Who Wants to be a Millionaire – answer 15 questions to win ever increasing amounts of money, use three life lines as back up along the way and hope not to crash out at an embarrassingly early stage. Put up with a slightly creepy host who insists on drawing out every last moment to create a highly artificial atmosphere of suspense. Spend more time faffing about than actually answering questions.
Thus goes Who Wants to be a Millionaire the TV show, and thus, for the most part, goes the game.
If you have seen the show then you know how this game is going to roll. It’s a simple quiz game aimed squarely at the casual market, with a single player value directly proportional to how much you care about your achievements or trophies. Aside from being an easy haul of virtual kudos, Millionaire offers a decent enough party game for the trivially inclined. Up to four players can play locally, using the pass and play system if there’s a sudden shortage of gamepads. A fastest finger first round sets up the running order (arrange four answers in the specified order, as fast as you can), and each player takes turns on their own unique set of fifteen questions.
These questions scale up pretty well with the increasing amounts of money, and there seems to be a fair spread of topics that nicely cover European, Australian and American culture and history as well as standard categories like entertainment, geography and sport. The ‘Special Editions’ part of the game lets you download additional themed question packs for 240 – 400 Microsoft Points a pop, and so far offers football, music, movie and South Park themed packs. None of these were included in this review, but it’s certainly a good way to personalise the game to your own tastes, and some packs even give the game a bit of a visual tweak (the South Park pack puts Stan et al in the contestant’s seat).
As with all such games Millionaire’s success is largely down to how many people you have on your sofa. It does a good job of creating a bit of tension even if the constant repetition of the hosts catchphrases wear a bit thin with extended play. It does like to tell you things at least three times and the host sequence at the beginning is unforgivably unskippable.
There are no alternate modes or online multiplayer, so aside from personalising your question packs there’s not much to do. Once you’ve played one round you’ve seen everything the game has to offer. Millionaire is best in short bursts with as many people as you can manage, and will be one of those games that gets taken out at Christmas and parties, probably between bouts of Just Dance 3 and Wii bowling.
Audio & Visual:
On the surface Millionaire is slick and well presented with the atmosphere and setting of the TV show recreated in every detail. Fans will instantly recognise the set, the lighting, the music and more – everything is fully licensed here and there is no doubt that this is as close as you can get to a perfect imitation of the show. The interface is incredibly easy to pick up and play, so even the most technophobic party guest will be able to get in on the action. The voice acting on the host is surprisingly bearable, even if he does tend to sniff a lot he’s still better than the phone a friend callers – mysteriously limited to random verbal grunts rather than any actual words.
What does let Millionaire down is a certain something in the build quality that you can’t help but notice the longer you spend with it. The animations on the host are not quite human, the contestant is a simple silhouette . Although the theme music is present and correct it doesn’t loop smoothly at all – you can hear the lurch when the track misses the proper beat. Transitions between shots are abrupt, and in a few play sessions the visuals began to flicker constantly. Loading times are just that bit too long for something so simple, and the load screens and scripted lines run out very, very quickly.
There are no surprises here – Who Wants to be a Millionaire Special Editions lets you play Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It looks and feels like the show despite it’s shortcomings in the presentation department, and will fit nicely into your collection of games to stick on in a moment of party crisis. Single player is pointless when you’ve bagged all the achievements (thank you Google), and multiplayer survives the collection of minor annoyances long enough to be an entertaining distraction if quizzes are your thing.