Kinect Sports may have been the best-selling Kinect launch title, but Harmonix’s Dance Central was definitely the most critically acclaimed title out of that bunch. Developed by the same studio that brought us Rock Band and the original Guitar Hero, Dance Central was a slick, stylish take on controller-free gaming. Unsurprisingly, Harmonix is out to build on that success with the recently announced sequel, Dance Central 2. We just hit the dance floor here at E3 2011 to see what’s new.
The big push for Dance Central 2 is making it a more social game. The original let players take turns dancing in a sort of pass-the-lack-of-controller dance battle, but in the sequel you can now go at it simultaneously. In fact, you'll even be able to have that second player drop in or out of the song at any time. Naturally, this comes with all the caveats that you'd expect: make sure you have plenty of space in your living room, because with the moves you'll be doing, you could very easily wind up accidentally landing an elbow on grandma's head in the middle of a heated dance-off set to the tune of Usher's "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love."
Another new feature in Dance Central 2 is revamped campaign mode. Whereas the original Dance Central had a list of songs organized by difficulty level, Dance Central 2 is going to have a more fully featured story mode. Basically, the characters in the game all belong to distinct dance crews each with wildly different (and rather exotic) fashion choices. As the story unfolds, you'll be making your way through the world of underground dance crews and working your way up the ranks of the best-known dancers in the world. We didn't get to see any of this campaign mode, but given the bizarre names and faces that were in the original game, we're eager to see how Harmonix has fleshed out those caricatures into full-on characters.
Other various tweaks and additions have been scattered throughout the sequel. Among the improvements that Harmonix was eager to list off were a revamped tutorial mode; the ability to get a quick look at a song's choreography while choosing it from the song list; and the ability to navigate all the menus with your voice. But our personal favorite is that you can import all your songs from the first game into Dance Central 2. If there was one major flaw with the original Dance Central, it's that it just didn't have as much content as other rhythm games. So we really like the idea of effectively doubling the list of songs in Dance Central 2 right out of the gate--even if they're ones we've already danced to in the past.
All told, Dance Central 2 is looking like the stylish, fun sort of game that we've all come to expect from Harmonix. We're especially interested in seeing how that new campaign mode is going to work, so hopefully we'll be able to report back on that before the game launches later this year.