Dance Central 3 Review

Lee Abrahams

Kinect was billed as motion control with a hardcore twist, meant to appeal to those staunch gamers who were insolently opposed to getting off the couch and flailing their limbs to accomplish tasks that had previously required a touch of a button. While Kinect has never quite delivered on that initial promise (which is what happens when Peter Molyneux is your hype man) at least it hasn’t totally gone down the route of abject shovelware. Unsurprisingly the two genres that are most represented belong to the sports and dance category and, equally unsurprisingly, when those games work well – they work VERY well indeed.

Dance Central hit the ground running as one of the first big Kinect titles and, ever since then, has barely put a foot wrong. Offering a blend of popular, and not so popular (but at least cheesy enough to dance to with only a modicum of embarrassment) music, it’s always managed to keep players and spectators entertained. The latest iteration doesn’t stray from the original formula too much. But then it doesn’t have to, and the few tweaks and additions make it worth your time upgrading. Plus the lure of having a host of new songs to shake your booty to is almost good enough.

Miss Aubrey returns. Don’t pretend you’re not happy.

The game plays just as it always has done. You have to follow the on-screen movements and attain the best scores possible, with the Kinect sensor doing a superb job of tracking your movements considering some of the complex gyrations you’ll be expected to pull off. It’s simple enough in theory, but after some time away from the game, it can be hard to get back into the groove. While the game does let you practice routines and specific moves, the fact it just flashes red on the offending limbs (that aren’t obeying your funky whims) rather than showing you what is going wrong can make it hard to improve. Certainly this game feels like it has a much steeper learning curve for newcomers, so be prepared to spend as much time rehearsing as you do actually playing full songs.

Unlike most games that see you jump straight into the single-player experience, Dance Central 3 is all about the multiplayer. That is not to say that you can’t have some fun playing solo, but the best times will undoubtedly come when you have a room full of people willing to put their pride on the line and step in front of the monitor. Be aware that inebriation can help people show their, ahem, finest moves. Simply high-five your nearest and dearest in order to challenge them to a dance off and then prepare for all hell to break loose. If you have a room full of cronies then you can set up rival dance crews to go head to head until one team emerges victorious. A variety of mini-games help spice up the challenge, and the Make A Move feature lets you freestyle your own dance skills and dare your rival to copy them. As ever it’s riotous fun with the right people, and as a party game it's hard to beat.

Time to bust out some moves.

Once the party dies down and you are left to pick up the pieces then you can indulge in the story mode, and what a story it is. Seeing you join up with Dance Central Intelligence, you have to travel through time to master various dance crazes and stop the malicious Dr Tan and his army of robots from taking over the world. What? Exactly. Don’t stop to try and make sense of it all, just enjoy the ride through a barrage of music, clichés and bizarre clothing choices. The one down side is that the solo experience can prove fairly arduous for the uninitiated and, without that group vibe, is just not as compelling to push through.

In fact the biggest gripe that can be levelled at Dance Central 3 is ubiquitous for the entire genre, in that you just won’t get as much out of it on your own. Sure the story is fun, you can practice various dances, burn calories or whatever, but without someone stood next to you, ready to either shame or be shamed, it just doesn’t have that same buzz. Thankfully that’s a minor quibble and probably the reason the story is so preposterous, in order to keep you hooked. The music selection covers such a range of hits, and forgotten classics, that you’ll constantly be skipping through the range rather than sticking to one or two favourites. The fact you can port over your collection from previous games is also a handy option and lets you flesh out your playlist even more for those nights when a crowd of you are ready to drop it like it's hot.

Synchronised shenanigans.

The achievements list is actually fairly disappointing if truth be told. With points on offer for dancing to each and every song, utilising a bunch of social media aspects of the game (including Facebook if you dare) and maxing out your skills on some of the tougher tracks, then it's so far so expected. Unfortunately you will also have to hit 10k worth of flawless moves in your time with the game and unlock and utilise all available costumes to boot. Tasks like these make the list a bit more of a grind than it should be and a few more quirky tasks wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Dance Central 3 is the finest dance game on Kinect, and probably the finest game full stop, and manages to do it all with effortless ease. The few additions here are certainly worthwhile, especially for people with interested friends, and the fleshed out story mode is more than welcome too. If you didn’t like dance games then this might not be enough to sway you, and the modifications are subtle rather than sweeping changes, but like that song that grows on you – Dance Central 3 is a game that gets under your skin and makes your feet move of their own accord. So just go with it.

Some great music mixed in with a few strange choices but at least everything is in keeping with the theme and the chance to import songs from the previous games is welcome.

A cornucopia of colour and visual effects, though it is nothing that the previous two games haven’t done before and is hardly likely to blow you away. Still you’re here to dance, not be dazzled by imagery.

A game that looks simple when you see someone playing it and then turns your body into unresponsive jelly. Give it time and it will have you hooked for one more go, grab a buddy or two, or three, and the party will have trouble ending.

A lovely blend of music and moves, though newcomers may need some practice in order to get up to speed. The story mode, party options and general sense of fun mean you will never be short of options.

A fairly generic list and one that will come down to quite a bit of grinding to get it all done, 10,000 Flawless moves is certainly not something for the faint of heart.

A series that has reached the height of its powers and shows exactly why dance games reign supreme on Kinect. The ridiculous, quirky story is a wonderful diversion and, as ever, partying and shaming your friends is the way to play. Subtle tweaks and changes have helped to mould Dance Central 3 into the definitive dance experience so pull on your flares (or equivalent gear) and hit the floor.

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