Dance Central 3 ReviewBy Dana Leahy - Posted Oct 16, 2012
Refreshed and ready for round three, Dance Central is back as Kinect's number one dance franchise, and the new multiplayer improvements ensure that Dance Central 3 is the life of the party.
- Great Third Installment for New and Old Fans
- In-depth Story Mode is Corny Fun
- New Multiplayer Modes Add Replayability
- Still No Online Multiplayer
- Arguably Weaker Track List
- Not A Whole Lot of Challenge for Veteran Players
Dance Central 3 Review:
Dance Central 3 is a great continuation of the series and with Harmonix shifting the focus to the multiplayer mode, it's a better party game than ever before. Don't lose hope if you prefer to play friendless, however, as they've also added a pretty awesome single player campaign that will have you tapping your toes through the past few decades.
Me? Fight Dance Crime? OK!
The evil Dr. Tan is back, and he hates fun. Actually, that's not quite accurate, but you get the picture. I don't want to spoil anything, so just know that he's a menace that needs to be dealt with, and you're just the one to do it. At the beginning of story mode, you're introduced to a whole new crew: Dance Central Intelligence, or DCI. They're the organization who is trying stop Dr. Tan's evil army from taking over . . . the world? Everyone? Eighth Grade Sadie Hawkins Day Dances? I don't know, but he's up to something and it isn't good.
You'll see some familiar faces along the way as you play through the story. The different crews that were introduced in Dance Central 2 are back, and working with DCI. Some of the crews were trapped when they were sent back in time while trying to fight Dr. Tan, so again, you're the only one who can go back and save them using only your AMAZING dance skills.
In each decade, starting with the 1970's, you have to dance to popular songs from the era and discover hidden moves that when put together in the right sequence form a popular "Dance Craze." I don't want to give away what they are, because it is fun trying to figure them out while you're playing, but suffice it to say, Dance Central 3 is just as fun as any wedding you've ever been to.
They're Going To Shut Down The Rec Center!
While some of the dialogue will make you groan, the story mode is an improvement over what was offered up in DC 2; however, because of the emphasis on traveling through time, the track list arguably suffers from it. There are a lot of songs in the game that people under 30 will have never every heard of, and some decades are stronger than others. The 80's, for example, is perplexingly boring, and outside of story mode, you probably won't play many of those songs just for fun.
This is all subjective though, and some kids will be introduced to new music, so that's a plus. Outside of story mode, however, there are a lot of fun songs to perform and DC 3 supports importing songs from both Dance Central and Dance Central 2, meaning you'll have access to over 150 songs.
While some decades are weaker than others, it's still fun to get a feeling for the different eras and perform all the dance crazes. Giving context to a dancing game is a difficult task, but Harmonix has done it with style. Once you defeat Dr. Tan with dance, the story mode continues with a Master Quest, involving song lists for each of the crews. This offers a ton of single player content to play through, and really adds to the value of the game.
Come Let Me Take You On A Party Ride
While the single player campaign has been improved, the focus of Dance Central 3 is definitely the multiplayer improvements. The game still offers flawless jump-in/jump-out capabilities, and allows you to go straight into the new Party Time mode from the main menu.
Party mode offers four head to head competitions including Perform (just straight out two people dancing side-by-side), Battle (2 players duke it out for points), Make Your Move (one player does a move they create and the other player has to repeat the same move), Strike a Pose (two players compete to do the poses featured on the screen the best. The game speeds up as the song goes along. Actually quite challenging), and Keep the Beat (two players dance their own moves and the game analyzes how well you're keeping the beat.
I have one gripe about Party time: Harmonix has incorporated the "Free 4 All" mini-game from Dance Central 2 (where each player tries to repeat moves for bonus points) into many of the multiplayer modes. It still doesn't work very well. The way the moves are managed, you never know if you're doing the right one or if you're doing it enough, so it just ends up being an arms akimbo mess.
Despite that one minor complaint, these modes are a fun way to play with your friends, especially if you have players of different skill levels. Speaking of skill levels, there are now four difficulty modes: beginner, easy, medium, and hard. Beginner is the new mode and detects if a player is struggling and changes the moves based on how well or poorly they are doing. New players will not even notice this is happening, as it's a seamless experience designed to make them feel less embarrassed.
Keep your fork, there's more! Crew throwdown mode lets up to eight players (two teams of four compete). You rotate through the different players, so everyone gets a chance to participate. Throwdown uses the same multiplayer games from Party mode, but it puts them in a series and crowns a winning crew at the end of the game. It's a more structured, competitive environment, and offers bigger groups a great way to play together. If you have a birthday coming up, I would highly recommend it.
With all of these new features, Harmonix has also taken the time to streamline the navigation. All the menus are now collapsible, so there's not as much scrolling. Voice commands have also been improved. Using your voice is easier, and also works much better than it has in the past.
And Then The Record Scratched And We Were All Like, "What's A Record?"
Dance Central 3 offers live challenges this time around. Basically, Harmonix sets a record and you try and score a certain amount of points to beat it. You earn little trinkets this way, and it's a good way to keep the community engaged, but it's still not online multiplayer. The fact that this is the third game and they have not added online multiplayer drives me absolutely BATTY. Maybe no one else is clamoring for online play, but I am now 30 and I don't have a ton of friends who like to play Dance Central (they're all busy having kids and worrying about getting enough fiber), yet I would love the opportunity to compete with others, but alas, this is not an option. There are still passive leaderboards and the new live challenges, but I personally think the replayablity of Dance Central would skyrocket if you could compete online.
While I am talking about old issues here, I have to address once again Break It Down mode. Usher (yes, that Usher) now voices the mode, but it's still the same. While it gives you an opportunity to slow the moves down, it's still hard to tell sometimes what you're doing wrong, especially given the advanced sensitivity of Kinect. As I said in my Dance Central 2 review, it would be great to have a video of an actual person doing the moves (something that was incorporated into The Michael Jackson game from Ubisoft). I know it's a tall order, but it would really really help, especially with the more advanced moves and those players who are trying to flawlessly perform every step.
DC 3 is great, but as a veteran player, I can't help but feel a twinge of disappointment. It feels a little bit like there's a lack of innovation here. Even though the new multiplayer modes are fun, they're not overwhelmingly awesome. In fact, I find myself completely whelmed. Besides doing the standard "master these dances and own the leaderboard," there's not a lot here for hardcore players that is much different from Dance Central 2. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get it, it's just something to keep in mind going in.
Quick! Clean Up! Mom and Dad Are Home!
Despite all of that, Dance Central 3 is still masterstroke of fun, and does a good job moving the series in the right direction. It offers fresh new tracks for everyone to enjoy, and is far more accessible for everyone than ever before.
So don't just sit there! Put on your dancing shoes, grab some friends, and get this party started! And, if you're like me, alone in your love of Dance Central, then it's just the simple issue of saving the world of dance from the evil Dr. Tan. No big deal. All in a day's dance.