Dance Central 2 is an inviting dancing game, offering multiple difficulty levels and fantastic tutorials that open the experience for a wide audience. The game's expertly choreographed dances compliment its predecessor's fine offering, amidst a rather lackluster Kinect launch lineup. Dance Central 2 might not differ all that much over last year's genre-defining title, but it's still one of if not the best music game of 2011.
What Dance Central 2 Got Right
Inviting tutorials - Dance Central 2 is not an easy game by any means, and is certainly molded around an experience suited to experienced dances. However, the game's tutorials do a fantastic job of introducing the more complex moves to a wider audience, allowing the game to be considerably more accessible than it seems. The great thing here is that it's complex enough for the experienced, but detailed enough for newcomers, making it a fantastic family and/or party title leading into the holiday season.
Great competitive edge - The new Crew Challenge mode introduces a story to Dance Central 2, having you work up the ranks in a career mode molded around a silly, but fitting, narrative. You can also blast through this mode with a friend, adding an extra sense of competitive to an already highly challenging mode. The game's in-game characters will rate and judge you accordingly, and while the game isn't especially forgiving, it's not so punishing as to completely turn you off from wanting to progress. Your friends can jump in at any time, with Kinect recognising them almost immediately, while the Free-4-All minigames make for quick fun in a race to complete the on-screen moves.
Diverse range of music - Dance Central 2's fantastic sense of competitiveness and highly skilled choreography are further complimented by an incredibly solid track listing. You'll be able to dance your way through over 40 tracks, from Lady Gaga to Rihanna and Sir Mixalot. There's also the possibly of downloadable content, as well as the ability to import songs purchased for the first game. You'll need to spend some Microsoft Points to import Dance Central's original tracks, but it's a small price to pay to expand an already great selection of music.
Accessible but challenging dance moves - Most impressive in Dance Central 2 is the sheer about of dance moves on offer. This game is expertly choreographed, superbly so, offering a surprisingly deep range of moves, even more so than the game's predecessor. The moves are ultra realistic and quite clearly inspired by contemporary dance, meaning you certainly won't feel like a dill dancing along to some recent chart toppers in your living room. The game offers a deep level of difficulty, and the jump from Easy to Hard is intense but insanely satisfying. The game is a slow progression, ultimately pushing you to improve and be good enough to complete all tracks on the highest difficulty.
What Dance Central Got Wrong
Lacking online functionality - The game offers a fantastic range of downloadable content, and leaderboards are cool, but they certainly seem like an outdated method of multiplayer competitiveness in this day and age. They don't really do enough to fuel competition, and the potential for competitions and the like over Xbox Live may have been enough to put Kinect back on the map over Christmas. It doesn't dilute the worth of the experience that much, but it certainly feels like a missed opportunity, not unlike that of the first game.
The Final Verdict
Dance Central 2 is a music game for both the experienced dancer and the curious gamer. It offers an incredibly deep collection of moves alongside a fantastic range of music, with the possibility of downloadable content and imports from the first game adding extra value. If you're looking to buy one Kinect game over Christmas, Dance Central 2 is the one for you.
By Gaetano Prestia