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Scene It? Box Office Smash

Self proclaimed film buffs will never pass up an opportunity to show everyone how much they know. Whether or not you care, they will happily inform you that Robert De Niro, for example, put on an unprecedented sixty pounds for the last few scenes in Raging Bull. Or that Daniel Day Lewis strapped himself to a chair for months prior and during filming of another biopic, My Left Foot. Here’s another for you: did you know that Christopher Walken was very nearly cast as Han Solo in the much loved Star Wars trilogy? Or that oranges were used as a foreboding symbol of death in all The Godfather films?

Oh, where was I again?

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Scene It? Box Office Smash isn’t a complicated beast to get your head around. It’s a trivia game… about movies. Much like the first Scene It?, you and up to four other players – local or through Live this time – can test your knowledge (or lack of) on films ranging from the 1940s, all the way to the present day covering cult films, summer blockbusters, family favourites, or Hollywood classics. The variety on display is something everyone will be able to appreciate. Of course, just throwing question after question at you isn’t something you would expect from a videogame, and thankfully Scene It? has a number of different ways in which to essentially barrage you with, well, question after question.

For example, one of my favourite rounds gives a 16bit animation of a scene from a famous movie; the player then has up to four possible answers to choose from. It’s a great section with bags of charm, and seeing King Leonidas kick a Persian into a black abyss in pixel form never gets old. Another great round comes in the form of film clips, where the player is shown a brief scene from a film, that varies between the likes of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to Steven Spielberg’s E.T., and success in this section not only comes from your knowledge of the film, but your ability to listen and observe. If you don’t, it’ll come as a bit of a shock when the game asks you to recall what kind of food a character started choking on, or what brand of bubble bath someone used in a scene. There are some rounds on the other hand, you will dread facing. For instance, the round where you have to name the movie from the end credits alone. Or trying to put four films in chronological order can become an exercise in patience, more so than good memory.

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My Avatar and IWith the recent NXE dashboard update, Scene It? Box Office Smash allows players to use their avatars in-game, as well as taking them online. It won’t change the game in any meaningful way, but it’s a novel idea and an example of what Xbox 360 owners can expect in the near future.Scene It? also attempts to create an authentic game show feeling as opposed to a written multiple choice exam in two ways. One: the announcer that comments on your progress, chipping in with ‘hilarious’ quips at every opportunity is generally about as bearable as any other presenter you’ll find on TV at the moment. The admittedly short interludes between rounds that couples this idiot aren’t any more welcome and only break up the action. The second method, on the other hand, genuinely mixes up how you play and ultimately, how you react to being told you’re not so smart. Scene It? enables players to customise their games (either long or short), so if you have a friend that likes to buzz in immediately, taking nothing but an educated guess with a one-in-four chance of being correct, you can put a stop to that particular shenanigan by deducting points for an incorrect answer (watch him or her weep). In addition to a timer that eats away at your potential points haul where a swift correct answer is just what divides the whole field. And bonus points awarded for meeting certain goals like answering three questions in a row – games become increasingly tense affairs, where no matter how learned you are in film, it always remains or at least feels competitive.

Unfortunately, like any kind of trivia, Scene It?‘s shelf life is finite. It won’t take long for repeat questions to rear their ugly head, and while you’ll eventually remember the answers to all the rounds, it won’t feel at all satisfying because you only know it out of mental conditioning and reverberation, and not because you know and/or love the movie(s). This is a conundrum the developers should have seen coming; would it have been too much to ask for more questions via marketplace? Scene It? is also an experience that will only be of any worth in (good) company. If you can’t get real, tangible friends to play with you then Live acts as a more than adequate alternative – just good luck finding games.

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And it is this limited lifespan that ultimately relegates Scene It? to nothing more than holiday entertainment fodder. You can argue that it’s supposed to be played irregularly like a board game, but if that is the case then why not buy a board game for half the price instead? However, look past the briefness of what’s on offer and there’s a richly entertaining game to be had. It may not be a box office smash, but if you take a few friends along with you, Scene It? is worth the price of admission. Popcorn not included.

6 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in May 2007.

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