Holiday Ideas
Dance Central 3

By Jorge Figueiredo - December 16th, 2012

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Do you find yourself longing to learn the various moves used in dance crazes of the past? Well look no further: Harmonix has you covered with Dance Central 3. The latest title in the popular dance series has been on the shelves for a little while now; but with holiday parties coming up, keeping this Kinect title in your play list might be a good step toward navigating through celebratory feasts and keeping a smile on your face.

The main campaign is like something out of a campy B movie: the evil Doctor Tan is taking over various parts of the city with his army of dancing soldiers. Each area is based on an era of music; your job, as an agent of Dance Central Intelligence*, is to use the DCI time machine to time-jump to the various eras and learn the most popular dances. Other agents have been sent back to these various time periods to help you learn the moves**; once this is done you will be well-equipped to take on the villain and emerge victorious, restoring the dance balance of power and earning the respect of your fellow agents. A cheesy story? Yes! However, cheese can be delicious when used properly, and this fromage is melted all over a solid amount of content. You will dance through every track in the game and learn a hell of a lot of dance moves.

The concept behind Dance Central 3 is the same as that behind the previous titles: follow your on-screen counterparts as best you can to score big points. Aside from the animated dancers on the screen, there are move guides that indicate the current move as well as upcoming ones. On-screen feedback indicates where you are doing well and where you are not. Of all the dance titles, the Dance Central games have always been the most “technical”, sporting names for practically every single move; plus the feedback mechanism I mentioned actually shows you which limbs are in line and which are not (offending body parts are highlighted in red on screen). The result of this level of detail is what I would like to call “intensely serious fun” – and it works your mind as well as your body.

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It’s good to see Benjamin Bratt can still find work.

The game can be pretty challenging when you turn the difficulty up – so you had best bring your A-game. For every simple move, there are a few complicated ones; luckily, the game developers don’t toss you to the wolves, and they give you a few ways to ensure that you keep up with the action. For one thing, a new Beginner mode has been added to this iteration for the timid, allowing you to find your feet before you lose your heart to the rhythm. Also, the ability to rehearse moves makes a triumphant return complete with live Kinect footage for feedback – so you can practice in secret before your friends come over and make yourself look like a dancing machine***.

It is highly likely that this game will find party-usage in your house – and that’s where the game really shines. You can turn on Party Time mode and allow the game to run in the background of your party. The game makes its way through the songs and shuffles through different game-types, which really makes this a game that will appeal to a wide audience. People can hop in and hop out whenever they feel like it, which is a great way to break the ice. You can dance apart, or dance-battle; you can freestyle to the beat and the game can judge who is better at keeping the rhythm; you can participate in a “pose off” (Strike a Pose), which has you mimicking your on-screen model to perform a variety of poses in a fixed amount of time; or you can engage in Make Your Move, which has you creating dance moves (with some guidance from the game) for your opponent to follow. There is even a Crew Throwdown mode, which pits two teams of up to four dancers against each other in a number of rounds leading up to a final showdown!

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No cardboard was harmed in the making of this game.

Visuals are pretty neat. While they are not photo-realistic by any stretch of the imagination, the backdrops are colorful and full of motion and the characters are very well animated, bringing a certain hypnotic flow to the game that beckons you and your feet to get off the couch. Audio is awesome, with great-sounding mixes for the songs and solid voice work. If you have a decent home theatre system, this game will definitely sound great.

Dance Central 3 steps up and beyond its predecessors with some new modes, even more dance moves, and some great new songs. For those who are feeling nostalgic, you can import songs from previous Dance Central titles for 400 MS Points per disc. That being said, with the 45 songs available from the get-go, you won’t have to worry about new tunes for at least a little while****. Whether playing alone or with friends, you’ll definitely have a lot of fun; and hey – you might actually become a better dancer for it!

* – Don’t even ask – I have no idea.
** – Why they don’t save the city is beyond me.
*** – Or prove that you have too much time on your hands to practice every song at half-speed to ace the ratings.
**** – Although, I understand that Gangnam Style is available right now.

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