E3 2011: Dance Central 2

QUICKTAKE: Harmonix returns to the dance floor with its second entry in the Dance Central franchise. This time, two players will be able to tear it up simultaneously with drop-in and drop-out gameplay. Like Rock Band to Rock Band 2, the core of the game remains the same, leaving Harmonix to focus on adding to the game's feature list. BOOM video 9368 THE DEMO: Dance Central 2's demo consisted of scanning through the menus and selecting a track to dance to. One person can start dancing and be joined at any time by another dancer. For selected multiplayer dances, each dancer can select their own level of difficulty. Raising a hand adds a new player avatar to the screen--depending where they are standing in front of the Kinect sensor. Walking away from the screen removes that player. Though Harmonix made mention of refinements to its teaching tool "Break it Down," that was not on display. DETAILS: While dancing poorly, Dance Central 2 does a better job of letting the player know they aren't stepping it up (or stomping the yard). The dancing itself is essentially the same as the original game, save for some new moves. Other additions include new venues, two of which were on display at E3 2011. There's also a campaign mode being added to the game, which Harmonix wasn't discussing; however, it seems to be tied to the specific characters in the game. Each character belongs to a dancing crew, each of which share a similar fashion sense. The majority of my time with Harmonix was spent trying to get a few answers regarding some of the more burning questions. Though Harmonix already announced song importing will exist to bring Dance Central 1 games into Dance Central 2, the developer confirmed that--unlike Rock Band's importing process--none of the tracks have been left behind. The game now sports voice recognition as well, allowing players to navigate menus easily or even control elements in the "Break it Down" mode (like pausing or going back).

Dance Central 2 adds simultaneous two-player dance tracking to the party.

Stats are being more fleshed out as well, Harmonix said, though they would not confirm my inquires about tracking calories burned. Harmonix says that two elements contributed to the additions and refinements in Dance Central 2: community feedback and familiarity with the Kinect technology. The team feels more comfortable working with Kinect, and thus, more can be done with it. Additionally, development of downloadable content has been streamlined, making it easier for the team to craft new dances to add to the game; however, Harmonix wouldn't discuss whether DLC would be more frequent for the sequel. In terms of adding an in-game DLC storefront, Harmonix was tight-lipped. Dance Battles return except now players will also have sections where they dance against each other at the same time, rather than trading off the dance floor space. The original Dance Central was already a solid party experience, getting multiple people out of their seats at once. The major difference here is that the game can now score two players at once. Like Rock Band to Rock Band 2, the new installment of Dance Central looks to make an already fun experience much more entertaining. Watch the Shacknews E3 2011 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. You can also subscribe to it with your favorite RSS reader.