The Black Eyed Peas. Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying their popularity, or success. Garnering more than fifty million albums sold and numerous awards and accolades, the pop/hip hip group has accomplished a lot in the sixteen years they have been together. As such, it comes as little surprise to find them headlining their own dance game. Coming from Ubisoft, the publisher who is probably the most deeply involved in the genre, with Just Dance, Just Dance Kids, and Michael Jackson under their belt, to name a few, will it prove to be a worthy effort?
To be honest, I was a little surprised with BEP Experience. Typically, branded music games like this are...oh...how should I put this...cash-ins? Rarely are they up to the caliber of the more broad-based products like Just Dance or Dance Central. But BEPE came in with a solid track line-up, entertaining modes, and a presentation that fits the group to a T. If it wasn’t for some technical issues, this could have elevated itself beyond its mainstream cousin, Just Dance 3.
The Black Eyed Peas Experience offers quite a bit in terms of content, at least by comparison to the average dance game. Dance Party is your typical exhibition mode, letting players pick from any of the 30 on-disc tracks and dance their hearts out. The track list includes both big hits and some of the group’s more obscure work, and should please both the hardcore and casual fans alike. As far as the gameplay is concerned, it falls firmly in the Just Dance camp, which isn’t surprising, and tasks players to match their moves up with their on-screen counterparts. You may not get to actually embody your favorite group member, but you do get to perform along with them during their shows.
BEP Experience also supports up to four dancers in cooperative multiplayer. Although, I have to admit, it wasn’t initially obvious that my friends and family could join in. Once we figured it out, it was fun channeling our inner Pea, getting our grove on to Boom Boom Pow or Don’t Phunk With My Heart. Also, there’s vocal support, which again, I stumbled on by accident. I was working one of the early routines and happened to be singing along when apparently Kinect picked it up. WHen the song was done, I even had an achievement pop for having a vocalist. This quickly became one of my favorite aspects as I love to sing along while I’m dancing (ok, flailing).
"If you are a fan, and can tolerate the inaccurate body sensing, then you’ll find a lot to enjoy here."
While the Wii version of the game stops with Dance Party (you can see Frosty’s review here), this one has a whole other segment, dubbed the Deluxe Experience, and really, this is where the package begins to strut it’s stuff. Broken down into three parts, the Experience is where the real meat of the game can be found. The campaign offers the opportunity to go on tour with the Black Eyed Peas, traveling from venue to venue, completing routines to songs unique to each one. Success adds followers, and followers unlocks additional goodies for your character, such as clothing and accessories. Just as the Crew Challenge mode in Dance Central 2 added a little something with the concept of a progressive campaign, BEP’s campaign accomplished the same thing, and is more engaging than just jumping into Dance Party and picking tracks. Additionally, each song is broken down into three parts, before moving into the full routine. While not necessarily a direct tutorial, it does help teach each routine in segments, a feature that I was personally disappointed not to find in Just Dance 3.
One feature that the dance genre has yet to work into the routine, so to speak, is a create-your-own-choreography mode. BEPE brings this to the fold and it works really well. Jump in the “Choreo-Maker”, pick your song, and then you are off and running. There’s a list of preset moves to choose from, or if you have one in particular in mind, then dance it and the game will pick the closest matches to what you are doing. Each routine can hold up to 32 different moves, making it a great way to flex those creative muscles. Routines can then be saved so you can come back to them later.
The presentation adds a vibe to the experience that suits the titular super-group well. The digital versions of Fergie, will.i.am, apl.de.ap, and Taboo look splendid, and mirror their real-life counterparts perfectly, both in appearance and movement. The set pieces are full of vibrant colors and shining lights, and when combined with the thumping beats of the music, you can’t help but get immersed within it. The menus are easy to navigate (unlike the touchiness of Just Dance 3’s UI) and show bits of the album artwork associated with each track, which is a nice touch.
Unfortunately, for all The Black Eyed Peas experience brings to the proverbial table, technical issues put a grey cloud over head. Many times I found my movements being incorrectly recognized, either to my benefit, or detriment. Initially, I thought the game was being too forgiving, giving me credit for moves I know I didn’t perform. But as time went on, I found other instances where I know I nailed the move, yet was still marked off for it. It doesn’t matter how robust your feature set is, if the game can’t read your body properly, it is hard to take any enjoyment out of it.
I can’t come out singing the praises of The Black Eyed Peas Experience, simply because of the frequent control issues alone. However, it does arrive with a decent suite of modes, a great presentation, local multiplayer support and a nicely varied track list. For obvious reasons, if you don’t like the Black Eyed Peas catalog, you’ll probably want to pass this one up. But, if you are a fan, and can tolerate the inaccurate body sensing, then you’ll find a lot to enjoy here. Just don’t come in expecting the best dance game Kinect has to offer. That title still sits on someone else’s shelf...
Release date : 2011-11-08
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Ubisoft
Gameplay : Music,Tempo, Dance
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