Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! - PS3 - Review
Some people excel at sports. Others are excellent with their hands, allowing them to build anything from a bird house to an AT-AT bed (Seriously, who does that?). My talents have always been a bit less useful than others, as schools don’t necessarily advance you for being good at Crazy Taxi or spouting obscure movie quotes in lieu of actual conversation. Discovering Scene It? was a bit of a revelation, as it allowed me to flex my sponge-like intellect while besting the brains of my closest friends and leaving their pride in a gelatinous clump on the living room rug. After two Xbox 360-exclusive entries, Scene It? has finally blasted its way onto the PS3 with Bright Lights! Big Screen!, bringing with it a horde of new questions and clips from the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Like many of these slam-bang action flicks however, this package isn’t without its share of problems.
Scene It? is a four-player, round-based movie quiz that uses clips, images, quotes, and sounds from hundreds of popular (and decidedly unpopular) motion pictures to craft more than 2,800 questions. There are 23 different round types to encounter - including anagrams of movie titles, pixilated pictures of celebrities, animated sketches that reenact popular movie moments, partially erased posters that fill in over time, and dozens of short, self-contained movie clips - with most asking you to name the movie, identify the actors, or recall specific plot events in exchange for points. The answers are always multiple choice, with most questions hiding the possible solutions until someone buzzes in.
The trivia action of Scene It? has always been fast and exciting, easily outpacing the fun found in the original board game. Questions range from the obvious (“Which actor is currently married to Angelina Jolie?”) to the somewhat obscure (a 15-question set about the career of Sidney Poitier), though the broad range of subjects should guarantee that someone in the room has seen or heard of the flick in question. Keeping this accessibility in mind, the controls remain as simplistic as ever, with each face button on the Dual Shock controller representing a possible on-screen answer. The big button controllers included with the PS3 Buzz! games are thankfully compatible here, and their game-show feel definitely adds a lot to the vibe of playing Scene It? with a group.
Unfortunately, this vibe is immediately decimated by the newly-retouched visual presentation of Bright Lights! Big Screen! The developers have curiously decided to tone down the game’s personality, replacing the energetic movie studio back lot sets of previous entries with a blank, single-color screen that never changes. While the foreground question boxes look fine, the backgrounds are as appealing as the bottom of my shoe, making the entire experience look cheap and generic. Also unbearably staid are the avatars that each player is forced to select, a cast that includes such rousing personalities as “Disco Girl” and “Swashbuckler.” These characters do nothing but take up screen space and squeal when you get a question wrong, serving no real purpose in the long run. Even worse is the newly-implemented Scene It? host, a humorless on-screen sap that explains each question type without an ounce of wit or charisma. He can thankfully be disabled from the options menu, though the memory of his vapidness will never be forgotten.
While the lackadaisical presentation is disappointing, the complete removal of last year’s online mode is a far more damaging blow. As fun as Scene It? is, it’s not always possible to get a group of movie buffs together for multiplayer, and quizzing yourself feels more like a test than it does a party. There really is no acceptable explanation for excising the online functionality, especially since Sony’s internet-enabled Buzz! series has proven to be quite popular. The game also fails to keep track of which questions it has asked you before, which leads me to see the same Pink Panther scene in three back-to- back games. No one should ever have to suffer through a Steve Martin clip more than once. Another fact that might irk some cinemaphiles is that the game doesn’t always tell you the correct answer, even if everyone has chosen incorrectly. All of this reeks of lazy programming, and really brings down the fun, party atmosphere that the game tries to produce.
It’s hard to not be disappointed by Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen!, even though the included movie trivia questions work just fine. With no new additions to the Scene It? formula, the staggering omission of online play and question tracking, and the fact that your money could go towards the far superior Buzz! series instead, it’s hard to recommend this package to anyone that hasn’t already built an AT-AT bed. That dude obviously has some money to burn.
Review Scoring Details for Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen!
Fans of movie trivia will love the large variety of question types and broad-spanning topics. Support for the Buzz! buzzers is welcome, as they are the best way to play. Unfortunately, the questions repeat way too often, giving more frequent players an unfair advantage.
Generic backgrounds and ugly characters cheapen the overall look of the game. There’s little to no visual distinction between question types and modes. The movie clips are DVD quality despite being on a Blu-ray disk
Bland thinking music, random squealing from the avatars, and an annoying, humorless host round out a mediocre audio package.
Movie buffs will appreciate the challenge of the more specific questions, but casual fans might occasionally find themselves lost.
The Scene It? video games have always been a blast to play, especially with others, but this year’s iteration is a step down in every imaginable way.
Four-player local multiplayer is fun and nicely customizable, but the lack of online play is completely unacceptable.
Scene It? features plenty of movie trivia factoids to keep cinemaphiles happy, but a dearth of features (no online play?!?) and the availability of other, better trivia games for PlayStation 3 makes me doubt that this was ever intended for the big screen to begin with.