June 9, 2011 at 2:30 AM ET
If you own a Kinect and an Xbox 360 and you’re old enough to drink, then you know this: the very best way to enjoy Microsoft’s new motion controller is by popping “Dance Central” into your console during a party, tossing back a few drinks and cranking up the volume.
“Dance Central” has been the hands-down favorite of the first wave of Kinect games. With the Kinect camera reading your body movements, the game challenges you to break out your inner dancing king or queen and try to perform the dance moves you see on the screen. It also challenges you to pit your rhythmic abilities against those of your friends.
It is certainly a fantastic party game – especially when you hand out glasses of wine (or, say, shots of tequila) to encourage the wall flowers to bust a move. But the next installment in the series – “Dance Central 2” – looks to be an even better offering, especially if you have a social gathering you’d like to pump some life into.
"Dance Central" doesn’t launch until fall, but I had a chance to try it out at the Electronic Entertainment Expo taking place in Los Angeles this week. Matt Boch, a senior designer from Harmonix, was on hand to show off the game and walk/dance me through the improvements they’ve made to it. And the biggest, most obvious and most excellent improvement they’ve made is adding two-player simultaneous dance battles.
If you’ve played “Dance Central 1” you know that when you jump into the Dance Battle mode against a friend, you have to take turns in front of the TV screen, allowing Kinect to read how well you each perform your moves one at a time.
But with “Dance Central 2,” two players can dance to the same song at the same time. And even if one player is dancing at the start of a song, a second player can hop in mid-song and join the fun. And from what I saw during the demo, Kinect had no problem tracking both me and the second dancer. Meanwhile, the game offered some beefed up feedback to let me know just how well I was performing compared to my competition. Let's just say ... I could use some practice.
Speaking of which: Changes have also been made to the Break It Down mode which teaches players how to perform each of the dance moves they’ll be faced with during a song. “Dance Central 2” will do a better job allowing you to focus on the particular moves that are giving you the most trouble, Boch explained.
Also in “Dance Central 2,” you’ll be able to completely turn off the Freestyle segments. Freestyle is that portion of each song in which you’re encouraged to perform your own boogie moves – no matter how wacky or humiliating – while Kinect takes pictures of you. I don’t know how “Dance Central” plays out at your house parties, but in my home Freestyle is where all the best laughs are to be had. So why anyone would ever want to turn this feature off is beyond me.
Boch said the new game will ship with 40 songs and will allow us to import any original “Dance Central” songs into the game. He also said Harmonix is working on a new feature for the game that they will reveal soon … but it’s still all very hush-hush.
Certainly “Dance Central 2” looks like it will be largely the “Dance Central” we already know and love, but with some nice polish, additional songs and, of course, the excellent addition of simultaneous multiplayer. You will dance. You will sweat. You will laugh at yourself, your friends and your sorry dance skillz. So overall, I say cheers to what I’ve seen so far.
For more E3 coverage, see: