance the night away while laughing at one another’s moves, or lack thereof.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 9.5 / 10


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