The Kinect has managed to steal a good deal of the motion gaming spotlight, but the types of games most popular with the console unit remain the same—largely sports or dance titles. Dance Central 2 is no exception, and while it’s not revolutionizing how you use the Kinect, it has the same catchy pop songs and outlandish avatars as the original.
Getting through user setup to actually dancing is quick and simple, and players have the option to “break it down” (translation: Learn the dance move by move before attempting it), team up, or battle one another. The game allows for two person multiplayer, but be forewarned you will need more space than you may originally think, and it can get a little crowded.
There are still some Kinect kinks to be dealt with, and going controller-free always takes some getting used to. If you aren’t all that familiar, expect to spend some time swiping your arm out in front of you like an idiot while the screen blankly looks back. Hint: Don’t move your body—just your arm. And as foolish as it sounds and you’ll look, a little wrist flourish goes a long way.
Gameplay itself is fun and the easy mode is simple enough to get in step with quickly. That said, don’t expect to be rocking the most challenging songs on the hardest level right away–which is a good thing, because it means the game is worth the money and will keep your interest for more than a week.
Dancing games can be hard to improve upon besides the obvious music and choreography updates. But in addition to those, Dance Central adds some new functions that up the ante. Voice Command is now available with Dance Central 2, and the Kinect will occasionally prompt you to use the function (you can turn it off entirely if you want, but it is a fun feature). Users can now jump into action mid-dance, as well. My favorite update though is the ability to turn off freestyle mode, that horrible segment of the game where the Kinect camera turns on you and records your self-created moves, just to humiliate you by playing them back. Game settings now include the option to skip that entirely.
Dance Central 2 adds 40+ new songs into the mix, a godsend for fans of the original who have burned out on its catalog. The music is to be expected: Popular club tunes and generally PG-13 hip-hop. Most of the collection is among today’s top 40 hits (think Lady Gaga and Rihanna), but there are a few notable throwbacks that deserve a mentions, such as Bobby Brown’s My Prerogative and Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back. Compared to the rest of the library, these are classics. All 32 of the tracks from the original game can also be purchased for $4.99.
If you were a fan of the original or dancing games at all, Dance Central 2 is easily one of your best options—probably the best option—out there. And there are enough new features in the sequel to justify buying it: A bevy of new songs, voice command, mid-dance multiplayer and the option to kiss freestyle play good bye.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 on a copy provided by Harmonix)