While many titles claim to be the ultimate in party games, Buzz! Quiz World absolutely lives up to the hype. Debuting on the Playstation 2 in 2005, the Buzz! Series has spawned an amazing ten titles so far, with five more in the Buzz! Junior franchise. Buzz! Quiz World is the 15th Buzz title in the series to be released, easily making it the most prolific of the party/trivia games out there today.
Developed by Relentless Software and published by Sony, the Buzz! game series has managed to cover every current Playstation platform from PS2 and PS3 to PSP and even includes a presence on Playstation Home. The Playstation Home area is rather unique, as it includes Buzz! Studio, where players can compete with up to 63 other people. Buzz! Quiz World also supports game launching from Playstation Home, allowing users to connect with other people and then launch the game.
Beginning with Buzz! Quiz TV in 2008 and continuing with Buzz! Quiz World, the graphics have shown a much-needed improvement on the Playstation 3. The game world is presented as a cartoony game show studio, with an over-the-top announcer that brings back fond memories of Smash TV. While the graphics won’t blow you away, they do present a sharp, slick view of the studio for a game show and make the experience that much more enjoyable.
The real stars of the graphics are the avatars that you are able to choose from to represent you in the game. Ranging from a mime to a super hero, and covering everything in between, all the characters look great. Each of the characters has several unique animations that are all quite amusing. Seeing the super hero strike a pose and flex when he gets a question right or watching the sci-fi villain cackle menacingly while floating in the air just never gets old.
While the voice work for the avatars is extremely limited, consisting mostly of
laughing or making threatening noises, the show’s host (named Buzz strangely
enough…) is extremely well done. “Combining the sleazy charm of a Richard Dawson along with all the condescension of an Alex Trebek, Buzz comes off perfectly”offering a constant stream of patter
that moves the game right along. New in this version of Buzz! is the
ability of the host to address each player by name. Don’t get too excited
though, this is limited to a set of pre-defined names that you can choose from
when you create your avatar.
While they may seem gimmicky, the dedicated Buzz controllers fulfill their function admirably. Addressing some of the complaints that gamers had brought up in earlier iterations, you’re now able to back up the menu tree and skip some of the animations if you so desire. You can also use the controller between rounds of questions to trigger various character animations, letting you have your character taunt the other players, cheer, or just do a little dance by pressing any of the buttons.
That’s not to say that the controller is perfect by any means. While initially creating your character for gameplay, you use the large red button to confirm your choices, and also to select your style of gameplay. Other than that though, you never use the huge red button again. During a match all your answer choices are made by pressing one of the four colored buttons, ignoring the big red one completely. This isn’t a huge issue at all, but it does make the configuration of the controller and the way it is used seem kind of strange. You’ll also need to go back to your Sixaxis controller once it’s time to end your game or eject your game disc, as you can’t access the cross-media bar using the Buzz controllers.
Starting a new game of Buzz! is quick and easy – all you have to do is make a few simple selections as to what your avatar looks like and you’re ready to play. While the game offers several different game modes to choose from, the standard game is easily the highlight of this title. The standard local multiplayer game can be played by anywhere from two to eight players, but you’ll need to purchase a second set of four Buzz! controllers to handle eight people locally. Strangely enough, the local multiplayer has six rounds of questions in it while the online multiplayer only has five.
The first round in every standard game is Point Builder; each of the questions in Point Builder does not have a time limit, easing people into the game. The questions are broken down into roughly ten different categories, including music, movies, sports, etc. Buzz will randomly pick one person to pick the first category of questions. These categories are further broken down into sub-genres, so for example you could have 70’s music or college sports as one of your four initial choices.
After the Point Builder round, Buzz will randomly choose one of the other round types to challenge. The round types have a great variety, mixing in speed rounds (Fastest Finger) and even having rounds where you wager points based on the type of question that’s coming up (On The Stop). One of the more entertaining round types is Short Fuse. In Short Fuse, players play hot potato with a ticking bomb. Answer the question right and the bomb gets passed to the next person. Answer it wrong and the bomb stays with you until you get a question correct. Whoever is holding the bomb when time runs out gets blown up, losing some points.
The randomly chosen round types continue until the final round, know as The Final Countdown. One of the nice little touches in this game is the short sound bite you get of Europe’s The Final Countdown at the start of the round. In the Final Countdown, all the points you’ve accumulated translate into raising the platform your avatar is standing on. The more points you have, the higher your platform is raised. At this point, Buzz begins asking random questions of the whole group, not sticking to any one category. Speed is essential in this round; your platform slowly lowers the longer you take to answer the question. Answer the question correctly and it halts your downward progress, but get the wrong answer and you’ll lose even more height on your platform. As a bonus, if you’re the first person to answer right, your platform actually moves up. If you keep guessing wrong, your platform will eventually drop all the way down, dumping you into the pool of goo and eliminating you from the game. If you’re the last person standing, you’ve won the game.
There is a substantial variety of game modes to choose from if the standard layout just isn’t your cup of tea – you can play timed games, choose from all “wacky” rounds like Pie Fight and Short Fuse, or only “serious” rounds, like Boiling Point and On The Spot. Any way you slice it, there’s a ton of value and replay available with this title.
Multiplayer is definitely where Buzz hits its stride, and it is quite a stride. While the main game ships with somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 questions, at the time of this review there are an additional twelve “themed” question packs currently available for download. Ranging in topics from sports to sci-fi to National Geographic, you’re able to add 500 extra questions per question pack for a mere six to eight dollars.
Online and local multiplayer matches are extraordinarily easy to set up and join, and are great fun to play. While voice chat is still conspicuously absent, the ability to use your Playstation Eye accessory to snap random shots throughout the game is a great idea, making for some very funny (and embarrassing) moments. Don’t worry though; you have the final say on whether the photos get posted to your MyBuzz Profile Page or not!
With a huge amount of questions available, as well as a half dozen entertaining game modes to compete in, there is a ton of fun to be had with Buzz! Quiz World. Factor in the plethora of hysterical game avatars, the cheesy game show host, and the addicting gameplay, and you’ve got a winning combination. Buzz! Quiz World continues to improve and expand on its core gameplay, making for a fantastic title.