Reviewed: October 3, 2008
Released: September 23, 2008
Buzz!, the videogame quiz show, has been around for several years now on the PS2, and only now is it making its way to the next-gen PS3 and even the PSP for some portable trivia action. Trivia games are immensely popular ever since Trivial Pursuit turned the quest for knowledge into cool fun rather than boring education. For more than two decades friends and families have gathered together to test each other’s knowledge on the most mundane of facts, so it was only natural that this get carried over into video games.
Buzz! is relatively unchallenged in its genre. The last trivia games I played were Trivial Pursuit Unhinged in 2004 on the Xbox, and more recently, Scene It on the Xbox 360, but the latter is more of a focused title targeted at movies and DVD’s. Buzz! is all-encompassing in its subject matter, and will test the knowledge of players from all age groups and levels of education.
Buzz! Quiz TV takes trivia to the next-generation, not only in its glistening high-tech presentation, but also with several new features that the previous versions have lacked and gamers have been clamoring for such as wireless buzzers and online multiplayer.
Buzz! Quiz TV is essentially a video game masking as a game show, or perhaps it’s the other way around. Either way, you have a wacky host that looks like a South Park Canadian, and voiced by Jason Donovan, and there is a wide selection of iconic and stereotypical characters to choose from as your virtual contestants.. Fans of the previous games will be glad to know all your favorite games modes are back including; Fastest Finger, Pie Fight, Short Fuse, and High Stakes.
The PS3 version of Buzz! offers 5,000 questions spread across categories like music, sports, movies, TV, lifestyle, and even a brainiac selection of questions to test the truly educated. During the pre-game setup you can choose to filter questions from any of these categories or put them all into play and have each contestant choose a section for each round.
The game hasn’t even been out for more than a few weeks and they already have 3 downloadable question packs available on the PlayStation Store. I passed on the National Geographic Safari questions, but I was compelled to immediately purchase the Sci-Fi Movies and Videogames bundles at $6 per 500-question pack. Be warned that the Video Game question pack is heavily biased toward Sony titles…no real shocker, but it can be a bit unfair if you have people over to play that are more into Xbox or Nintendo.
Buzz! plays out differently depending on whether you are playing alone, with friends locally, or in the online Sofa Battle mode. It is incredibly simple to setup a game in less than a minute. The online connectivity is fast and, so far, flawless. My only complaint with online multiplayer is that you cannot have two or three people on one PS3 playing one or two people on another. If you are doing a four-person Sofa vs. Sofa it has to be four sofas and four PS3’s. I supposed if you have more than one person on a PS3 you can form a team and all work together, but it would have been nice to have more customization in creating the online matches.
Buzz! is the perfect game for expanded content. In addition to the aforementioned trivia bundles, there is already a free update that expands the number of contestants to 15, adds new costumes, and allows for customizing categories. I expect the library of questions to grow greatly over time as well as fresh new game modes and content via the PS Store.
Thankfully, Buzz! doesn’t make you wait for Sony to post new content. You can create your own questions using the MyBuzz! feature that allows you to create and share your own 8-question quizzes with other players around the world. This requires a bit of work, first by going to MyBuzzQuiz.com and following the easy steps to create a category, questions, and the answers (including the wrong ones). Once you have finalized your quiz you can test it out online or access it directly with Buzz! on the PS3.
While you cannot use custom quizzes for online play you can use them in solo and local multiplayer, and the Quiz TV offers fantastic search modes to access other players’ questions and even filter by your friends list and create favorites. The only drawbacks to these custom questions are in the presentation. Obviously, the host cannot read your questions aloud, and all custom question games will be in the form of Stop the Clock, but it is still cool to see something you created as part of a major game. Once you have completed a MyBuzz! Quiz you get to vote on the quality of the quiz which is averaged into an overall rating of one to four stars.
Get Your Buzz Face On supports the PlayStation Eye in that the game will detect the camera and take snapshots of the players and post them to a photo album. You can browse these photos later and even export them to your XMB photo section or download them to a memory stick and use anyway you want. My only complaint here is that 95% of my gaming is done in the dark so unless I scramble to turn on the light (and then we are all squinting), these photos are usually too dark and subsequently deleted. Perhaps they could flash the screen to total white and light up the room a bit before we all yell, “Sausages!”
