"Travel Back in Time to Do the Dougie"
It's hard to believe that Microsoft and Harmonix have done it again, but the two have managed to reinvent the Dance Central series subtly over 3 iterations. Kinect's killer app has returned, and pretty much the only thing that's the same is the routines and set list if you've imported music and DLC from the previous games.
Dance Central 3 can be best described as a hip version "Simon Says". Players choose a character and follow the moves shown on screen that create a routine for each song. Upon first playing a song, you will feel silly while you stumble around trying to figure out each move, but upon repeat plays, the routines become fluid as you learn to keep the beat while doing the moves.
Taking a cue from music games in the 90s, Dance Central 3 has a wacky story that involves time travel. Story mode introduces us to the DCI (Dance Central Intelligence), a top secret government agency that hires the crews from the previous games to travel back in time and prevent the sinister series villain, Dr. Tan, from committing dance crimes.
Dance Central 3's story mode takes songs from the set list and arranges them by decade, from 70s to the present day. Progressing through decades is determined by unlocking and performing a decade's craze song, which is discovered by perfecting special moves that appear throughout the songs within that decade. Discovering the dance steps that create a craze song's signature move (The Hustle is the 70s craze for instance), is different and it almost feels as if you are in a real club, because if you miss the step you have to start the song over until you figure it out and get to the point where the step appears again, just like you would in real life. The mechanic actually works pretty well and really encourages the player to pay attention to the character doing the move and nailing it down.
The multiplayer modes in Dance Central 3 have been expanded, with plenty of options to get a party started. The game offers an option directly from the title screen to start an endless playlist from all of the songs available, which removes all of the set up involved with introducing new players to the game during an event. For those who are more familiar with the series, the standard battle modes are available, with options to have both players dance at the same time or take turns if there isn't enough space available. The biggest additions are the new modes that put players in teams and have them face off against one another. These modes let players create their own moves and challenge other players to repeat them, H.O.R.S.E style, challenging players to constantly perform unique movements on beat to, or even randomly dropping them in the standard game mode at the highest difficulty of a random song.
The graphics have been toned down a bit effects-wise, with the only caveat being that the backgrounds aren't as imaginative as the previous games, but the blur from the previous game has disappeared. The characters in Dance Central 3 have more effort put into them than ever before, with multiple costumes available and subtle differences between each one when performing a routine seeming more pronounced. The song list has stretched itself a bit to accommodate more poppy songs (think Kelly Clarkson), although there are plenty of hip-hop and dance oriented songs here, and the craze songs are sure to make you groan in a good way.
With the aforementioned modes, in addition to a flexible fitness mode and an unlock system that lets players unlock everything with enough effort, Dance Central 3 is another knockout title in the series that is one of the best experiences available on Kinect.
GameDynamo's Score for Dance Central 3 (X360)
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