Michael Jackson: The Experience – The good

  • A lot of people have requested MJ for DC, so this may satisfy their needs until then
  • Ubisoft integrated the beginning and majority of the effects from the music videos, so you are theoretically, dancing in the music video
  • Overall detection is well, voice recognition works well also
  • All tracks are masters so they sound excellent

Michael Jackson: The Experience – The not so good

  • There’s no objectives to it, except to keep practicing to do better
  • Choreography is not exact, also not a superb tracklist
  • Singing…not sure why this was put in, I go into details below
  • Learning curve is not easy at all compared to DC

Michael Jackson: The Experience – Story
No story mode, no career, nadda…you pick a song and dance…that’s about it.

Michael Jackson: The Experience – Kinect experience
Kinect works well with it, as Ubisoft Montreal does know what they are doing. It’s basically a Your Shape interface, enhanced for the MJ experience. The thing they added was voice recognition, which Your Shape does not feature. It works well, except when there is a LOT of background (yelling kids and wife, tv up loud in the other room, etc) then it doesn’t quite pick up your pitch.

For the dancing portion of the game, it works mostly well. It tracks as well as it does in Your Shape, however you can still half ass moves if you want…they don’t have to be 100% perfect since there is no limb detection like DC has. I’d say the dancing detection is on par with Zumba. You also don’t have to be on beat, I was in the learning phase of doing the dances and about a measure off from the backup dancers and it was still giving me perfects on moves. One note, you do need a little bit of room with this. It uses a square just as Your Shape does to define your play area, and it uses most of it.

The singing portion works, that’s all I can really say about it for Kinect. From my tweaking with it, it is just listening for your pitch as you can say whatever you want but as long as you have the right pitch/tempo then it says its ok (example, I was singing Wierd Al’s “Eat It” to Beat it and I got 4 stars)

Overall, hardware wise there shouldn’t be many complaints about Kinect not detecting, etc etc like people have with DC.

Michael Jackson: The Experience – Graphics
The graphics are ok, nothing amazing. Some of the intro’s to the songs are subpar….the motion recorded dancers though look way better than Zumba and the Just Dance series.

Michael Jackson: The Experience – Gameplay
Ok onto the fun part first. The dancing in the game has you doing a majority of the basic MJ moves, the songs are not 100% accurate choregraphy to the real songs, however its mostly there.

The MJ School is a joke, go buy a “Dance Like MJ” teacher video if you want to save some money, it’s basically watch the moves, then do it along with them. Pretty much 90% of the Dance DVDs that are out there now, so nothing special here.

Now when you choose a song (mind you the setlist has about 50% of tracks that aren’t as popular as the rest), you are given 3 or 4 options depending on the song. First is practice, basically you are not scored and it just runs through sections of the song, which gets really annoying trying to use your hand to select Verse A for example…I think they borrowed this from the Rock Band series since you can really break it down to individual sections on a song, such as Chord A, Riff 1, Chorus 2, etc…

Practice did nothing for me in all reality, its a clunky system that could use some improvements.

Next is the dancing only portion…I forgot what it’s named since I’m doing this from memory Smile This just lets you dance to the entire song, albeit, not all of the real moves, however its still fun. There is some wierdness that I didn’t read the manual or if its even stated, there’s certain sections in songs where you have to match MJ’s pose…doing so makes a silhouette of him appear in that pose and you get bonus. There’s some wierd swirlys which I have tried everything (Ooohing like MJ, crotch grabbing, moonwalking, spinning, etc) during it in between dance moves, and couldn’t figure it out. There’s also a Kings Crown in each song that shows up once which gives you 8x multiplier I believe. This doesn’t work all the time, you have to hit it but I think you have to do it in sync with dancing moves as I just tried hitting it randomly and it was like I was being teased because it kept moving up everytime I reached for it.

Now, this is where my gripe comes in with the dancing. As you all know from my reviews, I’ve played every dancing game out there, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I stated, the practice is useless, and I learn from doing in full swing (same with DC, I didn’t use Break It Down mode until I wanted the achievements). So to learn the moves while performing, its literally a pain in the ass.

First, there are cue cards in the lower right of the screen, which also give you the measures on how long to do them for…this is all fine, as when you do the moves, you’ll start remembering what cue card is what move. The problem I had with it is you have to follow your backup dancers unless you know the move. Well, there’s 2 of them. One on the left of your projected self, and one of the right. The one on the right is useless because he/she gets hidden behind cue cards, scores, effects, etc…so you have to follow the one on the left. Now the problem with it, is you have your cue cards on one end of the screen and your dancer on the other. Unless your eyeballs can go outwards in both directions, it’s really hard to focus on the move and and then to see what move is coming up or what move that you were doing looks like on a cue card. It works so well in DC because you got a huge character on screen and the cue cards are right next to it…DC also gives you future preview, MJ only has one card of what’s next.

So that’s my only issue with dancing, other than that it’s pretty fun. Also not all of the songs have dancing…I noticed this with The Way You Make Me Feel, I know it’s a graphic dance routing (not really for kids in that sense) but they completely removed it from the game… Next is the performance mode aka Karaoke mode. You just sing…fairly straight forward, this mode is fine if you want to sing like MJ…

Lastly, is master performance. I found this mode completely stupid to be blunt. There’s only a handful of artists in the world that can sing and dance at the same time, if you never tried it, it’s very hard. The music videos you watch are all BS, edited and made to look good. MJ was one of the few known artists that could dance and sing live and not overdo himself in the process. The way they set it up is, you dance a little, you sing a little, you dance a little, you sing a little. The mode is seriously useless, now to help with people trying to master singing and dancing at the same time, they should of put the real deal in it.

Michael Jackson: The Experience – Multiplayer options
There is a battle mode, however I did not test it out.

Conclusion
Overall, its a neat game. Not sure if it was rushed as well since it was pushed back, but it needs a lot of work. You don’t make a game on a #1 artist and have it be subpar. Maybe if Ubisoft would stop trying to work on so many games at once, they could put more effort into one game. There is a lot of potential but I doubt anyone will revisit a MJ game ever again unfortunately so in my favorite phase, It is what it is…


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Michael Jackson: The Experience
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?