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Critical Reception: Harmonix's Dance Central 3

This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Harmonix's Kinect-powered rhythm game Dance Central 3, which one reviewer describes as "the best experience I have ever had with Kinect."

Danny Cowan

October 17, 2012

5 Min Read

This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Harmonix's Kinect-powered rhythm game Dance Central 3, which one reviewer describes as "the best experience I have ever had with Kinect." Dance Central 3 currently earns a score of 88 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Polygon's Griffin McElroy rates Dance Central 3 at 9.5 out of 10. "Dance Central 3 represents the most profound understanding of what the Kinect is capable of to date," he praises. "It's also the best sequel Harmonix has ever put together." "So much of the attention that's been paid to Dance Central 3 has been placed on its campaign, which exchanges the Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo-esque crew battles of past games for a whimsical tale of time travel," he continues. "You, an agent of Dance Central Intelligence, are tasked with leaping through the past in search of dance crazes with which the nefarious Dr. Tan is committing 'dance crimes' in the present. (Or something.)" A new option that allows players to create their own dances is what truly defines the sequel, however. "This option comes in the form of two mini-games, the first of which is aptly titled 'Make Your Move.'" McElroy notes. "After creating a move, your opponent has to attempt to perform it, and then they make their own. After four moves have been created, they're arranged into a routine for whichever song you picked before starting the match." McElroy is particularly impressed with the new "Keep the Beat" competitive mode, which he calls "an absolute revelation." "It's a simple mechanic that achieves brilliance with its only other rule: If you can copy whatever freestyle moves your opponent is throwing down, you'll steal their combo, and knock them out of the zone," McElroy writes. "You're still trying to dance to the rhythm as you monitor your foe. If they start to cop your style, you'll throw in impromptu, erratic (but still rhythmic) flourishes to throw them off. It's a hilarious, ecstatic piece of folk gaming, engineered perfectly into the very fabric of the Dance Central experience." Kyle Hilliard at Game Informer scores Dance Central 3 at 8.75 out of 10. "Dance Central is one of the few series in the Kinect's line-up that fosters excitement for what the motion-sensing device has to offer," he begins. "Even with its success, Harmonix makes sure that the formula doesn't wear thin. Dance Central 3 is more than just new songs and new dances; it's easily the best entry yet." The time-traveling storyline allows the game to feature a variety of dance styles. "The conceit of the story has you collecting assorted dance crazes of past eras," Hilliard explains. "You learn to do the Electric Slide, dance The Hustle, and master The Macarena. Even non-dancers like myself are familiar with most of the crazes, and I couldn't help but get excited when it came time to learn dances I had heard of." The soundtrack also gets a boost, in terms of variety. "Dance Central 1 and 2 stuck mostly with modern dance anthems peppering in only a few classics," Hilliard recalls. "In Dance Central 3 you dance to ‘70s hits like Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive' and The Trammps' 'Disco Inferno'. "Some of the best stuff comes from the ‘90s. I enjoyed embarrassing myself with Vanilla Ice's “Ice Ice Baby” and New Kids on the Block's “You Got It (The Right Stuff).” The modern stuff has not been neglected and makes a worthwhile appearance. Artists like 50 Cent, Nicki Minaj, and Katy Perry all make appearances, and if you want more songs you can always hit up the ever-expanding DLC (or bring tracks over from Dance Central 1 and 2 for a small fee)." "In normal situations, I don't dance," Hilliard admits. "With Dance Central, I don't mind jumping right up and waving my arms and legs around like I know what I am doing. I have always enjoyed Harmonix's dancing franchise, and Dance Central 3 is the best experience I have ever had with Kinect." Joystiq's Garrett Martin gives Dance Central 3 4 out of 5 stars. "You can argue that it's grown a bit repetitive by this third installment, but repetition is the key to pop music," he argues. "Can you attack a game for reflecting pop music when that's the very bedrock upon which it is built?" The franchise's mechanics remain much the same for the third installment. "The motion tracking itself seems no more or less precise than in the past," Martin observes. "It still isn't flawless, and the feedback could be clearer (misplaced limbs are outlined in red on-screen, but the game still never breaks down specifically what you've done wrong), but the detection largely works to an uncommonly satisfying degree." "The most notable addition is probably the Crew Throwdown multiplayer mode," Martin continues. "This head-to-head dance-off splits two to eight players into two crews who then dance through six rounds and a final showdown. It's a good way to experience almost everything the game has to offer, as each round consists of a different minigame, including pose-offs, a game where you have to chain together a variety of moves before your opponent can, and the new Make a Move mode." "The enhanced co-op and head-to-head modes offer new incentives to the socially minded, but Dance Central 3 rocks to the same beat as the first two," Martin concludes. "It's hard to see how Harmonix can continue to update this series every year without it quickly growing stagnant. Crew Throwdown and the party mode are nice touches for people who have the necessary floor space for a party, but neither is a revolutionary new feature. You can't fault pop music for repetition, but if you keep remaking the same hit people will eventually get tired of it."

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About the Author(s)

Danny Cowan


Danny Cowan is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for Gamasutra and its subsites. Previously, he has written reviews and feature articles for gaming publications including 1UP.com, GamePro, and Hardcore Gamer Magazine.

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