Dance Dance Revolution: Ultramix 3 review
3rd time's not quite the charm for Ultramix
Over 70 songs and 100 minutes of music. Additional content downloadable via Xbox Live. Up to 4 can play simultaneously. New gameplay modes.The bad:
Occasionally unresponsive controls. Rather dull variety of music/graphics. Not much variety on new game modes. Low difficulty level.Summary:
The 3rd installment in the DDR series on Xbox, Ultramix 3 again totally overhauls the franchise for it's annual release, this time adding new modes of gameplay, expanded Xbox Live compatibility, and over 70 new songs for 100+ minutes of music & gameplay.
The graphics are generally OK. They really have not changed from the previous UM games, decent animations & character modeling accompanied by music videos in the background. Some videos are really good, featuring classic videos mixed with cartoon-style animations, but some of the videos are boring and get used way too much, getting repetitive very quickly. The dancers look good and are detailed nicely, but they still look rough around the edges. Sounds are generally well-done as often is the case: The music quality is excellent and in the case of songs ported from the arcade, the home version songs actually sound better without all the arcade noise around. This year's selection of tracks is made up of a handful of arcade/J-Pop tracks, licensed music from bands like Good Charlotte, The Black Eyed Peas, and Ray Charles among others, and assorted other songs that generally are pop & rock that are nice, but seem to be a little more dull compared to previous games. Some songs do stand out though-one song pays a bit of homage to Konami's legendary "Castlevania" gaming franchise, and two tracks are taken from Konami's "Rumble Roses" video game. The announcer's voice is only a male voice this year, and it sounds rather unexcited and not too interested in what's going on. Controls are the same as previous games-generally solid whether you use a DDR dance pad (sold separately or available as a bundle with the game for about $25 more) or a regular Xbox controller-but there still are some issues with responsiveness from before...sometimes you'll press a direction on the D-Pad or matching button and the game says you didn't or it will fail to recognize the input. It won't happen often but it is very frustrating when it does. Gameplay hasn't changed much from before-the main objective is still to watch the arrows and when it passes over a step zone, step on the corresponding step at just the right time. 2 new additions to this year's game are Quest Mode & Jukebox Mode. Quest Mode is almost an RPG of sorts, where you guide your oh-so-cute big-headed dancer across the continent dancing in various cities and buying items. At first it sounds interesting and has some playabliity, but it also can be difficult to figure out how it works and the gameplay gets stale very quickly. Jukebox Mode is nothing more than a way to listen to the music without playing the actual game, and has little to no value. The game also has the usual assortment of multiplayer games for up to 4 players, Training Mode for improving your skills, Edit Mode for making your own custom step patterns, and expanded Xbox Live functionality-you can still play online and upload/download content, but this version will also feature free downloads and is compatible with all song packs from Ultramix 1 & 2. The offline game itself boasts at least 71 songs in all, but only 56 are available at first, you have to unlock the rest through gameplay. Also added this year was the popular "Oni/Challenge" difficulty level for selected songs, which will challenge experts and frustrate beginners. But even with this addition, the overall skill level of the songs is rather low compared to previous games, so while beginners will do fine, experts and arcade veterans may find this one to be a bit too easy, despite the inclusion of 2 or 3 very difficult arcade songs.
While this UM is still a good game and takes a step forward from the previous versions, it also seems to take 2 steps back with minimal improvements/modifications to gameplay and a less-than-stellar song list this time around. Hardcore DDR fans probably won't be bothered by this and should still invest the $40 for this title, but more casual fans may want to get UM1 or 2 first, or save up for Pump It Up: Exceed instead, especially if gameplay is more important than extras & gimmicks.