Michael Jackson The Experience review

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Michael Jackson The Experience review

It’s tough to separate Michael Jackson from his music, so all but removing the King of Pop from a game devoted to his songs, dancing, and effortless charisma seems odd.

No other pop artist has such a wealth of dance-floor classics, and The Experience boasts all the hits you’d expect — from “Beat It” to “Bad” to lesser-known fare like “Dirty Diana” and “Sunset Driver.” Instead of replicating the many faces of Jackson throughout his astonishing career — like the game’s Wii version does, or the way The Beatles: Rock Band showed the band in various incarnations — The Experience takes MJ’s physical form almost completely out of the equation, replacing it with your own.

Using Kinect, The Experience projects your sparkling, color-tinged likeness in front of thousands of A.I. fans as a substitute for Jackson. This scenario might’ve made more sense if the game had a single-player career mode where you worked your way from small to large performance venues. But its solo section delivers no such progression, and, visually, it leaves you feeling like you’ve been badly Photoshopped into some fantastic scenery as a glittering ghost-blob, with generic, animated GIFs as backup dancers.

Though the game’s dance routines don’t feel as instantly accessible as those in Dance Central, running through the familiar, creepy-crawly choreography for a song like “Thriller” is a fun, easy sell. Other times, moves are recycled, and some — like the prolonged crotch thrust — really haven’t aged well.

The Experience lets you do more than dance, though. Some songs, like “Billie Jean,” give you the option to put the dancing on hold, sing verses, and then commence with the strutting for the chorus. Other times (as in “Heal The World”), all you do is sing, and you’re judged on the accuracy and timing of your lyrical delivery. Thankfully, you never dance and sing at the same time.

Your shimmering, amoebic avatar not withstanding, the game’s presentation can surprise. Some songs get detailed, even pretty thematic treatments, occasionally cribbing from the King of Pop’s own music videos. “Leave Me Alone,” for instance, places you in a carnival with dogs and monkeys in rocket ships.

Multiplayer lets you and up to three friends either break into teams of two for score battles or play cooperatively, sharing dancing and singing duties on songs. Even with four of you, though, you’ll still miss the one presence that’s in short supply: Michael Jackson.


PUBLISHER: Ubisoft  •  DEVELOPER: Ubisoft Montreal  •  ESRB: Everyone 10+  •  MULTIPLAYER: 4 on same console only  •  ACHIEVEMENTS: Difficult  •  COST: $50

On Xbox 360 (for Kinect only)

+ A real treat for those who want to learn some of MJ’s most famous dance routines.

+ A hefty, wide selection of the King of Pop’s undeniable jams.

- Not as instantly accessible as other dance titles for Kinect; missing the most compelling reason to own it: MJ himself.

? Hey, where’s Bubbles at?

6.0

 
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