To begin, I have both Dance Central 1 and 2. Whereas I loved 1 for its novelty, 2 brought in some extra bling through the crew challenges. However, it was with 2 that I felt a little let down as the tracks were a bit one dimensional and it felt like they didn't really put that much effort into the routines. I'm no dancer, I just do this for exercise and fun, so what do I know. I was really sceptical when I heard that Harmonix will be delighting us with a 3rd Dance Central a 3rd year in a row. So why did I buy it. Luckily, Xbox gave us the opportunity to download the demo and it was somehow...different. More energetic and more fun. And due to that, I went out and bought it.
Let's get into the review.
Dance Central is the leader in the pack of dancing games on Kinect that maybe only The Black Eyed Peas Experience can rival. When people buy these Kinect games they often talk about the gameplay, but unfortunately it's so much more complicated than that. In the technological world we live, everything starts with an interface; and it's here that Kinect has had more boo-boos than thumbs up. Take the Just Dance games on Kinect - their interfaces are horrendous. Even after Just Dance 3 they gave us the same glitchy and twitchy interface again with Just Dance 4. Why these companies cannot learn from other games such as Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 is beyond my comprehension. Luckily, interface has always been the strong point of Dance Central (DC). It remains the same as before, but just be aware that now you can swipe menus below right, below left, and sometimes top left. I've missed the top left a few times so check out your screen for that.
DC3 just made it possible for my parents (grandparents now) to enjoy it too. With the newly introduced Beginner level, you need not even rehearse it and can just jump in and copy the moves. It's really, really easy and enjoyable. Then after beginner, you have the usual easy, medium and hard. Like before, you rehearse the songs in advance (if you want) and then perform it.
Tracking feels improved to DC2. If you are solo dancing you'll notice the tracking to be nothing but awesome. It's only when you have two dancers in front of the Kinect that you'll notice at times the tracking is a bit off or it doesn't pick you up. That's tolerable, because when you have more than 1 in front of the Kinect it's more about having fun with someone else than just dancing by yourself.
The music selection is a step up for me from the previous games. They've divided them into categories of music from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and now 10s. Someone asked me why they left out the 60s, but here I can defend the decision by saying how difficult it must be to cut up songs from the earlier eras where the beat can go a bit off into dance routines for a game. This categorisation of the songs are pretty nice and when you choose a playlist you can also choose it by era, thus dancing to songs only from the 70s. My only criticism is probably the 80s, where the songs are fairly "unknown".
There are a bunch of gameplay modes. Well, all of them use the same songs from the tracklist, but they are presented in different ways. The one everyone is talking about is the Career mode. Nothing really to get excited about but it's a way of helping you cover all the songs. In the career mode the DC Team sends you back in time to the 70s to go learn their dance moves. Once you've mastered all of them, you move on to the 80s and so forth. The other modes of gameplay from DC1 and DC2 are there, like crew challenges, and it's really up to you which one you would like to choose to tackle your songs.
The two nifty gameplay features to take note of is that of Fitness and Playlists. The first tracks you calories and time spent on exercises. This time around it's displayed the entire time while you exercise. You can also set goals in the Fitness, for example: how many times you want to exercise per week and the amount of calories you want to burn. The Playlist comes with pre-selected playlists you can choose or ones you can compose yourself. When you dance, you select a playlist and all the tracks in the playlist will play one after the other. This time, DC3 has added a shuffle function to the playlists so it will shuffle the songs around for you in a selected playlist. Before I forget, you must activate the fitness selection if you want to keep track of your calories, it's not activated by default.
Again, like DC2, the voice control is awesome. This was the first feature I've activated after inserting the disc. If you've never tried it before, you should. It's especially helpful when you are dancing and you want to pause. You can just say "Xbox, Pause" and the game will pause. Or "Xbox, Slow It Down" and the move will be done in slow mode for you in rehearsal. Remember to activate this feature.
At this point my criticism would be lyrics - where are they?! There are songs I would love to sing along to while dancing, but the lyrics just aren't there. It was a feature I was looking forward to in DC2 already, and still is absent in DC3.
In a nutshell:
- no lyrics
- 80s songs are fairly "unknown"
- great tracking
- impressive voice navigation
- improved track list
- added beginner level
- different game modes
- Facebook integration
- improved leaderboards
- fitness goal setting
- playlists and create your own playlists
- interface easy to use
- will feature an app for your phone/tablet in the near future called Smartglass, through which you can cue songs in advance from your phone or tablet.
This DC3 is the ultimate dancing game on any console at the moment. Once you've had an experience like this, it just does not feel right dancing with controls in your hand like the Wii or the PS Move. I can say this, as I own all 3 consoles, and Kinect is THE dancing experience. With DC3, you have the best. If you've owned DC1 or DC2, then DC3 won't disappoint. If you've never owned a dancing game on Kinect, then this is the one.