Empire Movie Quiz (UK - DVD R2)
Bah humbug! Scott McKenzie doesn't want this game in his Xmas stocking...
Stuck for a Christmas present for the film buff in your life? Well, why not pick up a copy of the Empire Movie Quiz so your friend or significant other can while away the festive hours making their family members look like imbeciles, while he or she dances around the living room knowing that they are indeed the supreme authority on everything movie-related? Endless racks of DVD interactive games are released every year around this time and this offering from Empire is expected to sell well, but is it any good or would you be better off spending your hard-earned cash on a pair of socks and a bag of chocolate coins?
The Empire Movie Quiz offers two game options: solo and team play. The ultimate goal in either mode is to accumulate five ‘Empire Stars’, with each star awarded when you score four points. So if you or your team get twenty points, you’ve won. In solo mode there are two difficulty options: ‘Easy Rider’ and ‘Hard Boiled’. Each question is worth one point and you have three lives—get a question wrong and you lose a life. The questions come in various categories and you have the choice of four categories for each question.
In team mode you can compete in two, three or four teams across six rounds. In five rounds the teams take turns to answer two questions each and earn one point if you choose an ‘Easy Rider’ question and two points if you choose a ‘Hard Boiled’ question. In the other round everyone has ten seconds to shout out the answer and it’s left to whichever honest soul has control over the remote to choose the team that got the answer right. As with the solo game, the first team to get five stars wins or if no one gets the maximum score, the team with the highest score wins.
I slipped the disc into the player and started off with the solo game. With Empire supposedly being the ‘world’s best movie magazine’, I expected a large selection of questions and plenty of movie clips but I was disappointed with the lack of variety on offer. At first I assumed there weren’t any movie clips on the disc because I didn’t get any until the fourth game I played.
Given that there are one thousand questions picked by Empire staff, the same questions popped up quite often, even within the same game. There are also some irrelevant questions, like asking what ingredients go into a White Russian just because it’s the Dude’s favourite cocktail in The Big Lebowski. Then within the same game I got the question: ‘In The Big Lebowski, what is the Dude’s favourite cocktail?’ In my opinion these questions should not have occurred together, which smacks of lazy programming of the software engine that drives the game. The non-film-related questions also give the feeling that the people who had to come up with the questions ran out of steam long before they hit their quota. The films clips that come round all too infrequently do not always provide any information needed to answer the subsequent question and the same clips are recycled for different questions.
The team game is a better experience than the solo game. My girlfriend Lizzie decided to take up the challenge of competing against me, and it was a bit of fun while it lasted. The team game for two people took about twenty minutes but by the end we weren’t in the mood for another game. In order to get the software written, onto the DVD and out into the shops for Christmas, the game is overly simple and is neatly summed up by Lizzie’s closing comment:
Scott: ‘If this was a board game it would be really boring.’
Lizzie: ‘If it was a DVD game it would be really boring, and it is.’
Most of the viewing experience has been crafted on a computer screen from scratch so there’s no dirt, scratches or other artefacts you may expect from regular movie DVDs. The main complaint I have is that there’s not enough film clips on show, which is probably because the budget only stretched so far, hence the recycling of the clips. In all honesty, I’d take edge enhancement, scratches and compression over perfect animation because it would mean I was watching something from a movie. The whole visual experience is like standing in front of a pub quiz machine, and even worse, you don’t have the chance of winning any money.
The different screens are overlaid with music that sounds like it belongs in a movie and the music along with the sound effects change appropriately to match the chosen category of question. The music does stop when you are given the question itself though, which is a bit jarring but on the whole, there is no interference and as with the video quality of the movie clips, you get pretty much what you’d get from the stereo tracks on the DVD releases of those movies.
I wasn’t expecting any extras but you get trailers for X-Men: The Last Stand, The Magic Roundabout, Transamerica, The Shawshank Redemption, Glengarry Glen Ross, Bugsy Malone, The African Queen and Brief Encounter. Incidentally, the clips that cropped up in the quiz while I was playing it were all taken from these films. You also get 25% off an Empire magazine subscription, which may make this worth picking up from the bargain bin in the January sales.
If I wanted a game for Christmas morning I would much rather rip open the wrapping paper to reveal an old school board game like Monopoly. The Empire Movie Quiz is a Christmas present for the movie buff who has everything, and by everything I mean every DVD currently on release. There’s nothing here to entertain for any more than an hour or so and for the same money, you’d be better off buying the movie buff in your life something they’ll definitely want: a movie.
Review by Scott McKenzie
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 13th November 2006
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Extras: Trailers, 25% Off Magazine Subscription
Easter Egg: No
Length: 20 minutes
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