Dance Central • Page 2

Boogie wonderland.

The song selection menu divides tracks into categories ranging from Warm-Up to Hardcore, according to how complex the routines are. Tracks are then listed in order of difficulty within those categories.

Working through them systematically illustrates how finely tuned Dance Central's difficulty curve is. It ramps up in subtle increments, introducing new moves gradually and making you feel like you're truly becoming a better dancer as you progress.

If you get stuck on a particular track you can practice it in Break It Down mode, which teaches you all the moves of a routine individually. You can skip over steps you've already grasped and rehearse the trickier ones as many times as you like. It's a smart system with a slick interface, and putting the extra effort in does improve your dancing.

This is something you're likely to care about more when playing Dance Central than you might when playing a more casual dance game such as Just Dance, which is often accused of not being a proper game by virtue of the fact it doesn't have structural features like a formal progression system and unlockable content.

Obviously that's like complaining about the lack of narrative complexity and sophisticated leitmotifs in an episode of The Chuckle Brothers. But let's not start. The point is, those critics won't have so much to complain about when it comes to Dance Central.

This game is as solidly structured as the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, due to the fact it follows the same progression model – the one Harmonix spent years fine-tuning with those titles. Like them it offers a rewarding, enduring single-player experience. It's perfect for those who can only dance like there's no-one watching when there's actually no-one watching.

But what about Dance Central's multiplayer offering? Just Dance excels in this area, being the type of game you can play with young children and old buffers simultaneously, or stick on when everyone's so drunk you can't remember which machine is the Wii ("I think it's the white one, no wait that's the fridge") and still have a good time.

The more people join in with a Just Dance session, the more fun it gets, until a kind of critical mass is reached and even the most hardcore PC gaming enthusiast finds himself throwing cycnicism to the wind in favour of fist-pumping to Technotronic. Can Dance Central also generate that kind of knockabout revelry?

Not quite. For starters, the game can only evaluate one dancer's moves at a time. Other people can stand behind you and dance along - and they'll have the space to do so, seeing as you'll have moved all your furniture into the attic anyway so the bloody camera can see your legs. But their performances won't be evaluated in any way.

There's only one multiplayer mode. It's titled Dance Battle, it's turn-based and it's designed for a maximum of two players. You take it in turns to perform long sections of the routine while the other player practices in the background, or just stands about waiting for their go.

If neither player has danced to the track before, whoever goes second has a huge advantage - they get to watch and learn the routine while player one performs it for the first time.

Rubbishly, you can't ever tell who's winning, as individual scores aren't revealed until the song is over. Just Dance displays scores for each player at all times; this encourages players who are lagging behind to turn their waggle on and permits those in front to feel smug. It's hard to care who's in the lead when you don't know, as is the case with Dance Central.

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About the author

Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson

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Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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