It's good fun too, moving on at a fair pace, albeit interspersed by some overly laborious cut-scenes and scripted responses that become tiring very quickly. Due to the huge number of questions in the game--over 100,000--you're also left with Anne asking things such as "Which of these is the correct answer?", rather than the more personal touch of Eidos' Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. Yet this is still undeniably strong entertainment, with some interesting options to help prolong the game's life. Oh, and multiplayer (with up to seven players supported) is a hoot. Which all means that if you're looking for a new game for the family to play, this is a stronger title than you might expect. Just don't let Anne scare you off... --Simon Brew
The biggest surprise is how well the format stands up. Let's face it, nobody watches TWL for the game itself, they just watch for the banter, the jokes, and the toe-curling anticipation of seeing a contestant get berated for getting a question ludicrously wrong. It comes as quite a surprise that the game itself is great fun to play.
As the other reviewers have said, the presentation of the game is spot on, with an exact (if slightly grainy) copy of the opening and closing sequences, and all the in-game music. The representation of the studio is superb, complete with sinister looking audience gazing in from the darkness. Wisely, the Anne figure is only seen from behind, avoiding the problem of an unrealistic host.
Certain changes are made, however, which detract from the authenticity, most of which are there to cut down on the amount of speech required. Minor niggles include the constant repetition of phrases like "In sport, select the right answer", and the fact that the contestants don't say who they've nominated - instead the name just appears on their screen while voiceover man (Jon Briggs? or is that the US version?) reads them out. More mysteriously, why on Earth don't the last two contestants move to the middle podia for the final, like they do on TV?
The biggest difference as far as playing the game is concerned is that, by accident or design, one of the main dilemmas of the TV show, whether to bank or try to answer the question, is lost due to the fact that you are able to bank money long after reading the question. This can't possibly be in the "spirit" of the game, and as much as you convince yourself that you aren't going to take advantage of this flaw, you always do in the end.
When you first play the game, you'll love sitting back between rounds and hearing the automated Anne insult the players, but it won't be long before you realise that each character is woefully short of words and sometimes repeat their little speeches during a single game. Worse still, you can't skip these sections and have to sit there while you hear the same exchange you've heard a million times before. To make things worse, the game often switches between rounds to film of the real Anne Robinson at her podium insulting players or introducing the next round. Although you can skip these, it takes so long to load these films, that you soon get annoyed at the amount of time being wasted.
On the plus side, plenty of effort has been put into the single player game, with each computer-controlled player having their own characteristics, like the annoying bloke who banks at every opportunity, regardless of how little money there is in the chain. Similarly, the players all have their unique speech patterns and accents - although, being from Walsall, I must say the Austin's Walsall accent is awful!
You can't help feeling, though, a little bored in the early rounds due to the fact that there is so long between you questions. It does, though, give a good impression of what it must be like on the show - even with pretend money, you sit there getting angry at the other players for getting easy questions wrong, and banking too early, and get annoyed when you can answer everyone else's questions, but not your own. The "ladder" system of starting on a version of the show where top prize is £20,000 (why not £10,000?), and working up to the million pound version is good, and in keeping with the TWL spirit, no congratulations are offered when you win the final show.
Personally, I find the multiplayer game most fun, even if you play alone. As a pure quiz, you can play the game "being" all players and see how much you can make, or by taking control of half the team, and seeing whether the computer players beat you. This way, you get all the fun of the game, without the annoyance of waiting an eternity for your next question.
A previous review mentioned never getting bored of answering the same questions, but I beg to differ. As an example, I was once asked "Which of these Snooker players won 6 world championships?" - answer Steve Davis. Later in the game, I'm asked "How many world Snooker championships has Steve Davis won?". As much as I admire old Romford Slim, it's annoying that I seem to get some variation on this question every time I play.
In the end, the game is a truly admirable attempt to convey the TV show, and much better than I expected, but is badly let down by the awful slow pace of the game, a flaw which could so easily have been rectified by allowing us to speed things up between rounds. If it were a case of "time up, vote, walk of shame, let's play the Weakest Link", I'd be recommending the game without reservation. As it is, it's frustratingly slow, particularly in the later, shorter rounds where you spend more time sitting though the set-scenes than you do playing.
The game itself is immensely enjoyable, far more so that Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, but it comes with too much baggage to really make it worth persevering. Shame.
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