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Review: Michael Jackson: The Experience - Xbox 360, PS3

by Steven Williamson on 28 April 2011, 16:21 3.0

Tags: Ubisoft (LON:UBI), Simulation

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Can track voice with the Kinect microphone

The novelty of seeing yourself on screen with Kinect has recently begun to wear off slightly, but it’s still impressive seeing your full body gyrating to the tracks. Kinect also picks up your silhouette particularly well and places you on-screen as if you were actually there. That means, when you do get a dance move or routine spot on it's entertaining to see yourself on-screen playing the role of M.J. And when you get it wrong, it will probably provide plenty of amusement for anyone who's watching you. The problem is that rarely does it feel like you’re achieving anything in the game, or progressing anywhere – this is as casual a dance game as you’ll find. The only feedback you get is through a scoring system that flashes up ‘Good,’ ‘Perfect’ or ‘Awful' ratings, yet doesn’t take the time to show you where you went wrong or how to improve. Even the option to record your video and watch it back would have helped somewhat, but this game lacks some of the features that we've come to expect from games in 2011.

Furthermore, we’re not even sure that Kinect even rates you correctly. We managed to scramble our way through 'Smooth Criminal' with all the grace of an elephant yet still didn’t fair too badly in the scoring - getting ranked as ‘Good’ when our moves only loosely resembled those we were supposed to follow. Because of the complexity of some of Jacko’s moves, it seems that the difficulty level and the accuracy of Kinect has been stripped back so people don’t get too frustrated by low scores. This firmly pushes Michael Jackson: The Experience into the realm of casual party gaming; and while that's great for some, it's not what we hoped for.

In terms of overall content, Michael Jackson: The Experience is particular poor. Performance mode allows you to sing along while dancing, but you only get to sing a short section of each song and it only tracks your rhythm and not your pitch. That means you can just hum your way through easily and gain full marks – it’s a totally shallow and wasted feature, though we do like the fact that you don’t need to have a microphone but can use Kinect’s built-in mic to sing. The tutorials add some depth and there’s plenty to learn from some great dancers, but it rarely feels that practising was worth it when you play the game because the lack of feedback always ensures you really have no idea whether you pulled a move off correctly or not. On a postive note, co-op mode is a nice feature - and while it would have been nice to dance together rather than hop in and out of song - it’s really where you'll have the most fun with the game- with friends, dancing, while getting very drunk.

It’s quite clear that Michael Jackson: The Experience was created with simplicity in mind, probably to appeal to casual gamers who are just looking forward to jiving along with Jacko, rather than playing an game that has any substance. In that respect, it does what it says on the tin, but in quite unspectacular fashion. As fans of Jacko, and having played Dance Central and seen what can be done with the genre with The Beatle’s Rock Band, we can’t help but be disappointed with Michael Jackson: The Experience, which in no way, shape or form has rocked our world.

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