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Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action


A valiant effort to bring a boardgame to the console.
Board games are something of a passion with me. I like to collect them and play when I get the chance. Most games require you to have at least one other person and sometimes upwards or 3 or more people. I have always enjoyed trivia games and the ability to use the useless knowledge that collects in our brains. There have been many board games that all you to flex your brain power, but until recently there has not been an avenue for the console gamer. In doing so, there is a fine line to maintain such that the result is fun and enjoyable to play but still remains faithful to the source.

Enter the partnership of Microsoft and Screenlife, successful publishers of many board games using the moniker Scene-It. Releasing an adaptation of a popular board game can be a risky move, but even if the game doesn't obtain the level of success as a Halo or Gears of War, something new is brought to the table. When that new venture is fun and entertaining, how can you go wrong?

Gameplay:

Upon picking up the game box, you will notice the display of one of the Big Button controllers displayed in the front of the package. The controllers are the most unique aspect of Scene-It? Lights, Camera, Action. Choosing to release a new controller for the game does add in more hardware to your 360 setup. And while the controllers themselves are wireless via infrared, you must use a sensor receiver that plugs into your 360 via USB cable. However, the cable on the receiver is long enough that you should have no problems putting it in a place that is convenient for you.

The controllers do work quite well and are very responsive as to not hinder your ability to answer questions on the screen. Most puzzles make use of the four colored buttons to answer questions. Some puzzles require you to buzz in, game show style, using the big red colored button before pressing one of the smaller buttons that correspond to the answer.

Scene-It offers three game types to choose from. Short and Long play are basically the same game with minor differences. Instead of three rounds of three puzzles with five questions per puzzle as in the short play, long play extends that to three rounds of five puzzles each with five questions. Short play will run about half an hour to complete where the long play may take up to an hour. Party mode skips the rounds and just displays puzzles on the screen allowing anyone to just pick up a controller and answer.

Short and Long play offer the best experience and bring out the competitive nature as you and your friends try to answer questions and gain as many points as possible. The game sets up each puzzle type by explaining how it works with a little comical commentary thrown in. Points are assigned for each correct answer and decrease in value the longer it takes you to answer. Each question starts at 2000 points and decreases to 0 before the answer is displayed. During the first round, you can guess and not worry if you are incorrect. During rounds two and three, however, any wrong answer will deduct points from your total. At the end of each round, bonus points are assigned for various criteria, such as fastest answer or most answers correct. The final round, named the Final Cut, consists of a puzzle and questions afterwards. No points are deducted for incorrect answers. However, consecutive correct answers will give you a multiplier that adds more points to your score. This gives players that are behind a chance to catch up and can indeed turn the final results their way. Party Play is a bit less structured as there are no rounds and no final winner declared. Questions are displayed on screen and people can buzz in to answer. While the game does track scores, it is much more of a way to get people to play without committing to a full game.

Scene-It offers many different puzzle types to keep you entertain, and if you have played any of their board games, they should be familiar. One of the puzzles you will encounter will display a screen shot from a movie with part of the scene missing. You will be given a list of movies and must choose the correct answer. It is a pretty straight forward puzzle but can sometimes be tricky if you have not seen the movie or you mistakenly believe it is a scene from a different movie.




Another puzzle you will encounter is a bit more difficult as the image is broken up into many little pieces. The image slowly comes into focus and when you believe you know what the answer is you must buzz in and select from the list of answers. However, you only have a few seconds before the game takes away your ability to answer and continues to focus the image for the other players.





Various other puzzles will have you watch a scene from a movie and answer questions about the scene and movie afterwards. Some of the questions relate to the movie more then others. A number of times I was asked to give a specific detail about the scene, such as how many of the characters were wearing a certain item. While done to throw you off a little, it does add a different perspective to the game. Other puzzles show you pictures of actors/actresses when they were younger and have you guess as to who they are. The game has a nice range of puzzle types and does so in a way that you will not encounter every single puzzle in each game. The other nice feature of the game is that it tracks which questions you have seen and tries to eliminate your viewing of duplicate questions as best it can. I must say that the system does seem to work in that 5 complete games I hadn't seen a single question that I had seen already. I'm sure as you play more, you may encounter a question you had seen in past games. With just under 2,000 questions in total the game has a finite number of questions to ask and repeats will be hopefully limited so that you don't receive them in the same game. Still, if you play a complete game once in a while, you should have enough variety to not see a duplicate for some time.

Achievements:

In your first few times playing, the achievements will come quite frequently. That is if you are good at movie trivia and the sometimes minute details they quiz you on. Most of the achievements are quite easy to obtain, such as answering 25 questions in total about sci-fi movies. Others require a bit of knowledge in answering sets of questions in a row without an incorrect answer. Still other achievements come at the end of the game based on your total score, or number of questions you answered in less then one second. For a trivia game, I think the disbursement of the achievements is done well enough that it will take multiple playthroughs to get them all.

Graphics:

Whereas most games are judged critically on their visual experience, a game such as this does not suffer from lesser quality graphics when compared to many recent games. That isnít to say that the game is unwatchable and poorly done. The actual gameplay graphics are adequate and do their job branching between the different puzzle areas you are taken to each round. The game offers both still and film clips from many popular movies and these images look clear and do not hinder the gameplay at hand.


Audio:

There is not much to the game in the way of audio. You will not find an orchestra full score with sweeping musical pieces to compliment your gameplay. What you will find is an almost carnival like auditory experience. To give that carnival like experience yet another piece, an announcer greets you as he explains each puzzle type and reads the questions to you. Rounding out the experience is color commentary applauding or humiliating your performance each round. After multiple plays through, the voiceover explaining everything does get a bit tiresome. However, if you play with people that arenít as familiar, you will enjoy not having to explain each part of the game yourself.

Replay Factor:

Perhaps a strong positive for this game is the replay factor that it brings to the table. Not only are there over a thousand of questions, but the game actually makes use of a system to track what questions you have seen so that you do not see the same questions over and over. The ability to play the game by yourself or challenge friends brings a nice dynamic to the game that extends the life of the title. Perhaps, if the game gains some measure of success, would be future downloadable content to add more questions and or puzzle types to the question set. If the game follows in the footsteps of its boardgame parents, Xbox 360 owners can hope for themed releases of question sets. And while nothing has been announced yet, one can only wish that this title eventually gets new content.

Conclusion:

While it is a fairly simple game to play, it is one that is enjoyable in a group setting where you can show off your movie knowledge and let the score speak for you. The game offers many different types of challenges for players. While some do not quiz specifically on the movie but rather minute details such as how many items were in a particular scene, the game still works and offers an enjoyable time. The game offering both structured play and a party mode give you an option to break out the game and allow for set players or a more drop in an answer type setting. I was worried, when I first heard of the plans to bring the game out, that it might be a bit gimmicky. However, I find myself enjoying the game a great deal and look forward to breaking it out when friends come to visit. All in all, you cannot go wrong with a quality title like this that brings gamers and non-gamers together in a battle of trivia knowledge.