Buzz! supports Trophies but earning them is more about endurance than skill. The only real challenging trophy is the one that requires you to score 5,000 points or higher in a single player game. This not only requires you to answer every single question in a single game correctly, you have to buzz in within 1-2 seconds on all the questions since speed affects your score. I literally looped the entire Blockbuster movie question set trying to get this Trophy.
I would have liked more variety in the various game modes within the game. You get caught in the same pattern of events depending on if you are playing alone, with friends, or online. And in some modes like Pie Fight, it is all too easy to gang-up on a player and knock them out early.
The Buzz! controllers are pretty cool, with large colored buttons to navigate menus and pick answers and a giant red buzzer ball on the top. I was glad the controllers were wireless. This was a huge complaint from those who have played the game on the PS2, but I thought it was very cheap of Sony not to provide the 8 AA batteries required to use them. I can just see some kid getting this game as a present and not having any batteries lying around. I had to remove the batteries (that Microsoft provided) from my Xbox 360 Scene It game controllers just to play Buzz! out of the box without having to run to the store. Considering that every wireless game controller shipped in the past five years has come with batteries, this omission just felt cheap.
Another cheap move was not including any voice chat support either to taunt your opponents or team-up with your friends in the sofa matches. We ultimately opted for using cell phones with speaker mode turned on to correlate our answers when teaming up against online strangers. The multiplayer needs several such issues addressed, either in a patch or a sequel.
One doesn’t necessarily expect or even require awesome graphics for a trivia game, so when Buzz! Quiz TV launches with a high-energy opening movie fit for primetime viewing, followed by a gorgeous 3D living room menu environment, followed by a professional-style game show stage setting complete with lights, TV monitors, and a silhouetted audience, it only makes the game that much better.
Aside from a view questions that rely on photos, almost the entire game is comprised of CG elements, all rendered in gleaming 720p high-definition. The cast of contestants is as diverse as they are charming and hilarious. Some even border on the realm of naughtiness, at least when it comes to costume design. They all have humorous animations and expressions that you can trigger by hitting the various colored buttons, and while nobody talks, they do emote with various sound effects.
The game explodes onto the screen with energetic game show theme music worthy of a major network production. You have some easy listening in the menus followed by standard quiz show themes throughout the game that encourage a certain level of tension.
While the players don’t speak the host doesn’t shut-up, which is a shame because his shtick is rather limited and you will start hearing his same quips and one-liners over and over within a few games, sometimes even within the same game.
The biggest challenge any game like Buzz! faces is repetition, and while it took me more than 20 games to get the Blockbuster question set to loop, I don’t think anyone will be running out of fresh quiz material anytime soon. With 5,000 questions and 1,500 others already available via the PS Store, plus the bottomless well of user-created questions, there is no end in sight for Buzz!
I supposed $60 is a reasonable asking price for Buzz!, since it does come with four wireless controllers (albeit no batteries…yeah…that’s right…I’m still mad about that). Judging from the cost of the core game and the expansions, the going rate for trivia seems to be 1.2 cents per question. Now, if only I could get somebody to pay me for my custom questions…
Buzz! Quiz TV is going to provide countless hours of educational fun for you, your entire family, and a group of friends that will surely increase in size once they learn you have this game. The only other game that can hope to compete is Scene It and that’s only available on that other system, and has a much more narrow focus of questions.
Whether you are playing alone, challenging friends, or boasting your superior knowledge to strangers online, you won’t find a more delightful and engaging trivia game for the PS3 or any system for that matter. It doesn’t get any better than Buzz! Quiz TV.
--- Expansion Update: 2/2/09 ---
Sony has just released the American Culture Quiz Pack for Buzz! Quiz TV that includes 500 questions that probe into the hidden depths of...you guessed it...American culture. This is the seventh expansion to the interactive trivia game that challenges family, friends, and even strangers to questions ranging from pop-culture, U.S. History, and even a strong dose of politics. The range of questions is impressive and will challenge young and old alike. I only wished they had added some visual content; perhaps some of those colonial white wigs or some historical costumes.
As it is, for $6 you get 500 more questions to add to your growing library, and these questions will educate while they entertain. Sony is determined to keep Buzz! Quiz TV in your PS3 for a long time to come, and with expansions like these, they will. A solid recommendation for anyone with kids, or those looking for a refresher on American history and culture. Great stuff as always.