Just Dance 4 (XBOX 360) Review
When the current generation of consoles were released the Wii opened up a wide range of new gaming possibilities for gamers, something Sony with Move and Microsoft using Kinect have since looked to capitalise on. For as long as gaming has been around we have had repetitive or timed gameplay which became extremely popular most recently with the Guitar Hero franchise but the ability to "be the controller" brought us into that new realm. Game developers could make us more active, more involved and while initial games were about sports and fitness it wasn't long before dance based titles were hitting the market.
Just Dance (for Wii) was one of the first games to take the idea which had become so popular with Dance Dance Revolution in the 90s and bring it up to date. Huge sales followed, along with sequels and competitors before the franchise moved to multiple platforms in Just Dance 3.
Now in its fourth main iteration the Just Dance series looks to offer a definitive dance and fitness game for 360, PS3 and Wii.
As is common for dance/rhythm based games the overall gameplay and concept of Just Dance 4 is reasonably simple. We move through the game menu, choosing a dancer/avatar to represent us on stage before choosing a track to dance to. We are then placed in various arenas/rooms and follow the movements of the on-screen person as closely as possible. The more accurate we are, the more quests/tasks we achieve and the higher our (mojo) score can go.
Helping us along the way are more basic stick person hints for upcoming moves and we get score trackers too, which help us see how close we are to the main goals for each song. All of our points are added, progressing us through the game but that isn't the only tracking that is going on. As is common for Kinect titles our camera is used to film us then at the end of each song we can create, or have the game auto create, a montage of our finest moments in a music video. These can then be shared online via JDTV on 360 or Facebook which adds to the community feel that dancer cards with our stats/preferences gives.
Elsewhere in the game we have the option to download additional tracks and a fitness mode (Just Sweat) is also present. In this mode we can set a workout time and style of music then have the game track our calorie burn as well as potential heart rate based on the moves and frequency of action we are performing.
One of the first things which jumped out at us when using Just Dance 4 with Kinect is that Ubisoft have found a pretty decent menu system motion control. Based around pushing our hand forward to select rather than hover it is reasonably accurate and easy to use... certainly we had less accidental or just plain wrong selections than in other dance menu's. That said we would still prefer that Kinect games allowed full controller use at the menu screens. It is so much easier than motion which is best suited to actual gameplay.
Taking a look at the fitness mode it was a nice change of pace, something which allows us to dance for longer periods without worrying about changing tracks which interrupts any fitness routine. The core gameplay is however what the game is all about and that works very well indeed. Backed by some decent audio quality and over the top, brightly coloured graphics the dance portion of the game is responsive and easy to follow. The on-screen diagrams make sense, even for young and novice users and the tracklisting has a little bit of something for everyone too.
Without doubt best enjoyed in multiplayer where we can compete with friends, or laugh at them, Just Dance 4 offers slightly over the top but always entertaining rhythm based play. Just Sweat mode helps it rise above other similar titles.