I am exhausted. Seriously. My limbs are weak and my clothes are soggy from sweat. Pretty disgusting I know but what do you expect from a person who just spent hours gaming… Wait, what?
‘Just Dance 2014’ is not your ordinary game. I would sooner describe it as a mix of partying and exercise. In fact, if I hadn’t been introduced to it at a friend’s Christmas party last year, I probably wouldn’t have believed those things were achievable in one small disc. But ‘Just Dance’ highlights how sociable gaming can be and reminds me yet again that not all video games are designed for couch potatoes.
There are however, a few things you should know. Firstly, you’ll need a lot of space to play ‘Just Dance 2014’ properly. If you only have a small cluttered room, you won’t have much fun with it. The dance routines require players to move around a lot and having to worry about tripping would severely lessen the experience. Secondly, you have to enjoy pop music. Although the game has a varied selection, they are all essentially pop songs. So if head banging at a death metal concert is your thing, you should probably cross this off your shopping list. That said, there is still a ton of pop variety, from Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to Ghostbusters and Aladdin.
The final thing is that you need a Kinect or Playstation Move. Playing on the Xbox 360, I found the Kinect made the whole experience utterly exhausting (which is a good thing). Unlike the PlayStation 3, which uses the Move motion controllers, the Kinect sensor follows your entire body. It’s impossible to get a perfect score if you’re not moving your legs as well as your arms. It seems like the experience will vary depending on the platform of your choice so if you do own multiple consoles and are considering this game as part of your exercise regime, which to be honest isn’t the craziest idea ever, then it’s definitely worth doing your research!
Whilst the title of this game is probably the most succinct explanation of its game play, it is perhaps not quite detailed enough. Simply put, ‘Just Dance 2014’ requires players to follow routines performed by virtual dances to popular songs. The better you follow these moves, which is picked up by the Kinect sensor, the higher your score and the more “M” points you are awarded. With these points extra songs and alternate routines are available for players to purchase through the store.
What you really want ‘Just Dance 2014′ for is the multiplayer because this game has the ability to create some fantastic memories with your friends. Ubisoft have clearly recognised this because the games best feature is merely that is caters towards groups. Most routines are designed for multiple players and the remainder have up to four player capability. Similarly, dance moves are mostly catered towards groups or pairs. These routines can be played by groups of all ages, so whether it’s a young girls’ sleepover or just your normal house party, everyone is guaranteed to have fun. Although, if you’re not thrilled at the idea of touching your dance partner then choose a solo routine because moves like holding hands, linking arms and even hugging are all on the menu.
Whilst the multiplayer is probably the main draw card for this game, it does offer great one-player routines. Particularly thrilling for me was the free downloadable Katy Perry song “Roar” which, whilst not the most exciting song on its own, indicates the possibility of additional free songs and routines to be made available to players in the future. And for those looking to get some exercise out of the game, “sweat mode” allows gamers to select the amount of minutes they want to dance for and then go all out, calorie counter included. These features are all enhanced by the Just Dance achievement list. Solo players are encouraged to push themselves with achievements being awarded for perfecting dance routines or burning a certain amount of calories. In total there are nine achievement dedicated simply to exercise, which is certainly enough to keep solo players entertained and sweating for some time to come!
As glowing as this review has been, I do have one complaint. Because dance routines often involve a lot of spinning around and switching sides, the Kinect can often switch players. For solo routines, where players follow identical moves, this isn’t such an issue. But in group routines, which are designed for all players to have their own unique dance, the poor tracking quality can severely affect your overall score. To be fair, this complaint is mostly directed at the Kinect technology and is only a small annoyance in a very entertaining game.
Another confronting element of this game is the ‘AutoDance’ feature. This involves the Kinect filming at various intervals throughout your routine, automatically editing the footage and showing it back to you when you’ve finished. Now, I may be in the minority here, but seeing my uncoordinated, chubby body dancing back at me after I’ve embarrassed myself with a low score isn’t exactly what I want in entertainment. And as far as I can tell, there is no way to disable it. But when a friend and I failed miserably at George Michael’s ‘Careless Whispers’, I learned to accept and even appreciate the hilarity of bad dancing. If however, unlike me, you are proud of your rhythmic achievements, there’s the option to upload your “AutoDance” video to JDTV, allowing all of the world to see you strut your stuff. In all honesty, watching these videos is one of the most entertaining features of this game although I still shudder at the idea of anyone watching mine.
My recommendation: As soon as you buy this game, and you definitely should, ring up everyone you know and invite them over for a dance party. You won’t be disappointed… Although you will be left panting.