This year's E3 has been home to a number of exciting announcements but none more exciting for me personally than Dance Central 3. I had my doubts they'd make a third, as I wondered where the series could truly "go" after the near-perfect Dance Central 2.
In a sea of yearly dance game releases, how will yet another stack up? Through some E3 magic (read: my hounding of Hamza and Steven to give me the assignment instead) I got my chance to check it out.
One thing I appreciate about the continued improvements to this series is that Harmonix seems focused on creating a game that isn't limited to just mimicking the moves on the screen; they actively encourage you to take initiative and dance outside the box.
It's equally a game for those who dance already, and those who just dance when nobody's watching. In that department, this threequel does not disappoint. The new modes very specifically place emphasis on edging the game and its players even closer to "real" dancing.
In order to expand the DC universe beyond a virtual miming experience, Harmonix is bringing a story mode into the mix. Yes, a story mode. The new dance routines and moves reflect a range of tunes from the '70s to '00s, and a time-traveling machine will be key to transitioning between these different eras in music. They're also bringing another series first in the form of a mini-game, called Keep the Beat, where players go head to head making up their own moves to the rhythm of the music.
Make Your Own Move works exactly how it sounds: you create your own move and, when performed in time to the beat, a flashcard and move name will be created and stored. In Crew Throwdown, you'll get a chance to combine many of these aspects, as your take on a rival duo with dance battles, Keep the Beat, and Make Your Own Move for a final top score. Each battle begins with a healthy high five, P-body and Atlus style. Up to four crews of two can go head to head.
There's not a lot of word yet on which crews will be returning, though I did see the High Def crew, and the new DCI crew. Riptide Crew, Lu$H Crew, and Taye from Flash Forward Crew will also be there. Personally, I think this new DCI crew is just the Ninja Crew unmasked, but for now Harmonix is remaining shushed on more details regarding this dancing duo.
Earlier we reported that Usher worked closely with Harmonix to bring choreography from his videos and performances to Dance Central 3, and upon playing "OMG ft. Will.i.am," I can confidentially say it has upped the ante. Seasoned players like myself will find there's still a challenge, even for Hard songs played on Easy mode. And speaking of modes, another has been added to the difficulty settings: Very Easy. I wasn't able to play it, but given how simple the Easy songs are on Easy, I can only imagine it consists of shuffling from side to side.
It will be interesting to see how these new features develop and how they affect the bottom line. With Dance Central 2, Harmonix had a lot of room to evolve, given the simplicity of the original. Dance Central 3 brings on a lot of features that, while not demanded by the DC community, could positively affect its replay value. At the same time, I've yet to see a feature that would strongly compel me to recommend it over Dance Central 2. As they remain mum on some other changes to come, I would keep an eye on this one; they may come up with another hook just yet.