The short review: Dance Central 2 is very similar to its predecessor, but it now comes with a proper two-player mode, an improved Break it Down mode, and lots of other small improvements. If you enjoyed the first game, you will certainly enjoy this one.
Still here? Oh. Well, I had better use some more words, then… [*shakes fist* - Ed.]
Dance Central was definitely my favourite Kinect launch title. Technically, it harnessed the power of the wonder camera as competently as Microsoft’s own internal titles, with the added advantage of not being a series of mini-games.
The user interface was also completely different — and in my opinion, much better — than every other Kinect game out there. Basically, Dance Central was a fairly bare-bones yet satisfying dance game that could accurately detect your own moves better than anything else out there.
Fast forward to the present, and the sequel has landed in a sub-genre now stuffed rather full with other wannabe dance games. In fact, I reviewed the Kinect version of Just Dance 3 just the other week. So how does Dance Central 2 stack up?
For starters, it’s still got the best posture recognition tech in the genre. Assuming the Kinect camera can see you fine, you’ll always be aware of whether your left arm, right foot, or entire body is in the right or wrong place for each dance move. It’s a lot more detailed and assured than any other similar game, and this undoubtedly enhances the gameplay.
Mind you, it was also pretty good in the original. But this time, two players can dance alongside one another, which automatically makes DC2 a much more fun party game. Of course, this feature is made less exciting by being offered in almost every other dance game around - Just Dance 3 even supports four players at once, although your living room might not. Regardless, it’s a welcome addition, and adds a lot to the longevity of the title.
The Break it Down mode, wherein you learn what each move actually is, has been much improved and streamlined. You can now more easily skip sections of each tutorial, skip to certain moves, and so on. Mind you, you can also just dive in to the actual song on Easy until you learn the ropes, but this mode remains a good way of perfecting your skills. You can also enter a workout mode, which is surprisingly effective — I recommend it if you’re looking for something that’s a step above your usual exercise videos.
Your mileage (and taste) will vary, but I found the tracklist to be a bit disappointing compared to the original game — and, indeed, to the flat-out crazy songs included in Just Dance 3. There are a few highlights, but also a wider sea of average songs — not terrible, just slightly forgettable. But then, I’m old, and all this new music that the kids are listening to these days probably isn’t meant for my ears. Thankfully, you can import your Dance Central 1 tracks over into the sequel for a nominal licensing fee, which really helps pad out the setlist.
So there you have it: as far as sequels go, this is a refinement, an incremental update that adds a couple of welcome new features, a tighter experience, and more all-round polish. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you won’t be disappointed. I just wish my non-dancing flatmates hadn’t recorded so much footage of us flatmates who were dancing…