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My housemate has recently purchased a Kinect for the Xbox 360 and to be honest, I think I've spent much more time playing on it than they have! I wanted to try it out and play a few different types of games so I could decide whether to get a Kinect for myself at some point, and I was really keen to play some dancing games. I bought The Black Eyes Peas Experience from www.amazon.co.uk for just £6.97, and the only real reason I chose this was because it was much cheaper than the Just Dance and Dance Central games series.
Product description: "Get the party started in your living room with the world's hottest group in the world's hottest new dance game. The Black Eyed Peas Experience features 30 chart topping tracks from the Black Eyed Peas - including all of the biggest hits that transformed them into a global phenomenon! Perform iconic dance moves alongside apl.de.ap, Fergie, Taboo and will.i.am with professional choreography designed exclusively for the group. Take the party worldwide and jump on tour to experience all the energy and unforgettable venues inspired by their shows and music videos. The Black Eyed Peas Experience is the ultimate dance game and the best way to keep the party rocking."
I do tend to have quite random and varied tastes when it comes to music, and although I do quite enjoy the Black Eyed Peas style of music I wouldn't say that I class myself as a fan, nor do I own any of their albums. The Black Eyed Peas Experience game features 30 songs by The Black Eyed Peas, so would be best suited to someone who is a fan of their music as there is no variety between different groups or genres. The idea of the game is that you follow The Black Eyed Peas around various clubs, joining them in a dance off where you will learn new dance steps that form a routine to each of the different songs. I found it very easy to get into the game and started playing straight away after I had chosen my avatar character. A good point about this game is that it tries hard to appeal to men as well as women (what with 3/4 of The Black Eyed Peas being male) and there is an even 50/50 split between male and female characters as you play through the game, learning and performing the moves.
Each track has a different difficulty level and is broken down into three sections where you will learn sets of moves before performing the whole routine at the end along to the full song. Loading screens feature facts about the band, which I found to be of little interest, but would appeal to someone who's more into their music than I am. You can stop the sections at any point to run through the individual moves with a choreographer providing instructions, which gives you more time to practice. I prefer to just run straight through and carry on, as there are several hints and cues to the moves which help you to see the correct positioning, timing, and transitions. The dance routines follow a hip hop / street style which fits in with The Black Eyed Peas songs. Although I did note a couple of my tried and tested favourite club moves amongst the routines, my overall feeling was "who the hell actually dances like this in real life?!". The moves are more a commercial style type of choreography- the sort of thing that you would see in their music videos or as part of their stage shows rather than on the dancefloor in a nightclub. I'm all for a little sexy dancing but in my opinion a lot of the moves were just really slutty, and I wouldn't recommend anyone to buy this game for their kids to play on due to the amount of thrusting involved! The dance routines are quite varied and are good fun to dance along to as they are fast-paced and energetic. I would say that you need to have a relatively good level of fitness to really enjoy the game and complete all the dance moves. It can be hard to keep up especially when switching between different moves, but after a few times of playing you can pick up on the format of the dance steps and it helps to keep an eye out to watch what the on-screen characters are doing. I appreciated the level of complexity in some of the moves, and was pleased to note that all the moves are unique and that each dance routine uses fresh moves, without having similar steps repeated to bulk out the routines.
There are several incentives to encourage you to complete the dance routines, such as gaining more "followers" which earns you accessories to customise your avatar character, and upgrades to unlock different club areas. As well as this mode, you can also create your own dance routines and mix it up with the moves that you've learned through the pre-set routines. The game suits solo play as you can follow the dance routines easily and it takes quite a lot of room to dance around in front of the Kinect sensor. I would recommend wearing comfortable, stretchy clothing and nothing too loose or baggy, so that the Kinect sensor can pick up on the body parts that it needs to recognise for performing the moves. The moves mainly go on hands and feet positioning, but some also involve the shoulders and knees. I find that most of the time it picks up the placement of my hands and feet correctly, but sometimes as I'm dancing around I move away from the direct line that sees my body position and it will lose track of the moves I'm performing, meaning that my avatar character flails around pathetically for a while until I step back into the correct place, and my score suffers as I'm missing recognition of the moves and losing out on points. You can also play this game with friends, there is an instant multiplayer mode that allows other people to jump in and join at any time as soon as the Kinect sensor registers them. An interesting feature of the multiplayer mode is that it not only includes dance, but you can have a second player join in and sing along with the lyrics as you perform the dance routine. I think this is pretty interesting as it adds a unique element that I had not expected to see, and while I'm busting some wicked cool dance moves, my friends can throw down some will.i.am style rapping and earn me extra bonus points! It gives a good all round experience and gets everyone involved, which is good if you have different strengths. I think I'm a pretty nifty dancer but I have no singing talents whatsoever, luckily my housemate is the opposite so we make quite a good team.
The only real down side to the game is that it does not really offer anything in the way of replay value. There are only so many times you can play along to the same songs by the same group before you want to spice it up with a bit of variety. This is somewhat addressed by the additional downloadable content that can be purchased through the Microsoft Marketplace. There are a further 12 songs that can be purchased either individually, or as "dance pack" bundles which give a slight reduction in cost over buying the tracks separately. There are more songs by The Black Eyed Peas and also a few other groups, mainly people who have connections to The Black Eyed Peas in some way, or collaborative efforts. For anyone who's competitive about their Xbox Live gamerscore (yes, that includes me - I have an ongoing challenge to stay ahead of my boyfriend!) this game gives a nice easy bundle of gamerpoints. Even on my first time of playing I earned 10 out of a possible 50 achievements, and all of them can be obtained by simply just playing through the game and not doing anything particularly difficult.
This is a great example of how the game developers have really thought about the ineraction through the Kinect sensor, and it makes a refreshing change from sitting down and playing with a standard handheld controller. As for dance mats (remember those?!) I think they are definitely relegated to being outdated gaming accessories compared to games like this that use the Kinect sensor to involve a range of full body movements. I can recommend The Black Eyed Peas Experience as I think it's excellent for the price and it is good fun if you like to dance and want to challenge yourself with a selection of fast and energetic dance routines.
Tracks included within the game:
Boom Boom Pow
Cali to New York
Don't Phunk With My Heart
Don't Stop The Party
I Gotta Feeling
Imma Be, and Imma Be fast version
Just Can't Get Enough
Let's Get It Started
Love You Long Time
Meet Me Halfway
Rock That Body
Smells Like Funk
Take It Off
The Best One Yet (The Boy)
The Time (Dirty Bit)
Additional tracks available as downloadable content:
Pon De Floor - Major Lazer
Nothing Really Matters - David Guetta
Mirrors - Natalia Kills
Where Is The Love - BEP
Bebot - BEP
Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO
Like A G6 - Far East Movement
Do It Like This - BEP
Don't Hold Your Breath - Nicole Scherzinger
Light Up The Night - BEP
Someday - BEP
They Don't Want Music - BEP