Lasting First Impressions of Dance Central 3
Developed by Harmonix | Published by Microsoft
» The fall games rush is upon us and, right on schedule and hot on the heels of Rock Band Blitz, Harmonix brings us their latest entry in the series that is the reason to own an Xbox Kinect, Dance Central 3. As with all regular annual game franchises, the core of Dance Central remains the same as it was in previous entries in the series. The player is presented actual dance moves and the Kinect analyzes the moves and scores each action from failure to Flawless. Kinect itself is far from a perfect input method but Harmonix is in short company as a developer who know how to achieve greatness from this device. When a player is failing to achieve the required dance move, the onscreen guide’s limbs will highlight in red, giving the player a visual clue to correct their own stance. It’s not a perfect method since this only tells the player which leg/arm is wrong but doesn’t specify why; there were several times when I was doing exactly what the onscreen guide was doing but I was still being told my arms were wrong.
Unlike the previous titles in this series, Dance Central 3’s main gameplay is set up through a rather ludicrous, but fun, Story in which you, the player, are a newly hired “Agent” in DCI, Dance Central Intelligence. A rival gang of dancers has gained access to several key dance moves from songs of all ages. It is up to you to join agents throughout time, from the 70’s on through the current generation, in order to locate, decipher, and learn these dance crazes and finally, challenge the gang in the ultimate Dance Off. It’s a rather silly story, but certainly a fun way to experience all that Dance Central 3 has to offer. After all, who doesn’t want to dance like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever? Disco, anyone?
Utilizing the newly added Xbox feature of calorie tracking, Dance Central 3 allows players to enable this feature and every song played, in any mode, will count towards your total calories burned. For anyone looking for another fun way to exercise and and increase their cardio endurance, DC3 even allows you to set your own dancing goals for calories burned and days played per week. See? Exercise can be fun!
I thoroughly enjoyed the original Dance Central when it released 2 years ago and Dance Central 3 is just as much fun. I played through the entire 70’s campaign in story mode and really felt like I was back in the Disco age. Having grown up during that era, many of the dance moves were familiar to me and I was have a great time performing. I didn’t even feel silly or embarrassed to be doing it. In fact, I wished I had friends over to experience it with me. The only issue I had during this session was the absence of any way to exit the Story and return to the main menu using the Kinect controls, which now brilliantly include voice commands. Instead, I had to use a controller to navigate back to the main menu. This seemed a little odd to me for a game that is designed to be completely controlled using Kinect.
Dance Central 3 also features several modes, both new and old including Practice Mode and a new party mode. Party mode, once enabled, simply begins playing an endless set list and allows players to jump in and out of dancing anytime they want. If you want to play with a partner, a real-life high-five will begin partner mode. Party mode also allows up to 8 players to compete in two teams for the best score. Dance Central 3 is proving to be the biggest and the most complete Dance Central title to date and, as with all Harmonix series titles, all songs from previous DC games are importable into DC3.
Harmonix knows music. From Guitar Hero, to Rock Band, and now Dance Central, music is a part of their existence and they continue to elevate their love of music to all generations. Dance Central 3 takes the core gameplay that has been a success for them since the original title hit the Xbox Kinect in 2010, and has continually made it bigger and better in all ways. It is a fun game to enjoy alone or with friends, and one that makes you truly feel like you’re actually dancing and learning real dance moves (even if you feel like fool doing it!). It is a dancing experience that you will want to play over and over again, trying to get that one routine just perfect. Oh, and it’s good for your heart too! How many games can say that? It doesn’t take long to build up a good sweat playing Dance Central 3, so get those shorts and t-shirt on because you’re about to get your groove on!
Harmonix, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.