This is the one time where I will start a review off by a recommendation: 1.) if you like Dance Central - buy this, 2.) if you are a Black Eyed Peas fan - buy this.
Now let's get objective.
I had bought this game purely on one review where the reviewer himself was surprised at just how much he enjoyed the game. As I had bought Michael Jackson the Experience and quickly grew tired of it as it was not very helpful in teaching you anything and that the songs got way too difficult to soon, I was very skeptical...but nonetheless, seems I had money to burn on this title.
Black Eyed Peas The Experience is naturally all about the Black Eyed Peas and there top hits, plus a few misses. There are essentially two modes: the first allowing you to get right into the dance, and the second that's more like a campaign mode. The best is of course to go for the second, as this is where you'll find all the info, venues and tutorials. Jump ahead and start your career and get to choose the first song you want to have a go at. Songs are rated at 4 difficulty levels beginning at casual and ending at skilled. Naturally you'll choose the casual ones first.
Once you've made your choice things start to get different - and intersteting - compared to Dance Central. This game essentially has 9 dance moves for each song. And these 9 moves are group by threes into three sessions. When you begin your first song, there will be 3 Steps. Step 1 starts with teaching you the first 3 moves. If you cannot get the move right, you simply raise your hand and it will go into a tutorial. The turorial I find is so far the best thing on the dance-Kinect market. Not only do they slow it down, but the narrator clearly explains to you which foot goes out first, which hand/arm does what and how you should execute the move. Even moves I got right from the bat I slowed down just to make sure I was following correctly. When you want to go back, you raise your hand again and the tutorial will continue. The 3 moves in Step 1 you have to learn are repeated twice and then it's kind of a mix-up "challenge" at the end. Passing Step 1 means you go on to Step 2 where it's the same thing: 3 moves, twice to practice and then to execute. I like this method of teaching as it really drills it into you and you do not feel overwhelmed by too many new moves. Finally, after completing Step 3 the entire song is available for you to dance.
During the tutorial sessions there are coaches on screen teaching you the move. Your avatar is reflected mirror-like on the TV. When it comes to the entire song, your crew is the Black Eyed Peas. Only point to note is unlike other dancing games at the moment, for some reason if you do the move wrong, you avatar won't show/tell you what/where you did wrong. This could be problematic for some who relies a lot on that corrective feedback, like in Dance Central. There is also no insert showing whether Kinect picks you up or not, something that does not distract me, but again may hinder others.
So, the campaign mode follows that method: choose a song, go through Step 1~3 and then perform it. There are mega things to be awarded like clothes for your avatar and upgrades to the interior design of your virtual venue. You'll also be given challenges every now and again by the crew of the Black Eyed Peas which you can accept to unlock even more stuff.
Co-op in dancing Kinect games seem to be the norm nowadays and the same for this game. A second person can easily jump in and be part. There are some sync bonuses when you and your partner are dancing 100% in sync. Another feature is the ability (like in Just Dance 3) to create your own choreography and share it via Xbox Live with friends for challenges. Nifty.
The presentation of the game on a whole is very energetic and vivid. Colours are very shiny and it's a game that make you feel that there's indeed a party going on.
- avatar does not show when you make a mistake or which part is wrong
- no small screen indicating whether Kinect is actually picking you up
- a little too many "awards" and Black Eyed Peas info blips between songs that slows down the tempo a bit
- to change the gamer profile when you switch dancers is really obscurely hidden (but it's there at least)
- for some reason the Kinect microphone does not work with game (or is that just me) - you need to get a wireless microphone
+ great song list - you know who they are so you know what you are getting, and all the favourites are there
+ very vibrant and energetic presentation
+ great tutorials in slow it down mode
+ co-op play works like a charm
+ opportunity to create your own moves and share with friends
+ tracking seems to be good and most of the moves are easily picked up
I have been wondering if there is an alternative to the Kinect-dancing games than Dance Central 2, and I have to praise the developer for The Black Eyed Peas The Experience in trying something different, and that it actually works. There may be some that still prefer a different approach, but this is by far the first title than can actually compete with Dance Central. This is lightyears better than the previous Michael Jackson effort, and I actually hope that we will see more games like that, probably from others like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and maybe even David Guetta. The benefit of focusing on just one artist it seems to me is that you know the music beforehand and there is very little disappointment with the setlist. On the other hand, by doing it this way, you also limit yourself to no future releases of the same artist, as it will take another 10 years minimum before Black Eyed Peas will have enough hits again to make a second game. This means that upgrades and improvement in technology (like the tracking) cannot benefit this game, unless they keep on releasing patches for the game. The publisher, Ubisoft, will have to consider using this format they've got here for The Black Eyed Peas for a more general game with a mixed tracklist.
The game is not perfect yet. It can still learn from other features like creating your own playlist or a sweat-mode. Sometimes one just wants to pop in a game and dance, and not have to navigate every 2~4 minutes through all the menus to the next song.
Having said this much, I am extremely happy with this buy. It's one of the surprises Kinect had to offer in the last two months, and it's one worth all its weight in gold. To reiterate my recommendation above: if you like Dance Central, you will like this. If you like Black Eyed Peas, you will like this even better.