Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Players: One - Four
Platform: Xbox 360
Launch Date: 14th October 2011
Over the last few years Wii gamers have had the pleasure of being able to flail there arms around whilst holding a Wiimote for the game series Just Dance. Now that the Xbox 360 has Kinect, Ubisoft Paris has decided to capitalise on this and bring the series to a whole new height.
Featuring full body tracking now does the newest game in the series manage to stand up and compete against the older games and even the port of the same game on the Wii? The only way to find out how this game stacks up is to carry on reading as we dissect the game in our full in depth review.
Game play - 8/10
Anybody who purchases Just Dance 3 will obviously be purchasing it mainly because of the dancing factor that the game has, plus the added track list will no doubt entice a few people to come and play, so with that said lets delve into the gameplay aspect of the game.
When you load up the game and start flicking your way through the menu system, you will notice that the menus are laid out nicely and at first they will seem pretty easy to navigate, all you need to do is just swipe from right to left with your arm.
This is one of the games main downfalls as a whole though, the actual menu system is far too sensitive with Kinect, often I would find myself selecting modes or songs when I wasnít even trying to play the game, for example standing holding the phone and I move my body ever so slightly, Kinect and Just Dance 3 took that as I wanted to start dancing to a song.
This could easily be tweaked though with a future update, but this also brings me onto my next problem with the menu system, when you try to browse the song list you have to hold your arm out and either lift it up or down depending on which song your looking for. Now as I said in the previous paragraph that the game was way to sensitive on the menus, It appears that on the track list menu its far to undersensitive as I would be holding my arm out for prolonged periods of time and the menu system wouldnít budge, which then resulted in me trying again to get it to work.
Overall though even though its ever so slight itís a shame that those problems persist as the rest of the games mechanics were quite steller in all honesty, take for instance when you have selected your song and decided to dance to it, after a very brief loading screen you will be met with a screen in which you can choose the amount of dancers you would like the game to track and what difficulty you would like to play the game on.
Letís start with the difficulties though if you hold your hand up above your head your difficulty will change from normal to easy and vice versa, it was a nice simple mechanic to change how you wanted to play the game and it worked rather well.
Somebody had obviously alerted the Teletubbies, that a party was in town
Once you have selected your difficulty again you can choose to bring in more players or if somebody decides to chicken out they can leave the sensor area and they will drop out of the game, Just Dance 3 though can support up to four dancers all at the same time, you will need plenty of room for this though and everybody will need to stand in a staggered line for Kinect to pick you all up.
When you actually decide the difficulty you want to play on, and how many players are going to play alongside you, you can then start to dance, the dancing aspect of the game though works exceedingly well no matter the difficulty you are playing on, and the tracking is pretty decent also.
The game is pretty lenient when it comes to scoring you and how in sync you are, seeing as how some of the dance moves can be quite fast and tricky to pick up, on easy it sometimes felt like as long as you were moving in the direction that the dancers were doing on the screen, then the game would score you with an Ok or Good rating for that move, but if you found yourself replicating the move perfectly and in sync with the dancer you would get a Perfect Rating.
Whilst the game doesnít tell you exactly how it scores your performance it seemed like you were scored for each individual move and how well you pulled it off, from what I could gather there was no multiplyers or anything that was going on to help out with your score, this meant that you would have to hit most of the moves in a song to even think about five starring it.
You will be glad to know that every so often whilst you are dancing away, the game will ask you to do a special move for that song or a special pose, these are normally highlighted in gold, and if you can pull one of them off you will manage to attain yourself a nice point increase.
Another factor to the dancing though is that when you play with two or more players, some of the songs will come with a different set routine for each player, this adds a little extra spice into the mix and helps to also add a little bit of a competitive edge to it as you will find yourself trying to do better in your routine compared to your partners one.
Sometimes the different routines will interact with each other and this will mean that you will have to move around each other and pull of joint dance moves; these were a nice little touch, though I didnít really see the point of them in single player.
