They say gaming is one of the most exciting forms of escapism there can be. While some might be addicted to hardcore gaming to get away from their mundane lives, some other, like yours truly, would turn to it to make up for what they miss in real life. The slow death of what used to be a rather happening social life, convinced me to try out the newly launched Dance Central 3. I shook the dust off my dancing shoes and got ready to bust a move or two with the newly launched Kinect-based game.

Before I talk about the game, I would want to establish that this is not a game for those who do not like getting groovy! I mean, if you are the kinds who only grumpily and awkwardly dance if you lose a bet, this is definitely not the game for you. The rest of you, read on.

The third title released within two years of the first Dance Central, launched to accompany Microsoft Kinect, indicates a fair amount of popularity. The premise of the game couldn’t possibly be more obvious – just dance! However, the makers of the video game, Harmonix (also creators of Guitar Hero), have spun a ‘plot’ around which the story is based. When I logged into the game I had the option of choosing among a handful of modes. There are three main modes - Dance, Story and Fitness. Within Dance, you again have a bunch of options that include Perform, Rehearse, Battle, Party Time and so on.

I chose Story first, wondering if that’ll boost my high levels of enthusiasm about dancing even more. The action starts when I’m invited to a secret underground party which turns out to be the headquarters of DCI (Dance Central Intelligence). Right, like you need an intelligence body for THAT! But hey, it’s just another excuse for you to dance so why complain! The DCI agents work as the “first and last defence line against dance crimes” (whatever that means) and you have to impress them with your dancing skills to be recruited as an agent.

The initial tests are played out to the rather groovy electropop track ‘Beats Down Low’ by Dev feat. The Cataracs. The moves are fairly simple and easy to follow. Once you pass the initial tests, you have to time-travel through various decades and bust a move in the distinctive styles of that era. This happens in chronological order and you start with the ‘70s. So get ready for a lot of hip thrusts and arm rolls.

In the Easy mode, the most complicated moves that I had to follow were the trademark ones like the Hustle, the Electric Slide and the Dougie, depending on which era I was in.

Dance Central 3 also comes with a special ‘Crew Throwdown’ mode where you can form two teams of four and go all out with dance battles or mini-games. While the idea is quite exciting, all my requests to friends and colleagues to join in for a dance battle were mercilessly shot down.

In the 80s, you have to match up to some real trippy B-boying by Mo and Glitch. Although not as intense or complicated as the real thing, the dance moves are still pretty cool. There are a bunch of songs that you can dance on the streets to in the ‘80s. These include Supersonic by J.J Fad, You Got It (The Right Stuff) by New Kids on The Block and Let the Music Play by Shannon.

The track selection on Dance Central 3 is really nice. You get to bust a move to endearing oldies like ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor, ‘Ice Ice Baby’ by Vanilla Ice or the Macarena to new-age party rockers such as ‘Sexy and I Know It’ by LMFAO, ‘On The Floor’ by Jennifer Lopez, ‘Moves Like Jagger’, ‘Mr. Saxobeat’ and so on.

Justin Beiber, Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliot and Katy Perry also get a chance.

There are a couple of mini games within Dance Central 3. These include ‘Keep the Beat’ where you’ll have to keep track of the rhythm and the ‘Make Your Move’ where you can compete with your friends by making up your own dance moves on the go.

To entertain a whole bunch of friends, you have the Party Mode. You just switch it on and the console will keep on playing funky numbers back to back that you can dance away the night to. At the end of each song the Kinect takes a shot of the player’s finishing move and probably much to your embarassment displays it once you are done with the song!

Dance Central 3 also has a Live Challenge mode but you need to be signed in to Xbox Live to access these challenges.

Not that you can take it too seriously, but Dance Central 3 also gives you a special fitness mode. In this mode, you can keep track of the calories you burn during a song.

You can even set a desired number of calories that you want to burn over the week and the console will keep track of your goals.

While the graphics in Dance Central 3 leaves a lot to be desired, the choreography is pretty decent. Based on the difficulty level I had opted for, the dance was tweaked and more complex steps presented. In the Easy mode, the game allows a bit of room for lags and inconsistencies in your moves while you follow virtual gurus. You get points for following the dancers’ moves accurately and the virtual crowd goes crazy cheering for you if you manage to match the moves for an extended period of time.

If nothing else, the team at Dance Central 3 has come up with innovative names for the moves - Butter Tap, Headphone Lean, Step and Slap, Beach Bum, Tour G, Fly Glide, Wednesday Diva and Fancy Brat are only a few. And, you’ll have to try out the game yourself to find out what these steps make you do!

While it’s a fun, easy game to indulge in every once in a while, we see very limited addiction potential in Dance Central 3. It’ll be a sure hit if you are the kind who throws house parties and wants to make sure everyone has an awesome time! Apart from that, eventually it might just turn into one of those games that you load on once when your social life takes a serious plunge!

Rs 2,499

Love – Good song selection, interesting modes, nice dance moves

Hate – Tacky graphics, repetitive modes

Publisher – Harmonix Music Systems

Developer – Harmonix Music Systems

Platform – Xbox 360

Rating - 3.5/5

mahananda.bohidar@thehindu.com

(This article was published on November 20, 2012)
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