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“Song: What Is Love.” She said, speaking loud and clear for the benefit of an Xbox. I got up, to get nearer to the Kinect sensor’s built in microphone, and called out, sneering: “Difficulty: Hard.” Her expression became stone, and she turned to me but spoke again to the Xbox “Mode: Dance battle.” Her steely eyes stayed locked on mine, a sure sign that something would be ‘brought’, or perhaps ‘it’ was about to be ‘on’. She spoke to the Xbox one last time, still not breaking eye contact. “Xbox: Dance.

Dance Central 2 is a music/rhythm game, and with these games, all you really need to know is what’s different from the last one, and what songs are included. The changes are substantial though, so bare with me.

dance-central-2-screenshot-4-646x325As indicated earlier, the voice recognition works well. Occasionally it’ll pick up background chatter and come up with something completely random, and other quirks like not understanding my pronounciation of Bobby Brown’s song “My Prerogative” (nine times out of ten it would pick Mai Ah He) but the success rate makes it a worthy feature, particularly if you want to have your own cheesy moment of calling someone out for a dance battle.

Gameplay improvements are numerous, despite the basic premise of “dance like the person on the screen” remaining the same. The Break It Down mode has been revised greatly, with good reason. In contrast to DC1’s “learn it all piece by piece with no chance to speed up or go back”, DC2 allows you to pick a selection to revise from a list of moves that appear in the song, which is great for songs that contain a number of moves you’ve already learnt. When practising, you can now navigate the moves via voice recognition commands, which is a godsend, allowing you to skip forward and go back as you please. Another voice command you can use is “Record video”; which will probably make some people squeamish, but it records a video of you performing a move, and plays it next to the character, allowing you to review exactly where it’s going wrong. It’s a nice, last resort option which will finally answers the cry of “What isn’t the Kinect seeing in my moves??”

Simultaneous multiplayer is undoubtedly the biggest feature added, and it’s pretty awesome. You and your partner each take a side of the screen, and dance along. When in battle mode, a section may occasionally put all the focus on one player (rather like the original Guitar Hero versus mode), you can play cooperatively and it’s largely the same, just minus all the smack talk and the momentary focus on a single player. Freestyle sections, while as goofy as ever, can be disabled via the options menu, and are a moot point for dance battles, as in the place of freestyle sections are the new free for all sections. In these, four animated flash cards come up showing different moves, and the goal is to perform as many as you can before your opponent, the the beautifully tense moment that can determine a winner or stoke the flames of an intense rivalry.

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There’s also some semblance of a story mode this time around, as five characters from the original Dance Central and five new characters pair off amongst themselves to form dance crews. You challenge each crew for the right to represent them, or to earn their respect, or whatever it is that people dance for. This boils down to four cases of earning sixteen stars from a handful of songs, and then getting four stars on a final song before progressing.

Now, the songs:

  • Atlantic Connection And Armanni Reign – Reach
  • As made famous by Britney Spears – Toxic
  • B.o.B. feat. Bruno Mars – Nothin on You
  • Bananarama – Venus
  • Bobby Brown – My Prerogative
  • Bruno Mars – Grenade
  • Chingy – Right Thurr
  • Ciara – Goodies
  • Daddy Yankee feat. Fergie – Impacto (Remix)
  • Daft Punk – Technologic
  • Darude – Sandstorm
  • David Guetta feat. Akon – Sexy Chick
  • Digital Underground – The Humpty Dance
  • Donna Summer – Hot Stuff
  • Electric Valentine – Body To Body
  • Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull – I Like It
  • Exile – I Wish for You
  • Far East Movement feat. The Cataracs and Dev – Like a G6
  • Flo-Rida feat. David Guetta – Club Can’t Handle Me
  • Gnarls Barkley – Run (I’m A Natural Disaster)
  • Haddaway – What Is Love?
  • Justin Bieber – Somebody To Love
  • Kevin Lyttle – Turn Me On
  • Kurtis Blow – The Breaks
  • La Roux – Bulletproof
  • Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
  • Lady Gaga – Born This Way
  • Lena – Satellite
  • Little Boots – Meddle
  • Mary J. Blige – Real Love
  • Missy Elliott – Get Ur Freak On
  • Montell Jordan – This Is How We Do It
  • New Boyz – You’re A Jerk
  • Nikki Minaj feat. Sean Garrett – Massive Attack
  • O-Zone – Mai Ai Hee (Dragostea Din Tei)
  • P. Diddy feat. Keyshia Cole – Last Night
  • Remy Ma – Conceited (There’s Something About Remy)
  • Rihanna – Rude Boy
  • Sean Kingston – Fire Burning
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back
  • Tweet feat. Missy Elliot – Oops (Oh My)
  • Usher feat. Pitbull – DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love
  • Usher feat. Ludacris & Lil’ Jon – Yeah!
  • Willow Smith – Whip My Hair

Of course, being a Harmonix sequel, you can import the songs from Dance Central 1 using the code on the back of the manual and 400 Microsoft points, which will leave you with a considerable amount of dancing to do, not to mention that there’s also the DLC.

The Bottom Line

By adding simultaneous multiplayer, Dance Central 2 is the game that Dance Central 1 wanted to be. By adding voice recognition in meaningful ways (like being able to tell it to pause the game) and refining the learning features, it’s the game to capture the non-gaming, albeit girly market. 

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