If you want to add a little bit of an extra fitness element to the game, or would like to see roughly how many calories you are burning off, then a nice little addition to the game called Sweat Mode lets you see how much sweat you have supposedly burned off during each song, these are normally awarded as points and if you decide to turn the mode on you will be awarded with achievements and fun little facts depending on how many points you have earned for yourself.
Another new feature to the Just Dance series is the inclusion of Just Create, this is a mode which does pretty much exactly what it says, it lets you create your own dances and lets you do it in your own style. Not only can you create your own choreographies you can also upload them to the Just Dance community for them to be able to download and try out for themselves, or if your feeling adventurous then you can even download another players choreography and dance along to it to see how hard their routine is to follow.
Overall for a dance title this game really packs some nice features, its good to see that the Ubisoft Paris team is always trying to push forward with new modes and add to the great overall experience that Just Dance 3 offers to the player whilst they are playing the game. There are a few hiccups like with the menu system but these can be easily over looked by everything else that the game as to offer.
This guy punches yellow squares, be scared!
Graphics - 9/10
When you first boot up Just Dance 3 you wonít have to wait around for long to get started as you will soon be met with a decent and quite minimalistic menu system, which looks both ambient and relaxing.
By choosing different options different icons will spin round at the top to also help highlight which selection you are currently on, with different options available for Songs, Shop, Extras etc it helps the player to define what option is selected especially if they are having problems with the menu system itself.
So letís now get onto the actual graphics that the game contains when you go into any of the dance routines that are currently available on the disc once you purchase it. The art style remains very true to the unique style that the team who make Just Dance have used throughout the series, and the old term if it isnít broke donít fix it springs to mind here.
The game uses a very funky pop art style that comprises of very bright and almost fluorescent colourings, with the character models themselves normally being comprised of many different colouring to highlight different parts of there body. For example the dance on screen could have bright yellow trousers but a pink top and fluorescent blue hat on.
This may seem rather weird, but its actually a really nice touch and in all honesty it shows that Just Dance can stand on its own two legs without the need for lots of 3D animations running in the background, I guess you could go as far as to say that the more simplistic Just Dance method works better then the style used in say its biggest competitor Dance Central.
This isnít the only graphic spectacular show that Just Dance 3 puts on for us all though, whilst your dancing away you will notice that the backgrounds in each of the songs is very dynamic and will change depending on different sections of the song your listening to and it helps really set the party mood atmosphere in place.
There are many different dance actor models that are present in this game, and its also nice to see that the figures on screen dancing are actual real life dancers that have been transformed into a near 2.5D experience on screen, again the fact the game doesnít utilize and type of 3D modelling at all really make this a nice all round graphic package.
Now with this being a dance game, and with many gamers being shockingly bad at dancing, it is nice to see that when it comes to the flash cards that this game utilizes, they are actually done remarkably well, most of the images are pretty clear what your supposed to be doing when the next move starts, and not only are the images fairly clear to make out, they are also pretty big to boot.
I think though that with the amount of the dance moves available in the game it would have been nice if some sort of animation was included in them to help verify what move is what instead of getting it confused with something else.
If your expecting big budget 3D animation then this probably wonít be the game for you, but if you want something that tryís to stand up and not only be bold but also beautiful when it comes to graphics and if you want that game to really set a party mood in place then Just Dance 3 is the real choice for you.
These guys could easily be summed up as the modern day Village People
Sound - 9/10
Obviously with Just Dance 3 being focused very much so on the aspect of both dancing and music, it would be hard to review the title if the game contained no sound what so ever, but donít worry Ubisoft have got you covered.
To be honest they have you more then covered because the set list in the game is comprised of some pretty big hit songs ranging from a bunch of different decades so there really is something for everyone in this package.
The Xbox 360 Version comes with 51 songs with the ability to download more via the marketplace, and all of the songs that are featured are the master tracks and all of them sound nice and clear which helps when youíre working out or dancing to each of the songs available.
There are also a few mega mixes that are included by way of unlocking them these are normally mash-ups of a certain type of genre, and they actually work and fit into the game quite nicely.
