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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Special Editions + DLC (Xbox 360)

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Special Editions is an oddity. Here’s a truth about video games: nine out of ten games based on game shows are crap shovelware. Anyone who has played a video game version of Deal or No Deal or The Price is Right would know that.

The problem is that these games don’t actually offer a cash reward, and therefore there’s little point to playing the game; it’s the potential to win or lose money that makes these games compelling.

That said, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire works. It’s little more than a trivia game, where answering 15 questions right “wins” you the game, but showing off how awesome you are at trivia is just enough to make the game worthwhile.

The game tries to recreate the experience of being on the real show. With each question you’ll be presented with four possible answers. Get one right, and you’ll win the virtual money and get to play the next question. Each question gets harder, but wins more money. Get one wrong, and you lose a lot of money and it’s game over.

There are three “lifelines” designed to help you out if a question stumps you. 50/50 cuts two of the three incorrect answers out, leaving one right and one wrong answer to guess between. Ask the audience gives the virtual audience a chance to “vote” on which answer they think is right – but be careful, like in real life, the virtual audience is prone to being stupid and suggesting the wrong answer.

The third lifeline is “call a friend,” and as you won’t be calling a real friend, the game simulates an “um” and “ah” conversation and presents you with recommended answer. Again, they could be wrong.

There’s no time limit on answering questions, so if you wanted to, Google could get you through the game easily. Assuming you’re not the cheating type, the questions can get very difficult, and earning the virtual million is indeed an accomplishment.

There’s also multiplayer thrown in. It’s a little on the dull side to work as a party game – one person plays at a time, the winner is the person with the most money after everyone’s had a go, but I’d be remiss to say I didn’t think there was a crowd that would find this game fun in social groups. After all, pub trivia nights have remained a constant favourite for year after year.

Even better, and where this game becomes really worthwhile, is in the DLC packs. It’s possible to expand out the question ranges through cheap downloads that cover topics such as movies, sports and even the likes of South Park. If you play fairly regularly then you will start seeing some repeat questions, so the DLC is a good way to extend the longevity of the game.

For obvious reasons, those DLC packs are only going to appeal to fans of the topic. I’m not a massive fan of South Park, for instance, and I struggled to get anywhere with that one. I am however a virtual millionaire thanks to the movie quiz.

Unfortunately the developers have not taken these themed packs quite as far as they could have. It would have been awesome for clips from the shows, or movies, to pop up before the questions, like they do in rival trivia games such as Buzz! or Scene It? Comparatively, the simple text Q & As might be thought provoking, but they’re not going to get the adrenaline or laughter going either. As a result, even with the fun of South Park as a theme, this is a serious business game for serious trivia players.

And that’s really what lets Who Wants To Be A Millionaire down in the long run: it’s the presentation presentation. The host of the show is a plastic model with catchphrases I can count on one hand, and a stilted delivery that is more uncomfortable in pauses than accurate to a game show. The environment itself is as plain as can be, and while the menus are clean, they’re not exactly awe inspiring.

But then, you’re not playing a trivia game for explosions. You’re playing for interesting, well-researched questions and a bit of friendly competition with friends. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire succeeds at that, and trivia buffs ought to get a kick out of this one.

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Review: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Special Editions + DLC (Xbox 360)
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