reviews\ Oct 14, 2001 at 8:00 pm

The Weakest Link - PC - Review

“This isn’t a game for slackers!”

Thus intones the queen of mean and of putdowns, Anne Robinson, in the introductory cutscene of Activision’s PC release of The Weakest Link.

The program is based on the NBC game show, which was an import from the BBC in Great Britain. In case you’ve been hibernating, or living without a television or any sort of entertainment news, the format is as follows: Seven contestants begin by answering questions and trying to bank as much money as possible during several rounds of play. As the game progresses, one player is eliminated after each round until only two remain. The survivors then try to out-duel each other in answering questions to win the cash accumulated by the ‘team’ during the game.

At its core, it is a game that tests player’s general knowledge. Questions can cover the spectrum of topics, from science to politics to geography to entertainment and physiology.

The Activision game follows the same format with some notable exceptions. All the questions asked have four possible answers to choose from. You simply scroll to the one you think is correct and hit the enter key. You’ll either be correct or wrong. If you answer too many questions incorrectly, you can be voted out of the game – even in single player mode.

You begin by selecting a cyber character to represent you. There are 24 to choose from, each with his or her own personality. The voice acting for these characters is bland and lacks anything close to the charged emotion associated with the game.

Anne appears in cutscenes before and after a round. These cutscenes look like they were taken from the show, but appear to have been filmed for the game. Robinson looks awkwardly around, reads her prepared remarks and then sort of waits for the round to begin, or for someone to be expelled.

In-game the cyber characters, polygonal representations of people, are not that animated, and though you hear them speak, their faces are stone masks – no moving parts, no emotion. Their answers range from “oh yes!” to “that’s a hot one” or “the top answer.” The environmental graphics are very good and actually represent the show’s setting well.

Controls are keyboard driven. The letter B will allow you to bank the money earned, while the spacebar acts as the enter key to select answers. Voting off a character is done through numeric selection.

Of course this game offers single player and multiplayer games, each game takes place on the same computer. This program does not feature LAN or Internet gaming.

You can bend the rules to your liking. For example, you can make it so that any human player can bank the money at any time, or adjust the difficulty level of the questions. The game also has a championship game in which you play through four games with the chance to “win” $50 million. The game also has three difficulty levels – normal, easy and junior (for younger players). It is rated for Everyone.

This program does offer a solid cerebral challenge. However, there are other trivia games, such as the You Don’t Know Jack series, that while adult-oriented are much more entertaining. This program may not be The Weakest Link in the genre of trivia games, but “statistically” it isn’t the strongest player.


Install: Medium
This program only requires 130 megs at the minimum install level, 310 at the medium and 635 for a full install. It does take a little while to install it.

Gameplay: 6.5
Multiple choice questions which have to be read, and a bevy of cutscenes slow down the game.

Graphics: 6
The environmental graphics are well done, but the polygonal characters are stiff and Robinson’s cutscenes seem forced.

Sound: 6
The musical track is solid, but the vocal characterizations are, in spite of an obvious attempt to put some personality into them, are bland and ineffective.

Difficulty: 7
The questions are good and run a gamut of topics. The game is set up to challenge any player.

Concept: 6.5
Trivia games are not new. This program does a nice job of transferring the televised game show into the PC format

Multiplayer: N/A
This is not really applicable. Multiplayer games are essentially the same as a single person game with the exception that instead of one human playing on the computer, more than one is playing.

Overall: 6
Does anyone grow tired of insults that all start to sound the same after a while? While the game does offer a nice mental challenge, the use of numerous cutscenes slows game play and the animation isn’t that strong. The audio portion supports the graphics musically, but fails in the realm of vocal characterizations. Turn off the sound, play the multiplayer game as each of the available characters and you will probably enjoy the cerebral exercise.

Above Average

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