Review: Buzz! Quiz World (PS3)

Buzz.jpg Hey, look everyone! There’s actually another game out today that isn’t called Modern Warfare 2. I know, shocking, isn’t it?

While most of the gaming world froths at the mouth over Infinity Ward’s latest Call of Duty epic, Sony quietly sneaks the next PS3 installment in its popular Buzz! quiz show series onto store shelves today. For obvious reasons, Buzz! Quiz World won’t be getting much attention, and that’s too bad. Shrug the game off as “just another family-friendly casual game” and continue on with your first-person shooting if you must, but let me tell you something right now, you’ll be missing out on one of the more entertaining game experiences to hit the PS3 this year.

As a proper sequel is supposed to do, Buzz! Quiz World builds upon the sturdy foundation laid out by its predecessor — last year’s Buzz! Quiz TV – leaving (almost) everything that worked intact while expanding the experience with more of just about everything and polishing it all off with a glowing presentational finish.

The core Buzz! gameplay is the same as always. You and up to seven other players grab your Buzz! buzzers (a bundle is available for newcomers) and compete against one another in rousing trivia contests playing out like a TV quiz show. Questions across a wide variety of topics (sports, movies, history, lifestyle, etc.) are asked and, using your buzzer controller, you press the colored button matching what you think is the correct answer. Matches span six rounds, always kicking off with Point Builder for everyone to casually score some points to work with and ending with a tense round of Final Countdown as competitors match wits to be the last person standing on their platform, with a variety of other challenges mixed in during the middle rounds. Pie Fight is always fun, with the first correct answer gaining control of a pie to throw at another player, as is the hot potato game of Short Fuse.

In terms of the basic essentials, Quiz World contains all the new content you’d expect from a sequel. Over 5,000 new questions are included to test your knowledge against, with continued support for homemade MyBuzz! quizzes and backwards compatibility with DLC question add-on packs previously released for Quiz TV. A few new characters are also included – being the fantasy geek that I am, the new medieval knight instantly became my character of choice – as are new round types like Over the Edge (answer questions to keep from falling into a pool of green goo) and On the Spot (contestants answer individually while the others determine the point value based on how likely they think you are to come up with the correct answer). The presentation has been jazzed up nicely as well, with the trivia action taking place on a massive new set complete with a rotating stage platform, elaborate lighting effects and a more vocal audience, all combining to bring a heightened sense of drama and tension like a real quiz show. Buzz now even rewards the winning contestant with a silly prize (accompanied by Buzz doing something equally silly with the prize, like getting stuck inside a giant bottle of champagne or launching off a bouncy castle).

Quiz World goes far beyond just adding some new questions, rounds and graphics too, though. Simple as it may seem, the addition of user profiles actually proves to be the most significant new feature. Now, each individual player can save a name, character and buzzer noise to a profile, which, for one thing, cuts down on the intermission time between successive matches since you don’t have to go through the player setup process over and over. What’s more, the profile system finally enables Buzz to be a more personable host. He now calls you out by name and even keeps track of your play history in order to deliver running commentary based on current and past performance – if you’re doing really well he’ll talk you up and sometimes even try to jinx you, or if you are struggling along he’ll give you a hard time for missing so many questions. Unfortunately, if your name is rare or has a unique spelling it probably isn’t included in the provided list of profile names, so you’ll need to compromise. The name list is pretty robust, though, so I think most players will be good to go.

Another great thing about Quiz World is how customizable it is. Creating custom matches with the rounds of your choice was not an option in Quiz TV, which was a glaring omission. Thankfully that option has now returned. But Relentless Software didn’t stop there. Along with custom matches, a whole slew of preset match options have been added so you can jump into different games in a more streamlined fashion. If you just want straight trivia, select the Serious Rounds option and that’s what you’ll get. But if you enjoy the wackier side of Buzz!, choose the Crazy Rounds option and go to town. You can also play 15- or 45-minute quizzes, Standard or Round Select games (losing player gets to choose the question category or round type before each round), games using questions solely from downloaded quiz packs, and new single-player Over the Edge and Stop the Clock challenges for solo trivia whizzes to master. The only thing you can’t do anymore is choose a specific question category for an entire match, and I’m not quite sure why that option was removed.

Expansion of online functionality is another upgrade to Quiz World. Online “sofa vs. sofa” support has been bumped up from four to eight players (four players locally can play against four players online), and voice chat has been enabled for those who like to trash talk or distract their quiz rivals. MyBuzz quizzes span four rounds now too instead of one, so their implementation feels more integrated than it was in the last game. Sadly, though, you can no longer play MyBuzz quizzes by yourself. I appreciated being able to hop online and pop through a few homemade quizzes on my own in Quiz TV, so I really missed not being able to do the same here.

“Trivia gaming simply doesn’t get any better than this, folks.” That’s what I said in my review of Quiz TV last year, and at the time it was true. But that statement is true no longer thanks to the good people at Relentless Software who continue to top their previous efforts with each new Buzz! installment. Quiz World, despite a couple odd deletions, takes all the great stuff about Quiz TV and just flat out makes it better. Quiz World is trivia gaming at its highest level, and whether you are a Buzz! newbie or series mastermind it is sure to be hit at any family game night or friendly gathering.

BuyIt.jpg

Pros:
+ User profiles pep up character selection and get you more personally involved
+ More round customization and preset match options
+ Expanded online functionality
+ Snazzy presentation upgrade
+ Content refresh: new questions, characters, round types, etc.
+ Same great Buzz! trivia gameplay as always

Cons:
– MyBuzz! quizzes no longer support solo play
– Can’t choose question categories pre-match

Game Info:
Platform: PS3 (also coming to PSP)
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Relentless Software
Release Date: 11/10/09
Genre: Trivia
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 2-8 (w/ limited single-player support)
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!