2011-11-07

Dance Central 2 – Getting The Steps Right

by Yo Snyder

If I were the type to go out “clubbing”, and if I felt I needed a
little help to learn some moves to help me fit in better on the dance
floor (and so people won’t assume I’m having some sort of seizure when
I’m just trying to dance), then I might want to invest in Dance Central 2. I’m not saying that this game will make you the next winner of So You Think You Can Dance,
but it just might teach you a few things to help you fit in better
should you find yourself on the club scene. However, if you prefer to
stay at home and have some dancing fun, then this is definitely the game
for you.

Dance Central 2 does a fine job of improving the
things that needed improving from the last game, chief among those
being the multiplayer mode. Unlike the first game where you had to take
turns, now you and a friend can dance together. Better yet, the new
Dance Battle mode lets you compete against each other for the highest
score, but the fun part is there are sections where you can steal points
from the other player. Four moves are displayed on the screen and if
you complete that move first, you get the points. Also, there are times
where just your dancer is in the spotlight and it’s your chance to get
points without any competition (kind of like the dancing version of free
throws). It all makes for a much more engaging and fun multiplayer in a
game that was crying out for just that. The “campaign” mode is also
more interesting as you engage in Dance Crew competitions to prove which
crew has the fliest moves. Again, its engaging and fun and a nice
improvement from the last game. Other tweaks include an option to see
dance steps done in slow-motion to help you make sure you get them just
right, and of course the addition of voice controls. Again, this depends
on the volume in the room for how well it works and wear your speaker
placement is (don’t put them near the Kinect). So while the multiplayer
got the biggest overhaul, other areas got some nice little improvements
and the game overall is more streamlined.

That ability to see each
step performed slowly and precisely is a big help for someone like me.
The more complicated moves on the higher difficulties are just tough for
me to emulate without breaking down the break it down mode even
further, and I’m glad this option is there because I do want to get
those steps just right, and it’s nice that the game is willing to teach
me. This is not only needed for success in this game, but a little step
tutorial is also necessary for success in life was well. Psalm 37:23
says “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him…”
Look, not to make a big deal of it, but if you’re looking for a little
guidance and direction in life, if you want to figure out the right
steps to take towards eternal life, God is willing to show you. He’ll
break it down step-by-step so you can get it just right. You may think
that every step you take leads the same way and has the same result, but
as Dance Central 2 shows, if you want to dance the dance
correctly, there’s only one way to do that and it’s with the right steps
made at the right time.

However, there are a few issues that
still plague that have carried over from the last game, and granted
these are probably more a matter of taste than anything else, but they
do affect my opinion of the game. First comes the track selection, which
has plenty of good dance numbers and some are pretty fun, but there are
also plenty of songs I wouldn’t want my girls to hear, let alone hear
repeatedly as they learn each step to the dance. Second, some of those
songs include dance moves that I wouldn’t want my young girls to even
learn. It’s awkward enough when I have to do them (and there is a large
percentage of effeminate, “sexy” steps in this game). The other issues
are ones that plague all Kinect titles; space and lighting. To do
multiplayer you need plenty of space, and in order to do the steps and
have them register properly, you do need good lighting. While the
precision and accuracy of Kinect with Dance Central 2 is still
tops, there were some times where I’d practice a move, the game would
give me a “Nice” score for completing it, and then say I didn’t do it
properly; confusing. Still, that was a rare occurrence in a game that
does a remarkable job of tracking your movements.

Is Dance Central 2
fun? Absolutely. On your own it’s fun, but this is obviously intended
for a party atmosphere because it’s just so much more fun to dance
poorly in front of friends and to try to outscore them while you do. Can
this game teach you how to dance? Probably. It’s pretty precise and on
the higher difficulties requires some pretty specific foot movements,
often times with coordinated hand movements (and I’m anything but
coordinated, so that’s always a challenge for me). Is this game a fun
one that could teach the whole family to dance? Well, with some proper
screening, I think so. However, there are just some songs and dances
(and a few album covers) that I’d just rather my kids didn’t see. For
older gamers and adults, this game is an absolute blast, but it’s so fun
that it’s bound to attract the attention of the younger ones
(especially if they have the natural narcissistic tendencies that all
kids do; “look, the camera can see ME dancing, yeah!”).

Score out of 7:

Graphics:
6 – This is a bright, colorful, good looking game. Some of the details
are specially impressive, like the way clothing, jewelry and even air
bounces as characters move. The settings for the dances are gorgeous,
and often have a lot of activity in the background. Impressive stuff for
a “simple” dance game. I like the attention to detail.

Sound: 5 –
The characters are a little too stereo-typed at times, but I guess
that’s part of the goofy charm. The tracks are pretty decent overall,
but there are some songs that are just too suggestive for younger kids.

Controls:
6 – Dance Central continues to set the bar for precision and
responsiveness when it comes to the motion tracking of Kinect. With the
proper space and lighting, it does a really good job with only a few
kinks every now and then.

Gameplay: 5 – Better multiplayer makes
for a much better game, and an even more in-depth option for learning
complicated steps is nice. Still, there’s plenty of”sexy”dancing and
more moves that seemed to be aimed at the ladies than the guys.

Story: N/A

Content:
4 – There are some songs, moves and even album covers that are bit too
suggestive and sensuous for younger players, and probably aren’t all
that great for the rest of us. And some of the ladies outfits are less
than demure.

Final: 5 – Unlike Just Dance, Dance Central
actually cares if you get the moves right. It’s more precise, more
demanding and yet still plenty of fun. I get a greater sense of feedback
and accomplishment with Dance Central than with the loosey-goosey Just
Dance series; and that will probably be the deciding factor between the
two for most; that, and what kind of songs you want stuck in your head
after listening to them over and over again.