Just Dance 4 360 Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
Just Dance 4
Reviewed by
Sean Warhurst
on
Just Dance 4 360 Review. When held up in comparison to more accomplished entries in the dancing game genre, such as ‘Dance Central’, which still reigns supreme as the most realistic and intuitive series on the market, the game’s failings become glaringly apparent, but when judged on its own merits ‘Just Dance 4’ is easily one of the most fun party games on the market, and that’s really all that matters in the long run. 
Rating:
3.5

Gameplay 7.0
Graphics 6.0
Sound 9.0
Value 7.0
Distributor: Ubisoft
Rating: G
Review Date: Nov 2012
Reviewer:
Sean Warhurst

7.0


Just Dance 4 

Ubisoft’s latest iteration of the increasingly popular Just Dance series has just been released, the fourth installment in little under three years of a game that revels in making players shed their inhibitions and flail around madly in front of their television sets to the latest Pop hits.

Although not quite a colossal failure on the scale of Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, you’d be hard pressed to classify Microsoft’s Kinect as an overwhelming success.  Despite widespread early adoption and a promising concept, Kinect’s games catalogue is now comprised of a glut of substandard dancing and exercise games and poorly implemented additions to regular games that border on the superfluous. Although a small percentage of games managed to bypass the horrendous tracking abilities of the system and deliver something bordering on an enjoyable experience, too many of them are hampered by the Kinect’s lack of responsiveness, leading to a frustrating experience that eventually leads to relegation to a dusty shelf.

So, how does Just Dance 4 hold up in the face of the handicaps of the platform?

The first hurdle the player has to overcome is the lack of responsiveness when navigating the menus, which seem to sporadically register your movements, leading to reticent attempts to position your cursor on the right prompt, accidently selecting the wrong option and then having to complete the arduous task of going back and poking haphazardly at the screen again – A painful process, to be sure.

The title of the game says all you really need to know about the gameplay - You just dance.  Even those of us with dancing abilities that equate to not much more than spasmodically lurching about like Frankenstein’s Monster will find that the scoring system is fairly lenient, with the main focus being on accessibility. Literally anyone can jump in and feel as if they’re burning up the dance floor like Travolta, disintegrating panties with the sheer power of dance.

Besides the regular dance routines the game also has new and improved versions of ‘Battle Mode’ and ‘Just Sweat’, the resident fitness mode. ‘Battle mode’ is basically structured like a musical Thunderdome, where players, complete with health bars, battle it out to an amalgamation of two tracks until one reigns victorious. This is quite a fun little mode and was probably the one I returned to the most.

‘Just Sweat’ runs the risk of being slightly redundant, as even with the addition of a calorie counter and different intensities of work outs, it hardly gives dedicated fitness games a run for their money. While featuring some entertaining routines, it never comes off being useful as a genuine fitness aid. However, it is nice to have some extra modes to mix things up a bit.

As an incentive to replay tracks beyond getting five stars, there are also dance quests, specific goals attached to each song with a wide variety of challenges, such as nailing all gold moves. As you play through the game, you’ll score mojo points, which can be used to unlock extra modes and added features. Exclusive to the Xbox 360 release is ‘Just Dance TV’, basically a collection of snapshots taken throughout the routine strung together to create your very own mortifying music video which you can then share online. This feature is far from unique to the series but it does add a nice social element.

The game does a surprisingly good job tracking your movements, considering how unintuitive the menu system is, but those dance cards at the bottom of the screen are as annoyingly hard to read as ever. Generally you’ll fumble your way through a song, relying more on the garishly dressed dancers to inform your movements. This is a long standing bone of contention with the series and one I had hoped Ubisoft would have tried to refine; as it is, it’s a minor gripe and won’t detract from your enjoyment, even if sometimes what’s happening on screen in no way resembles what you thought you were supposed to do.

If you can find three other friends uninhibited (or drunk) enough to participate, the game can be a chaotically enjoyable experience where everyone gyrates and tries to duck elbows being thrown at them from all directions. Certain songs practically necessitate having at least one other player, otherwise you may very well find yourself awkwardly air-humping an invisible Rock Lobster, but due to the restricted playing space, things can get a little crazy and the motion tracking can struggle to keep up with all four players. Most of the dance routines lean towards the ridiculous rather than being legitimate dance moves but that sense of fun has always been what separates ‘Just Dance’ from the more serious competition.

Certain songs have additional routines unlockable by completing challenges on Ubisoft’s Uplay system, and downloadable content is also available, including this year’s ‘Macarena’, the increasingly grating ‘Gangnam Style’ by Korean rapper PSY, ensuring that many gamers will be drunkenly riding their invisible ponies to their heart’s content.

Achievements come thick and fast; I had racked up 200 points after half an hour of playing. Although there are some more challenging achievements hidden in there, most of them are easily obtainable and you’ll have a full 1000 GS added to your gamercard in no time.

Graphics/Audio

As with previous titles, visually ‘Just Dance 4’ isn’t all that impressive, basically just stylised dancers superimposed on mildly interesting backgrounds, although some of the character designs are amusing, such as ‘The Final Countdown’ wrestlers and the giant Rock Lobster. If you’re familiar with the series, it’s more of the same graphically. Some of the moves are particularly over the top and are represented well by the on screen avatars, but you’ll occasionally furrow your brow as you try to follow along with some of the more elaborate routines.

The main selling point of the game is, of course, the music. Ubisoft has taken great care to include a wide variety of genres that appeal to different demographics, including cheesy Eighties anthems, Dubstep, RnB and straightforward Pop. Artists include Skrillex, Rihanna, Carly Rae Jepsen, Will Smith, The B52s and, erm, Justin Bieber. With over 40 tracks to shake your groove thang to, there’s truly something for everybody... Unless you’re solely into Norwegian Black Metal, in which case why the hell are you playing ‘Just Dance 4’ when there are perfectly good churches to burn down?

Final Level

As with previous iterations in the series, ‘Just Dance 4’ is a fun romp in which anyone can participate and is as accessible as ever to the casual gamer. The over-the-top style and a myriad of different tracks are endearing and it’s always good when a game can coerce your grandmother to join in with a frenzied rendition of ‘The Time Warp’.

If you weren’t a fan of the series previously, there isn’t anything new that’s going to make you change your mind but if you don’t mind paying $60 for what is basically an expansion pack, you’ll have a blast. It’s a bit of a missed opportunity on Ubisoft’s behalf when it comes to rectifying some of the issues present in the previous entries, such as the terrible menu interface, useless dance cards and occasionally glitchy motion tracking. These flaws can make certain aspects of the game much more frustrating than they should be.

When held up in comparison to more accomplished entries in the dancing game genre, such as ‘Dance Central’, which still reigns supreme as the most realistic and intuitive series on the market, the game’s failings become glaringly apparent, but when judged on its own merits ‘Just Dance 4’ is easily one of the most fun party games on the market, and that’s really all that matters in the long run. 






 
 



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