Plot: What’s it about?
After Harmonix was able to turn us all into rock stars with Rock Band, the studio decided to make us all champions of the dance floor with the remarkable Dance Central franchise. Dance Central 3 arrives to push your skills to the next level, but does this third installment rise above the myriad of Kinect dance games? The core mechanics remain the same as ever for Dance Central, as you mimic the dance moves on screen, then earn a score based on your performance. Seems simple enough, but of course, to master the moves you’ll need to invest some serious practice hours. This is where the rehearsal mode comes in handy, as you’re able to nail down each move, then chain them together to master the entire set list. While this is business as usual, I found the responsiveness to be better than ever, not to mention the impressive song selection. So yes, this is more of the same, but with a series as excellent as Dance Central, why complain?
Perhaps the biggest change in Dance Central 3 is the addition of a narrative driven story mode. This campaign tasks you to travel through time and use the power of dance to overcome evil. And yes, it is as hilarious and absurd as it sounds, adding a ton of replay value and overall fun to the experience. But as I said above, you’ll need to practice your moves if you want to progress in the story, as this volume includes some tough songs to master. I was thrilled to see a story mode included, as it gives some structure to an otherwise exercise and party driven game style. The story is a lot of fun to explore and I imagine similar games will attempt to include structured elements like this as well. You can also dance the night away with up to eight players this time around, so if you have a big enough dance floor, things can get wild. So at the core, Dance Central 3 retains the elements that we loved about previous volumes, but it also adds in some fresh, effective new touches.
As this is a dance game, one of the most important elements is the song list. And while previous Dance Central games have leaned on mostly current music, this installment offers a varied, fun assortment. The story mode guides you through decades of music, so the song list packs an impressive roster of iconic music. You’ll find over 40 songs included, with hits from the 70s to today, so there is going to be something for everyone in this one. The Village People, Vanilla Ice, New Kids on the Block, Kelly Clarkson, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, and numerous others populate this list. So you can dance out to some of the current hits, then party with some timeless dance classics, a nice approach to the set list. Dance Central 3 is a blast, a game you can play alone, work out to, and enjoy in crowds of all sizes, which isn’t common. So if you love to dance and have a Kinect, Dance Central 3 is a game you’ll want to add to your collection, without a doubt.
Video: How does it look?
The colorful, fresh visual design of the original returns here, but with some enhancements. The character designs sport more detailed, fluid animation, with a higher level of expression. This is especially evident on the returning characters, who look much more alive this time around. This level of subtle improvement is seen throughout the game. I am glad sweeping chances weren’t made, as the visuals of the original were excellent. So this is more of the Dance Central signature look, just polished and refined to the next level.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is a game that centers on music, of course it sounds awesome. The songs come across with potent, powerful presence that really helps you get into the groove. If the music sounded thin, it would impede the experience, so this rich, full sound really makes the entire package work. From the menus to the actual dance music, Dance Central 3 sounds awesome and never gives us any reason to complain, even a little.