Whether we're keen to admitting it or not, movies play a very big role in almost everyone's life. We all have favorite films that have made us laugh, cry or think in new ways, and many of us quote particular lines with friends as inside jokes and ways to conjure up the memory of a shared experience. With this intrinsic power over our minds, a game that glorifies cinema and lets us relive some of the all-time greats would be a surefire hit and a must-own title. Sadly, Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! is not that game, but rather a shallow attempt to make a quick buck and fleece a lot of people out of some money. This is a game that's incredibly fun for about an hour, and then it starts to immediately wear thin.
This latest Scene It title follows the typical trivia game path, requiring players to choose the proper answer from a list of potential responses. Sometimes things are spiced up by adding in the need to buzz in first, but the core mechanics are the same cut-and-paste design you've already seen time and again. What does manage to earn the game a few brownie points is the way these questions are presented and the categories players will have to tackle. Movie Clip is the bread and butter of Scene It, showcasing a scene from a popular film and then asking questions about what you just watched and some additional information on the actors, director, etc. Other particularly fun categories are Pixel Flix (popular movies rendered into 8-bit reenactments), Props (identify the movie using only the telltale scenery) and Quotables (fill in the blank in some truly memorable expositions). There are almost two dozen different categories in all, and you're sure to pick out favorites rather quickly.
Unfortunately, in spite of the multitude of categories and a substantial number of questions (the game boasts over 2,800 different trivia nuggets), this particular edition of Scene It has a nasty problem of repeating itself. In only my third playthrough, I was getting repeat questions (sometimes entire segments of the game were the same questions asked again verbatim) and duplicate movie clips. Also, it's not as though I was specifically honing in on certain categories, thus exhausting the allotted questions sooner, but rather I had consciously tried to vary the puzzles so I could get a taste for everything the game had to offer. Alas, the title decided to throw out repeat questions almost immediately, thus removing any incentive to return to the game to see what else it might offer.
Another major shortcoming of the title is the lack of online support. If you want to play with friends, then they'd better all be sitting on your couch because there is absolutely no way to jump online and challenge someone, and that is totally unacceptable. I understand how much fun a party game can be when you've got a bunch of friends over at your place, but the reality is that in a gathering such as that, I'm going to be playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band anyway. Scene It is down at the bottom of the stack for sure. At any rate, the developers decided to exclude the one option that may have made the game worth keeping around a bit longer, so the game leaves you with little reason to spend any extended time with it.
Wrapping up the gameplay gripes is an idea that almost worked, but ultimately came up short. The PS3 version of Scene It supports the Buzz! franchise controllers, which was a savvy move. Also, you can mix and match Buzz! and standard PS3 controllers so if you don't have enough of one kind to go around, it's no big deal. The problem with this setup is that the Buzz! controllers aren't set up in the same fashion as the DualShock 3, so none of the buttons are in the right place. Consequently, you'll spend your first couple of games fumbling with the buzzers trying to figure out where everything is while those using the traditional controller rack up the points. Things start to fall into place after a couple of playthroughs, but if you then pass the buzzer to someone else, you'll have to sit and watch as the whole painful process plays out once more.
If all that weren't enough to turn you off of this game, there's even more to hate. Your host, "The Director," is an abrasive, annoying, repetitive and downright irritating character, and if for some reason you find yourself playing this game, the very first thing you should do is turn him off. Furthermore, the characters you can choose from are all generic, wooden and possess as much personality as a block of tofu. In addition to that, the cut scenes between each round are painfully outdated, and the "romantic comedy" interlude, with its faceless mannequin people, is just downright creepy. In this respect, Scene It could really learn a lot from the Buzz! franchise, where colorful, unique characters, an interesting host and top-shelf presentation add a great deal to each game's charm.
The one and only thing that prevents Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! from being an absolute waste is the sheer amount of available categories and the fact that a great deal of them are a lot of fun. Tempering this joy is a game with repetitive questions, no online support and confusing controls — all topped with some of the worst production values to appear in the current console generation. There are better trivia games available and even better Scene It games to be found for a lower price. While this title had visions of being a summer blockbuster, it turned out to be one of those late-winter bombs that quietly creeps into theaters one weekend and then disappears a couple of weeks later. Yes, this is the "Big Momma's House 2" of trivia games.
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