Review: Just Dance 4 is a fun but familiar two step
If you're a fan of the Just Dance series, then the latest entry – Just Dance 4 – probably won't startle you. Ubisoft knows what's been selling so well over the years, people moving along to brightly colored neon silhouettes on the screen as they shake their tail feathers in a collective fashion. And so, they follow the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" logic, with only a few minor changes here and there. For those of you seeking to get your dance on, you won't mind. But we can't help but think some more changes could've been applied.
The game once again has you following on-screen characters in the best way possible to get a good performance marking for each song. Some dances are easier to follow than others, depending on the tempo of your selection, but obviously you can lower the difficulty if you're a rookie just getting his or her start. On-screen prompts also appear to give you an idea what to do with each move, so you're not just blind guessing and performing the Funky Chicken all over the place.
It's a decent system and, in some cases, it works better with friends. Up to four players can take part in a dance performance, and the more people you get involved, the more fun it gets. The four-player dance numbers are the most interesting, mainly because everyone gets involved, rather than sitting on the sidelines. For the PlayStation 3 version, however, keep in mind that everyone needs a Move controller to take part in the action. The Xbox 360 version just has everyone standing in front of a Kinect and, for the most part, detects them. So choose accordingly when it comes to your dance party.
There is a fun new Battle Mode where you can challenge friends to a mixture of 30-somewhat second song bits, getting your best moves on and seeing who comes out on top. But Dance Central 3 has a better selection when it comes to throwing down against someone. In comparison, this mode just feels pasted on. Regardless, it still beats nothing.
Where Just Dance 4 is most beneficial is with its Sweat Mode. Here, you can choose songs and dance to your heart's content, while keeping track of your weight loss progress, as well as calories that you burn off with each one. Those of you who aren't the most proficient in gym workouts will thoroughly enjoy this mode. We just wish there was a way you could track progress with others, like you could in, say, EA Sports Active 2.0.
The visual presentation of Just Dance 4 hasn't changed much at all. Though the dancers and silhouettes are easy to keep track of, and some of the background effects are festive, the game as a whole hasn't evolved much at all from Just Dance 3…or Just Dance 1 or 2, for that matter. Worse yet, the menus aren't much help, and take a little while to sort through with your Move controller in hand. (On a side note, they're just as bad on the Kinect.)
But Just Dance 4 does validate itself in the song department. Even though the songs have no real connection – and Justin Bieber is teamed with Nicky Minaj on the rather forgettable "Beauty and a Beat" duet (shoot me) – there are still some gems worth toe-tapping to here, including Flo Rida's "I Got a Feeling", Europe's "The Final Countdown" (it's actually not bad), Will Smith's "Wild Wild West" and Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" – finally, a way to enjoy that song without feeling like you're being Rick-Rolled.
However, those songs could've been released in an expansion rather than a complete game. Despite the fact there's a couple of new modes, Just Dance 4 just doesn't evolve the series forward enough to be considered a must-have for everyone. That said, fans should still enjoy it, as long as you can take the overload of neon that awaits you on-screen. Seriously…I'm just going to wear black the rest of the year, I'm so overloaded…
[Reviewed on PlayStation 3]