Game Review: 'Dance Central 3' for XBox 360

Game Review: ‘Dance Central 3’ for XBox 360

If you have a Kinect, chances are that it isn’t the most used accessory of your XBox 360. Though tons have been sold, there hasn’t been great support of good games for it. In fact, many have been downright disappointing like Star Wars Kinect. The shining light for Kinect has been the Dance Central series.

With the first two titles, Dance Central has proven to be one of the best applications of the Kinect technology in terms of accurate recording of the player’s movements and giving a fun experience that actually utilizes the Kinect technology in a fun way. Now, for the third year in a row, the team at Harmonix brings back its dance craze inspired game with incredible results in the form of Dance Central 3.

The Long

If you’ve never played a Dance Central title before, the premise of the game is very simple. Players stand in front of the Kinect controller and mirror the movements they see of the characters on screen. The angle of their arms, legs and body are all monitored by the Kinect as a player follows the motions on screen. The accuracy of the player’s movements determines how well they score on each dance move. Higher scores mean more stars, which have been trend in Harmonix’s music games for some time now.

Unlike many Kinect titles, because the game is monitoring the players motions and not trying to translate them into on screen 1 to 1 movements of the characters there is almost no delay in the Kinect recognizing and applying what the player is doing. In other games where a player must make a motion and then the Kinect recreates that movement on screen, there is a noticeable delay. Because Dance Central 3 doesn’t have that extra step, player’s movements are instantly compared to what is happening on screen to allow for more fluid gameplay.

And, unlike more casual dance games like Just Dance on the Wii, Dance Central 3 recording all of a players movements instead of just showing them how they should be dancing ends up making players give a much more accurate performance when they see whether or not they are accurately hitting the moves on screen.

One thing that always stands out about Dance Central (and of course Dance Central 3 is no exception) is that the game is a workout. Even with the windows open and a fan going, this game will make you sweat. And that is a good thing considering how many a gamer should do what they can to stay in shape. What’s great about Dance Central 3 being a work out is that it is actually fun to do. Instead of many workout games that just give you a repetitive routine to follow, the combination of popular music and some pretty intense dance moves keeps you motivated to keep going.

Dance Central 3 does a great job, this time more than ever, of picking a wide variety of dance music for players. Because of the game’s story mode, there are more iconic dance songs that make their way into the game. “The Hustle”, “The Electric Slide”, “Macarena” and more find their way into Dance Central 3. While previous games had popular dance music, Dance Central 3 also now includes popular and iconic dances, further decreasing the barrier to entry for the game.

In addition, there are some awesome high energy tracks chosen to be a part of the game like “Sexy and I Know It” and “Get Low”. Unfortunately, Harmonix did feel the need to include Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” but I guess we can forgive them for one bad song out of an entire playlist. As always, players can use all DLC from previous titles and transfer the song libraries from Dance Central and Dance Central 2 to their hard drive to give Dance Central 3 a massive library of songs to play through using all of the game’s new multiplayer features.

One of the most interesting aspects of the game is the addition of a story mode. Now, my initial reaction was the same as anyone else’s. It’s a music game. Why would it need a story mode? Well the truth is, it doesn’t need a story mode as previous Dance Central games have shown us. But it does benefit from one. Instead of just unlocking songs by beating groups of music of various difficulties, players engage in a completely campy (and self-aware) plot that puts them as a member of the DCI as they travel through time to take on the evil Dr. Tan who is trying to take over using “Project Lockstep”.

By going back in time, players figure out the dance crazes of past decades and use these to fight Tan. As ridiculous as it sounds, it helps make sense of this world and does actually add an extra layer and incentive for players to go through each song as they attempt to stop Dr. Tan. While it isn’t going to be a narrative masterpiece like Mass Effect or Bioshock, it does add that little extra hook to go through all of the music in the game and not just focus on the songs that players are most familiar with.

The best addition to multiplayer is the Crew Throwdown mode. Players come up with teams of up to four players each and the Kinect camera randomly selects members of each team to face off. The feature works best for those nights where people want to have a small party but don’t want to go out and spend a lot of money. The random selections by Dance Central 3 for what minigames come up and which players must compete in them make it an ideal party game for anyone who likes to dance.

The Short

As with previous Dance Central titles, Dance Central 3 is a must buy for anyone with a Kinect. Even if you don’t go out and dance in the clubs, it is still fun to grab a few drinks (if you are of age of course) and dance to the music of DC3. Those with any experience dancing are going to love the layers of difficulty in the game while anyone whole might not be rhythmically inclined will be happy to find they can still enjoy the game in its easier modes.

The selection of songs provided in the game will fit most personalities and even some songs that people may think they don’t like will become favorites to dance along to. Dance Central 3 can give a player a workout but it doesn’t feel as intimidating as tossing in a fitness game, even though they may end up burning off more calories in the end. In the end, Dance Central 3 keeps the franchise going strong and atop the party game scene across any platform.

XBox 360 (for Kinect only)

Developer: Harmonix

Publisher: Harmonix

Price: $59.99

Score: 8.0