Dance Central 2 E3 2011 Hands-On Preview -- This Virtual Dance Floor is Big Enough for the Both of UsBy Dana Vinson - Posted Jun 22, 2011
Are you ready to lace up your shoes and dance your ass off? I AM! Harmonix showed off Dance Central 2 for the first time at E3 2011 and as someone who adored the original, I was extremely excited to take the sequel for a test drive, er, test dance.
Dance Central was probably the most exciting Kinect launch title; however, as fun as it was, the game had its flaws, most notably the lack of simultaneous multiplayer dancing, a bare-bones Break It Down Mode, and no campaign. (You can read a detailed account of my thoughts on the game in my Dance Central review.) These gripes were small and in no way made the game less fun, they just held it back from being perfect.
Harmonix has done a lot to polish the gameplay this time around, and their efforts seem to be pushing the game more towards that mark of perfection. For starters, two players will be able to dance and compete simultaneously. Before, you could have more than one person dancing, but the game would only score one player. In order to go head-to-head, you had to do a Dance Battle, which involved switching off with the other dancer. Now, both dancers will be able to dance at the same time, with the game scoring them at the same time.
Each player will be able to select their own level of difficulty, which means everyone can compete with everyone else without having to worry that a routine will be over someone's head. Also, in Dance Central, when a player was on a flawless streak, the venue would transform from regular old exotic dance-off locale to awesome neon disco exotic dance-off locale. In the two-player mode featured in Dance Central 2, each player will have their own performance meter called the Personal Peak Multiplier. It is only when both players have reached their Personal Peaks that the venue will transform.
In addition to the new Personal Peak feature, DC2 features golden flashcards. When you execute the moves on these gold cards perfectly, it's worth double points. Also, to alleviate some of the embarrassment that you might feel while dancing--either alone, or in front of a crowd--DC2 allows you to turn off the Freestyle bit during a song. To refresh your memory, Freestyle was that part in the song when you were allowed to do anything you wanted while the game captured video. The DC crowd seems to be sort of split on this feature: some players really love it, because they can actually dance, and some players (like myself) hate it, because we just end up running around in a circle for lack of something to do. I, for one, will welcome a new Freestyle-less Dance Central, but ultimately, it will be up to each player whether or not they want to leave on that feature.
The in-game menus have also been streamlined for ease of use. They weren't clunky to begin with, but a few features have been added to make them better than ever. For instance, in the song selection menu, you can hold your hand over a particular song to see a snippet of the choreography. Leaderboards, which were buried in the first game, play a more prominent role in Dance Central 2. Your scores will be integrated right on the song select screen, and the game will also feature pop-up messaging about leaderboard status, ala DJ Hero 2. Now, more than ever, you will get to lord over your friends with the awesome power of dance.
While the demo was limited to just a few songs, there were glimpses of a campaign mode scattered throughout the songs. It looked as though some of the characters were dressed alike. Perhaps, we will see some turf battles with different dance crews. It'll be interesting to see what Harmonix does with that campaign mode, as it will be completely new to Dance Central 2.
The one thing Dance Central 2 doesn't do, and no DC game will ever do, is help you get over the fear of flailing around with reckless abandon. Sounds like a YP, not a MP. I'll be anxiously awaiting a new round of songs and exciting features while you work that out, wallflower.