Get Your Buzz On

The PS3 version of Buzz! is finally here. Go buy it. Now.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: October 26, 2008
We've certainly gown fond of the Buzz! games on the PS2. From the flappy-headed, smarmy host who antagonizes far more than he encourages to the collection of modes that attempt to level the playing field for players that may be lagging behind to the questions themselves, there's a ton of fun to be had here.


But the PS2 games could only go so far, and while they were undoubtedly the best trivia games on the market (much like the SingStar games), there was plenty of room for improvement. Relentless Software did just that when moving the series into next-gen territory, gussying up the visuals with fancy new HD graphics while keeping the overall feel of the game.

The move to HD really has benefitted the series more than one would think just looking at the bulletpoints. Sure, having the interface up and running in 720p is nice (no 1080p here, sadly), but it's the improvements to the contestants (there are far more this time around, boosted further by an add-on pack that brings 10 new buzzers, four new contestants, new costumes for everyone and Trophy support offered for free as soon as you first pop the disc in and fire things up) that really makes the game pop. They're animated better, have the addition of taunts between questions, and in events like Pie Fight and Short Fuse, the cream from pies or soot from exploding bombs sticks around throughout the round, and both look fantastic.

So too does the new Buzz arena. Rose, Buzz's oft-berated co-host, is gone, and now the Final Countdown round has contestants suspended above the circular stage and the audience surrounding it, dropping as the time goes down before eventually letting the losers fall into a trap door and off the stage. The modes this time around have definitely shrunk, which can lead to a bit of over-familiarity with things (even if the categories keep the questions relatively fresh), and because Jason Donovan only laid down a set number of lines as Buzz, you tend to hear a whole lot of the same thing over and over again.

Luckily, there was an attempt made to bolster things quite a bit more. The former wire spaghetti that resulted from just trying to haul out the PS2's tethered controllers is gone, replaced by the freedom of a single dongle and four wireless controllers. They require two AA batteries (not included), so it's a bit of an investment to get it all up and running, but once you do, there's nary a hint of lag or confusion whatsoever, so jumping into games is a breeze. There's also the addition of online play and the ability to create and play custom quizzes.

These MyBuzz! quizzes are simple little eight question affairs, but because they can essentially cover any topic, there's no end to the kind of stuff you can be quizzed about. An online portal lets you come up with the questions and submit them (either on your PC or through the PS3's browser), and once they're reviewed, they're added to the pool, and you're given options to sort through stuff based on rating (which you do at the end of a MyBuzz! quiz), popularity and even what your friends have done. It doesn't appear that there's any editing of the questions in place, so spelling and grammar can be an issue, but it's a minor bother, really.

The only other problem I had with things was that some of the questions were, well, wrong. In one instance, a question simply asked "what is this?" and showed a close-up of a hard drive. The game said it was a tape recorder, I believe, which is technically correct since they operate on the same magnetic principles, but the picture was clearly of something else. It happened again when dealing with the same pic/topic, but a different question. There's also a bit of repetition in the 5000 questions, not in their frequency of appearance while playing, but in the actual topic at hand (one question might ask which of the answers isn't part of a band, and a later question might ask who the very same people listed in the previous question belonged to, band-wise).

Otherwise, though, the game is pure, simple, blissful trivia deliciousness, and it's unmatched on any other platform. Support for the PlayStation Eye means that the game snaps images of moments before, during and after games, sometimes doing it in the background but often letting you pose for things, and then gives you the option to export those images to the XMB to share with others. Good stuff, there, and handled quite elegantly by the new flipping mass of screens that serves as the game's "TV" behind Buzz.

The addition of online play is, certainly, the most important thing the PS3 version of the game offers, but the improvements to the presentation and visuals certainly don't hurt either. I do wish that there had been as many different modes while playing the games as in the PS2 versions of things -- especially when grinding through the 50 games to get the gold Trophies added with that free patch -- but hopefully that's something that can be added with downloadable packs, some of which have already gone live and more are planned.

In all, Buzz! Quiz TV is a worthy and welcome continuation of the PS2 franchise on the PS3. Like SingStar before it, the online additions almost single-handedly make the game worth checking out, but the wireless controllers and quick, simple process for getting into games is just icing on the cake. If you like trivia games, you aren't going to find a better one than this. Go buy it, seriously.
The Verdict
9.0

Buzz! Quiz TV is a stellar trivia game, and pushes the genre forward more than most will probably give it credit for. The presentation is fantastic, the user-generated stuff generally quite good, and the experience as a whole absolutely fantastic.

8.5Graphics:

Genuinely good stuff here, from the redesigned stage to the new contestants and their animations. You'll likely be surprised by just how slick it all looks.

7.5Sound:

Repetition in a game like this is inevitable, but hearing the same lines just about every time isn't. I really do wish there had been more bits of dialogue recorded.

10.0Control:

The new wireless controllers work flawlessly, offer solid battery life, and instantly remove all the clutter of the wired mess that was the PS2 controllers.

8.5Gameplay:

Though the actual built-in options are more scarce than the PS2 version, they're made up for by having a near-endless supply of custom, user-generated content.