Michael Jackson: The Experience

REVIEW: Wacko for Jacko?

Much as we'd like to imagine we're capable of the kind of sizzling dance moves and gymnastic vocal performances as the now sadly departed King of Pop, in reality we're about as handy on the dancefloor as a tranquillised elephant, and our singing sounds like strangled bagpipes.

Fortunately for our high scores, while the moves and tunes themselves can be relatively complex, the detection in Michael Jackson: The Experience is forgiving like a patient parent, giving you a pat on the back even when you put in a distinctly un-Jacko performance.

The priority here is presentation rather than precision. Each song has its own arena, decorated in a style appropriate to the tune and rammed with screaming fans. You're then projected onto the stage and asked to keep up with a squad of backing dancers. The meat of the game is the dancing, and you can simply stick to that if you wish, but choose Performance mode and there'll be singing interludes.


At a very basic level both are fun simply because you're there, on stage, playing through such famous songs. You can't help but grin as you rise from a trapdoor in the stage in the Beat It environment to a baying crowd.

King of flop

Spend a bit of time with the game in an attempt to refine your scores, though, and the lack of sophistication begins to grate. The singing is the worst offender - not least because a quality karaoke game with this track listing would be hugely popular.

There's no option to sing entire songs, only the sections available in between dance routines in Performance mode. We're not surprised either, because the mechanic is so simplistic - there isn't even a Lips or Rock Band-style pitch line to stick to.

Similarly, if you are trying to perfect the choreography, the practice area pales in comparison to Dance Central's. This just bombards you with a sequence of moves and expects you to reproduce them - the implication is this stuff is easy. It isn't, otherwise we'd all be living in giant theme parks outside Santa Barbara.

So this isn't Dance Central and it certainly isn't Lips, but if you're firing it up for a party, Michael Jackson: The Experience is definitely enough to keep a gang of, preferably drunk, mates entertained - even if it is absolutely propped up by the undeniably stellar music and iconic dance routines.

These, in combination with competent execution, are enough for a broad recommendation, but there's an overwhelming feeling that this could have been so much more.

The verdict

Great music saves an average game

  • Brilliant soundtrack, obviously
  • Arenas are excellent
  • Both singing and dancing...
  • ...neither of which are exceptional
  • Rubbish practice mode
Xbox 360