Review

Dance Central 2 Review (Xbox360)

You'll never see me dancing in the living room, that'll never catch on. Except you will, and it has. Dance Central has perhaps remained the most enticing reason to get the Kinect sensor fired up over the past year, so a re-jigged sequel is more than welcome. Harmonix managed to establish a thumping good time with their first effort, and a few smart changes will have your body-popping harder than ever.

If you spent time with last year's title, everything here will be immediately familiar. A neon tint flows throughout the game, with vibrant pinks reminding men they should probably be playing COD instead. As usual, selections can be made via swiping hand gestures or with the controller, but neatly, voice function has now been added. Although not essential, this kind of control naturally fits into the Kinect set-up, and it's helpful when you don't want to keep leaning back and forth for the pad.

Expect huge scores if you can string successive moves together

For a game that invites a carnival atmosphere, it's exciting that two players can now strut their stuff at the same time. This is the most significant addition, as playing alongside a friend is far more entertaining than standing at the side and watching. No longer do you need to hop in at chosen intervals, as for those who have a large enough room, there's plenty of light-hearted fun to be had. At the end of each song your score is added to your partner's, providing a final grade in the 5-star system. Letting down the partnership? As Cher Lloyd so intelligently said, “step your game up, step your, step your game up”, as any shortcomings are there for everyone to see. Of course, multiplayer can also be competitive, as any of the 40+ tracks on offer can be played in a battle scenario.

Other than this, minor changes make this a better experience than before. The Break It Down section is easier to use, allowing you to pick and choose which specific moves you want to practice. The ability to record your moves and then compare then to the trainer is perfect for those who take their dancing seriously, as this title has always tried to work you harder than its competitors. Plenty of egotistic characters have been added, providing you with greater choice over who represents you on screen. They're all finely chiselled and massively annoying, but in some ways, it suits the game's supremely confident swagger.

Cheekily, if you want to import songs from the original game across, you'll have to pay 400 MSP and have the code from Dance Central's manual ready. It's disappointing that Harmonix have decided to charge for the old content, especially if you already own it. I was relieved they let me keep the DLC from the first game for free, as it appears in the track list from the get-go if it's still on your hard-drive. The track list for this sequel has been hand-picked, and there's some great routines to learn. Artists such as Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Usher, Nicki Minaj and Daft Punk have been included for a pop-flavoured vibe. Montell Jordan's classic “This Is How We Do It” is even there for those who fancy dancing so crazily it appears all their clothes are oversized and hanging off their buttocks.

Graphics are colourful, full of life, and as cheesy as ever

If there's one thing missing here, it's the lack of online presence within the game. Harmonix are clearly biding their time, fine-tuning the most important aspects before letting players do battle across the globe. I'd be surprised if this didn't make an appearance in the next instalment, as for now, any challenges you accept will be coming from within your own household. Still, something to look forward to across the next year.

It's testimony to Harmonix that the Dance Central series has become an essential purchase for Kinect owners. Having two players in front of the screen is tremendous fun, and adds to the game's appeal massively, it's just a shame there's no online play as of yet. Ultimately, the fine-tuning has improved an already solid formula. There aren't many games that can get me whipping my hair to the beat of an awful Willow Smith song, but this accomplished it many times. Hell, I perfected that 9 year old's dance. If that's not worth your time, I don't know what is.

Top Gaming Moment: Two players dancing at the same time is a massive plus.

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