Dance Central 3 – Review

Platform | Release Date
360 | October 16, 2012
Developed by Harmonix Music Systems
Published by Harmonix Music Systems

The Pitch:

The #1 selling dance franchise for Kinect is back! With Dance Central 3, you’ll travel back through time to learn the best dance crazes from across the ages, including disco moves of the 70’s, hip-hop moves from the 80s and the hottest moves on the dance floor today – all set to an electrifying soundtrack of 45 chart-topping dance hits. More friends can get in on the fun than ever before with a new multiplayer party mode for up to 8 players – jump right into the game and get everyone dancing! Hot new moves, today’s top songs, and more ways to play– this fall own the dance floor with Dance Central 3, only on Kinect for Xbox 360.

Is it time to upgrade to Dance Central 3?

Your reaction to this statement is a good indicator of whether or not you should buy Dance Central 3. What’s here is in top form, but isn’t perfect or revolutionary. If you wanted to dip your toe into Kinect Dancing, you could save a few bucks and pick up Dance Central 2. However, Dance Central is more like a piece of software than a specific game; this is just version 3.0. DC3 supports importing your songs from DC1 and DC2, while it also has all of the features found in the previous titles. Side-by-side dancing and a co-op campaign return, as does the best Kinect menu control and voice controls. If you want to jump in but somehow haven’t yet, Dance Central 3 is where I’d recommend to start.

Most people buy the newest version of software available when jumping in, but does DC3 offer enough to upgrade from version 2.0?

A tepid “yes”. If you are currently locked in an eternal struggle between your wallet and your will, you can pick up Dance Central 3. It’s a solid title and more of what you like. However, there is not a ton of new gameplay content or interface improvements. In-game story cinematics do not sell me on a sequel, despite the new and involved time traveling storyline — and I’m a fan of time travel storylines (Legacy of Kain, where are you?).

It is, however, an excuse to time travel back and dance to YMCA, Ice Ice Baby, and New Kids on the Block, along with some catchy, modern pop songs. The song selection, overall, is very strong, and this is what provides a feeling of *more* content to the game. Simply, there is a ton of recognizable stuff here and only a couple I could not immediately keep a beat with. Maybe it is that my natural talent has improved over the course of three games, or maybe they made this one a little easier on low difficulties, but I only had trouble on a couple of specific moves. Nothing a little time in the excellent Training mode couldn’t fix. Usher himself told me I couldn’t do better as he led me in Training.

Despite my Pro-Tip last time (link to Dance Central 2 review here), I forgot to enable Fitness mode immediately, which you should do as it will count calories across all modes and even tie into the overall Xbox Fitness Center.

Besides Story and Fitness, there are several other new modes. I like the pick up an play offered by Start The Party mode, which allows for very quick jump in and out gameplay. Unfortunately, this mode contradicts my earlier statement: the Kinect recognizes me, but for some reason disregards or disables my Fitness tracking. It’s a useful addition for parties, but for any serious competition you will need to use the traditional Dance menu for stat tracking. The new Crew Throwdown mode is quite fun and the organization required falls somewhere between the jump-in freeform of Start The Party and the use of gamer profiles and face recognition in the other Dance modes. You snap a quick picture of your crew using the Kinect, with each person also getting an automatic mug shot. These are then used to represent the 2 crews (of 1-4 people each) as the game organizes a series of Face-Offs.

While I do think it is worth upgrading to DC3, there is one previously positive aspect to the process that is beginning to bother me. Importing isn’t free, and is adding up over multiple titles. I’ve spent at least $60 bucks on just bringing Harmonix songs from past titles I bought into new titles I bought. While I don’t see the charge going away, I do grow weary of it’s cumulative effect. What began as an added incentive to keep me in the ecosystem is becoming a burden, as I feel compelled to bring my songs forward despite this rising, accruing cost. I’d prefer an Online Pass approach at this point before I hit $100 in transfer fees.

I’m also disappointed with the newest tech feature: Xbox SmartGlass support. DC3′s implementation is serviceable, but I had difficulty getting my phone or iPad to reliably connect to the Xbox at all, rendering the feature to “quickly pick the next song” useless. Otherwise, it allows users to switch playlists, set Fitness goals, and a couple of other minor features. It’s a great idea to provide developers with a universal set of tools to allow them to have an “app” on any smart device that can run the official Xbox app, but these features could have been delivered better and faster by a dedicated app which ‘pushed’ this info to the game. The “second screen” technology, when it works, adds little to nothing. SmartGlass isn’t ready and doesn’t offer any great benefits to Dance Central 3.

You’ll just have to use the controller, your hands, or your voice, to navigate the myriad of songs available on the Dance Central platform. Dance Central 3 offers an extensive and high-quality package to shake your booty in front of your Kinect. And, unless you are a soulless hipster, the recent release of the new Gangnam Style DLC is definitely worth $3.

About Aaron Phokal

Aaron is a staff writer for Splitkick.
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