If you’ve always wanted to play Dance Central but prefer twangy guitars and cowboy hats over Lady Gaga, you'd better strap on your cowboy boots and bolo tie because Country Dance All-Stars is your game.
Eschewing the top 40 pop assortment of modern hits, Country Dance All-Stars serves up a Texas-sized helping of country songs from such Nashville icons as Brooks & Dunn, Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson and Miley Cyrus. The songs range from upbeat, line-dance style affairs to slower ballads, so there's sure to be something for everyone. Everyone that enjoys country music, that is.
Country Dance All-Stars lacks a lot of the personality that made Dance Central so memorable, however. While Harmonix’s smash hit supplemented its song list with a slick visual style and a cast of colourful dancers to choose from, Country Dance All-Stars is populated with a handful of generic models that never talk or do anything to make them distinct from each other. One very impressive visual effect, though, is that the patterns on their clothes move independently from the characters; it looks like you can see through their outfits into static backgrounds. It’s hard to describe, but it’s very impressive in motion.
In addition to the standard quick play and multiplayer modes, the game also adds two unique game types, Perfection and Freeze. Perfection only scores you if your moves are rated “Great!”, while Freeze will make you stop moving during random parts of the song. If you move your score is taken away from you. It’s extremely frustrating as there’s no warning that it’s coming, so even in the middle of a move you’ll have to try to hold as still as possible. Even if you’re not moving, if whatever’s behind you is similar in colour to your skin or clothing, Kinect will get confused and you’ll be back to zero.
The actual dancing is a large step up from developer High Voltage’s last effort in Victorious: Time to Shine. Like every other dance game to hit Kinect, you mirror the on-screen characters as cue cards slide up the side of the screen to tell you what’s coming up next. The moves are generally more involving than Dance Central's, so it's hard for the small icon to really explain the extent of what’s required of you. Doing well will require some repetition in order to fully understand each song’s moves.
Country Dance All-Stars is yet another poor man’s Dance Central, but its unique country flavour will help it stand out on store shelves. It’s not as good as Dance Central, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad; it’s just catering to a very specific audience. If you know what a “honkey tonk badonkadonk” is, you will have an absolute blast with Country Dance All-Stars. If country music isn’t your thing, then it’s best to get back in your beat-up pickup truck and head back to the city.