Dance Central is still one of the strongest reasons why anyone would buy a Kinect. The accurate controls, amazing graphics and stellar gameplay have always been hallmarks of the series. Yesterday, during E3 2012, I was privileged to preview Dance Central 3 with two Producers of the game, a choreographer and a few other journalists. Although there were some slight hiccups in this beta pre-release version of the game, I was still quite impressed with the work that Harmonix has put it into this sequel.
Harmonix started off the demo by asking the people to divide into 2 teams of 4. And then the Kinect would take a picture of the entire team as they posed. The Kinect had a terrible time recognizing all members of each team. It would pick up 2 or 3 people and then have a hard time picking up the remaining people. With me especially, we had to restart the process about 6 or 7 times to get it to recognize me. However, the Producers said that this was because I was wearing a shiny new black shirt, and that this game is still in testing, so the final release of the game will have a much easier time with Kinect recognition. At one point, there were even jokes made that perhaps I “wasn’t a real person,” which was quite hilarious.
Harmonix has been focusing on “3 pillars” for Dance Central 3. First up, they have really been fine-tuning the choreography to teach dancing. For example, if a person would like to learn to dance before going to a wedding, Harmonix believes this game will enable you to do just that.
Closely related to the first pillar, Harmonix has been trying make the this game even more accessible. For example, Dance Central 3 will have full voice control over all menu options. In addition, there is a Party Time mode that promises to bring a DJ like experience to your living room. This will enable you to keep your parties going without any need to mess with ANY menu options, like choosing what song to play next. The “DJ” will do all the work for you, so that you and your guests can just enjoy the game without anything getting in the way of the fun.
Finally, the 3rd pillar is social interaction. They really want those in the room with you to be able to interact with each other. To that end, dynamic difficulty is standard in the game. If a less experienced person or child wants to play Dance Central 3, the game will automatically detect this and scale the difficulty up or down depending on how well they are doing.
Of course, all the tracks available in the previous two games, plus your DLC, will be available to be imported into Dance Central 3. Plus, there will be many of the same modes that have been in DC and DC2, like dance battles and regular dancing. However, there are also two new modes. The two new modes that were shown off were called Keep the Beat and Make Your Move. To start any game, as long as your playing with another person, all you need to do is high-five the other person and the game will start.
Keep the Beat is a very interesting experience. This mode allows you and the other people playing to do freeform moves. Any move you want to perform will be recognized. Whoever is doing the most unique moves at the time will have a crown placed on top of their avatar. If the second player can duplicate the other persons move and/or make their own unique move, then they can steal the crown away. Each unique dance move, plus how long each player maintains their “kingship”, is counted towards overall score.
Make Your Move also allows you to make up your own dance moves, but it is an incredibly different experience. It is easiest to compare it to playing a game of HORSE in basketball. The game will give you a category, like Goofy Dance Moves, and then task you to make up a move. Once your turn is done, the other player’s goal is duplicate your move exactly. Then, it is their turn make up a move, and so on. The really incredible feature of this mode is that Dance Central and Kinect are able to name your moves and dynamically turn them into in-game assets.
Harmonix continues to innovate in the music genre. Every time you think they have run out of ideas for music or dancing games, they manage to come up with more awesome ideas in their next game. If you liked Dance Central, or even Rock Band, chances are that you’ll enjoy Dance Central 3.