All of the songs featured on the disc though wont range from being in the top 40, some of the tracks are tracks that many people may not have heard of, but again by using them in Just Dance 3 its helping the gamers awareness to new or different artists that they may not have come across in a different way.
If you want to be really creative though some songs feature the ability to shout out to get some bonus points, whilst technically you can just shout out any old rubbish, I think the point of this feature was to make the gamer actually sing along to their favourite songs and help that overall party experience.
Everybody Dance Now!
Difficulty - 5/10
With Just Dance 3 offering two difficulty modes in which it likes to call Easy and Normal, there are a bunch of different ways you can play if you are finding the games scoring system too difficult and that your only earning one or two stars per song.
With the easy difficulty you are only judged on your dancing from the top half of your body, so that counts all movements from the waist upwards to your head, whilst having the difficulty on Normal will mean the Kinect sensor will track the whole of your body and be more harsh with you if you donít pull something off that your supposed to.
Overall though the game is far more easier to pick up and play then that of Dance Central 2, the game itself wonít tell you that you are performing badly or that you need to pick up the tempo, instead it will just keep going and let you try and dance at your own pace.
Whilst it may be easy to pick up four stars on some of your favourite songs, that dreaded five star rating seems to be a little too harshly judged upon, this seems to be down to the fact that the cut off points for the amount of stars you get seem to be that you need to have hit at least all of the moves within the song and also stayed in rhythm,
Whilst it is hard to tell how the scoring works on the game I think from what I worked out, if you manage to score ten thousand points in a song or higher then that is the cut off for the fifth and final star, but with most songs not going much over the ten thousand mark then your going to need to be pretty accurate or hit a lot of perfects whilst dancing around.
Whilst itís not the hardest dance game in the world to play and with most of the moves being quite easy to perform its nice to know that when you do eventually do bad at a song you can just go right back into it and know the game wont judge you for it.
As you can see, the colours are bright and vibrant
Achievements - 5/10
The achievements in this game really can be summed up just by saying Marmite, gamers will either love them because of the challenge that many of the achievements offer out, and many other gamers will hate them because some of them are too hard to achieve.
The achievements really will judge you based on your dancing ability whilst also offering a few odd ball achievements to help that gamerscore a little bit without it feeling too abused.
Some of the easier achievements that the game has is to get three stars on a Simon says game, or to just simply shout out anything random during the course of a dance. Both of these achievements will offer you a supplementary five gamerscore for your troubles.
If you want to be daring though you can always work you way towards being either good enough or be ready to grind your way to achievements such as the Eyes Closed Ė Gold achievement which sees the gamer trying to five star ten songs In a row whilst having the pictograms or flash cards disabled. You will have to play this game for a whole lot of time to manage to remember all of the dance routines for sure.
An example of one of the achievements that you will find yourself needing to grind if you are planning on picking it up though is Super Dancer Ė Gold which sees you having to dance your way through two hundred songs for thirty five gamerscore.
As I mentioned at the start of the achievements section though there are a few odd ball achievements which will prove fun to obtain like the Dancing With The Devil Achievement, this is obtained by playing the game during the set hours of Midnight to three oíclock in the morning.
The mix of fifty achievements in this game will prove a worthy challenge for any gamerscore hunter, if your not that great at dancing games then it would be fair to say that gaining the full one thousand gamerscore may be out of your reach, but if you have some rhythm and style then it will be possible to do, your just going to need a whole lot of time on your hands to do it.
For me personally I found this title to be better then Dance Central, I found it to be more user friendly easier to pick and play and it had a better track listing then that of Dance Central.
Sure it may not have the big high budgets that Dance Central has but I think this review proves that Just Dance really doesnít need to be something it isnít and by the title, all this game really wants you to do is dance and enjoy yourself.
It will be interesting to see where Ubisoft go with the DLC route for the game, will they continue to support the game or will they support it for awhile before using their assets to create the next game in the series.
Seeing as most other dance games to hit Kinect have been a massive flop, its nice to see that Ubisoftís first entry with the Just Dance franchise as gone as smoothly as it as done, and because of this I will be eagerly awaiting to see what the next game brings to the table.
Overall: 8.5/10 Great