The Smack Attack is Back
Things like giving the names of downloadable MyBuzz quizzes into the neat little LED lights that appear during round announcements or the overhauled stage or the increased number of characters and taunts or the way the goop looks when characters fall into it during the new Over the Edge round where wrong answers slowly jack players up until they're pushed off into a pit in the middle of the stage are all pulled off with such perfect visual flair that you get the sense that the series is finally cozying up to the PS3's graphical oomph in an important way. Sure, Buzz still seems to have his head flapping determined by scanning audio files and thus only jabbers in a way that's vaguely in time with what he's saying, but that's about the only complaint I really have about the visuals.
The audio, on the other hand, is superlative. Adding all those sound bites that actually talked about the people playing by name adds a sense that the game is actually paying attention to what's going on, and it wastes no effort in flaunting the running commentary. All the buzzer sounds, announcer reads and contestant grunts, cheers and whines are all done well too.
The new modes are a nice remixing of old ideas. That same Over the Edge round reverses the old Final Countdown idea, and Boiling Point (where players race to get six questions right before everyone else with final points being doled out by how close everyone else was to six) basically puts more pressure on players to answer right consistently, though it's not all that different from the other modes like Point Builder. On the Spot is easily the most interesting of the new ones, though, allowing only one player to answer a question and then having all the other players bet on whether or not they'll get it right. Nothing says "in your face" like having everyone bet against you and then nailing the question without even needing to ponder all the available answers.
It also provides the perfect opportunity to make people take a drink if you've followed the Official TPS Buzz! Drinking Game rules, though the blackout potential of the new 45 minute-long game option means it probably shouldn't be made public lest our lawyers have a heart attack. Even still, the new time-based format for things (15 and 45 minute options join the ability to mix and match modes as you see fit) are great for just getting into the game. The only real problem is that playing solo and offline only allows you to play your own games of Stop the Clock (just go for points) and an extended version of Over the Edge that will keep going until you answer too many questions incorrectly. So long as you connect to the Buzz! servers, you'll get online leaderboards for these modes, so you're not just playing against yourself.
The real fun, though, is in hopping online and taking on other players, and it's here that Buzz works best for shut-ins. In an ideal world, you'd be playing with other people in your living room, trading jabs with and forcing shots on everyone else around you, but the new online mode lets you at least pair up against multiple people from multiple systems rather than just one couch vs. another. Oh, and it'll let you chat with them too, so trash talking is certainly not out provided you have a headset or use that PlayStation Eye you use for pics as a microphone.
Literally every area of the Buzz! experience has been improved for Quiz World. The online is great, the MyBuzz quizzest are a blast, the new modes fit perfectly, the old modes are still fun, the presentation is leaps and bounds better than it ever has been and the commentary is far, far more varied and relevant to what's happening. All that's missing now is allowing all the quizzes from the PS2 Buzz! games to be downloaded here (though all the Quiz TV ones will transfer over just fine). If that happens, and they get some DLC modes going, I don't think I'll ever have to ask for another Buzz! game. Yes, it's that awesome and yes, you need to get this game for all those upcoming Holiday parties. Trust me.