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Buzz makes his debut on Sony's PS3, but does his spiffy red suit and quiff hairstyle ensemble still cut it...
We want to get this off our chests straight away because, to be honest, it's been eating us alive. It appears that Jason Donovan's voicing of the series' quiff haired host is no more. After only a few moments of play on Buzz! Quiz TV, we could instantly tell that the smarmy put-downs of this host were a little too well varnished for Mr. Donovan, and his absence from the game's credits only confirmed this. It was truly tragic. [UPDATE] Thanks to the anonymous comment of a developer on Buzz! Quiz TV (find below on the message board), we are happy to say that the "eponymous" Buzz is in fact voiced by the legendary Mr. Donovan in the upcoming Quiz TV. Our sincerest apologies to all concerned (not least Buzz himself).
That heart breaking revelation aside, we can say with a good degree of confidence that Buzz! should remain atop the games quiz mountain with this latest addition to the series. Why? Well, there's online play included for the first time, featuring downloadable user generated content as well; the game offers five different categories (while previous versions have often specialised in one, such as Buzz! The Music Quiz) with 5,000 questions altogether; finally, it retains the same Buzz! touches that we've known and loved the series for over the years. This includes Buzz's mockery of poorly scoring contestants, and the blood boiling competitiveness that the game can pull out of even the most reserved players.
By surfing through channels of the game's 'TV' format, you can choose to be quizzed on one of the game's five categories: Music, Movies and TV, Sports, Knowledge, and Lifestyle. Alternatively, Channel Hopper can also be selected, providing a mixture of the five. Even though the knowledge of TVG writers rarely extends beyond that of games (we're simply charged up over night in pods and then wheeled to our desks every morning), we opted for a mixture of all the categories in our hands-on of the game, mainly for the sake of as broad an experience as possible.
And broad it was. We found instantly that although there are five main categories, these are then whittled down into many sub-sets within those categories. So, for example, we were often given the choice between sub-categories such as Food and Drink (Lifestyle), Science and Nature (Knowledge), or 80s Hits (Music). Of course, the reason we were often able to choose these sub-categories was because we were so consistently losing (you chose the next round's subject if you come last in the preceding one), but the game's range of subject's certainly doesn't look like it will disappoint when the game is released this May.
Then there are the types of round you'll face. We experienced the same few game types, in the same order, on two separate run-throughs of the game, and we can't say for certain whether this will be the case on the final build of Buzz! Quiz TV. Nevertheless, the assortment of rounds we experienced were certainly varied enough to keep things interesting.
Festivities were kicked off with a Points Builder round (a basic Q&A round that allows you to build your score before the madness ensues). That was followed by the return of Pass the Bomb, which is a bit like pass the parcel, only with a bomb instead of a parcel and questions instead of music. Whoever's holding the bomb when it explodes gets a points deduction. The buzzer round incorporated a picture game where you have to press the big red button as soon as an image appears that corresponds to the question at hand (i.e. In which of these sports would you score a touchdown? - cue a reel of sports pictures).
Further rounds included one where the person who answers a question fastest gets to choose which opponent gets splatted with a cream pie. As soon as you get hit by two pies, you're out of the game and the one remaining player wins the round, harvesting the valuable points. There's certainly the sort of variation that you'd expect from a Buzz! game, each new round requiring a slightly different approach and skill, although the common-thread running through most of them is that the fastest finger gets the rewards.
For example, things really start to get nasty when you're given the opportunity to take points away from your opponents as long as you have the quickest correct response to a question. On the other hand, there were a couple of rounds that don't depend on the fastest finger. For example, betting a certain amount of points on the upcoming question (you get a hint on the subject before the question is revealed). However, you'll always stand to lose as much as you could possibly win depending on whether you answer it correctly.
This all culminates in an 'Every Second Counts' (remember that? With Paul Daniels) style finale. Players are put on pedestals and the more points they've accrued from the previous rounds, they higher their pedestal reaches. The more time you take to answer a question, the closer the pedestal gets to the ground and, if you get a question wrong, you'll drop even closer to the floor. Conversely, if you answer a question correctly in the fastest time, your pedestal gets raised slightly. Once your pedestal reaches the ground your character falls through a trapdoor and, presumably, goes on into oblivion. The last one standing wins and we certainly enjoyed the heated battles that this finale encouraged, resulting in what was certainly some extremely feverish quiz gaming.
As previously mentioned, Buzz! Quiz TV is topped off with online play and the promise that user generated content will provide even more enjoyment after the game's 5,000 questions get repetitive (which will take quite a while). Users will be able to upload their questions to Buzz! databases so that they can then be downloaded by other player's for use in their games. With this flurry of online activity in Buzz! and one of the most complete category sets we've seen in the series so far, Buzz! Quiz TV certainly looks set to make a fitting debut for the quiz game on Sony's PS3.