Christian Bale would have a heart attack.
When I first popped the newest Scene It?
into my PS3, I wasn't expecting much. Being an aspiring movie buff, however, I felt like I might be able to have some fun with this title for at least a few hours and test myself in the process. When the opening cinematic came on and turned out to be surprisingly lengthy, and then my very first round kicked off with the classic “wax on, wax off” scene from The Karate Kid
, my hopes began to rise that this could turn out to be much better than I first anticipated. My time with the game over the next couple days, however, systematically destroyed that hope and replaced it with sorrow and regret (much like the career of Karate Kid Ralph Macchio
If I were just judging the game on its merits as a trivia database, I'd say it's satisfying. There's a ton of questions, from many genres and time periods, and (since this is just a glorified expansion pack, after all) they're up-to-date with questions from movie releases this year. But trivia can be done on something as simple as pen and paper (maybe these guys should adapt Scene It?
into a board ga... hmm... never mind). At some point you have to face the fact that this is a video game, and that means we need more than just decent trivia questions — we need these newfangled things like graphics, control, and presentation. And Scene It?
fails in all of those categories.
Let's start with the least egregious of the transgressions. No one's expecting this game to be gorgeous, and, well... those expectations are met. The graphics aren't exceptionally horrible, and I've certainly seen worse this console generation — but they're still less Johnny Depp and more Mickey Rourke, if you know what I mean. The real problem is that there's just not much to see. You spend the bulk of your time staring at a question and answer selections over a background of... err... swirly colors? It would have been nice to have something interesting to look at; even something as simple as movie-themed wallpaper would be an improvement. Instead we're stuck with a screensaver from Windows 95.
Next, let's just throw retarded controls into the mix too? When four answers appear on the screen, they are listed in a column with the X button choice on top, then Circle, Square, and Triangle at the bottom. Any gamer with half a brain should realize that this is contradictory to the actual layout of the PS3 controller. And why aren't the on-screen choices in a simple diamond shape that correspond to the positions of the buttons? The column arrangement would make sense if the buttons on the Buzz controllers corresponded perfectly (which they don't) or if there were Scene It controllers for the PS3 (which there aren't).
Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge issue since a regular gamer has the controller buttons memorized, but consider this game’s target audience: It’s supposed to be a fun party game for families and friends, so it sure as hell better be accessible to gamers and non-gamers alike.
As an example, I’ll share the experience I had playing this with my dad over Thanksgiving. He hasn’t played a game since he bought me an NES with Super Mario Bros. back in the day, so of course he isn’t used to our fancy space-age controllers. Now imagine his frustration when, time and again, he’d buzz in to answer a question, pick out the correct answer from the list and have to look down at the controller to find the corresponding button. Did I mention you only have a four second window to select your answer? The completely unintuitive arrangement of the answers screwed my dear ol’ dad out of tons of points for questions that he knew. That’s like calling a coin flip with Two-Face correctly and having him bust a cap in your ass anyway.
As a result, Scene It?
can only be entertaining - not to mention, fair - if everyone playing not only has comparable movie knowledge but also comparable gaming experience, which is completely ludicrous for a casual party game. And the thing that's so infuriating about it all is that these problems could have been fixed with almost zero effort. Were the developers so lazy that they couldn't be bothered to move a couple of static images around on the screen? And without online play, this game is as thoroughly phoned-in as pretty much any Robert De Niro performance from the past ten years
Sorry for the cheap shot, Bobby. I just had to fill my self-imposed movie reference quota.