Review by Suprak the Stud

"Luckily, This Game is Free"

1 vs. 100 doesn't exactly sound like it has what it takes to be a riveting competition. It sounds more like the proper conditions for a slaughter, or what the average Detroit Lions game ends up looking like. However, despite the name not lending itself to what sounds like a competitive outing, the franchise has already developed into a very successful game show in spite of the fact that it is hosted by one of the guys from Full House. And, as is inevitable with any popular movie, television show, book, or cereal, a game adaptation has been made for 1 vs. 100 in hopes of capturing the popularity of the show and expanding upon the basic concept of the game. If you're a fan of trivia games, 1 vs. 100 might be worth checking out as and it introduces some interesting concepts to trivia based games that help to set it apart from some of its competitors. However, the gameplay options are extremely limited and while it might keep your attention for a couple of days, the lack of offline support and a repetitiveness of gameplay keeps it from even attaining mediocrity. Of course, it is still worth a look as it is completely free.

The game plays out in a series of multiple choice questions with three separate options, which by itself doesn't sound too exciting. Like the show, there are three possible answers, and like the show you have the chance to either play as the one or the mob. Er…sometimes. And this is where the concept behind the game starts to break down. You can play in the mob and you can play as the one, and while you do you actually play for Microsoft points and free online games, and I mean that you can do these things in the same sense that you can win the lottery from buying a scratch off ticket because they aren't that bloody likely. I've played in the mob a total of one time and the rest of the games were spent either playing in the audience during one of these Live games or in one of the extended play modes which is basically a string of trivia questions that may or may not have a category. In fact, you have to earn a position by either being one of the top scorers of the season, week, or episode, with the former two being fairly difficult if you have a family, job, or school, and aren't a lonely misanthrope. Still, I found this as an amazing innovation in trivia games as it actually attaches some sort of physical winnings to your success. While $1,000,000 imaginary dollars is great, I'd much prefer something tangible, as every time I try to redeem my winnings from the Deal or No Deal video game for groceries, they have me escorted outside of the store. And while it is nice the Microsoft is actually giving out prizes in this game, it would have been even nicer if they had made the game more enjoyable.

The game does feature a fairly extensive online mode, and in addition to the bi-weekly actual 1 vs. 100 games, there are a variety of other games that are strings of questions in topics ranging from general trivia to comic book trivia. There tend to be five or six games per night that are half an hour long with three or so commercial breaks. This is fairly enjoyable for a while, but I began to wonder about what happened to the development team for any offline gameplay. While I've heard plenty of times that online gaming is the future, I didn't really think this meant that offline options would be eliminated entirely. There is no option to play at anytime other than the scheduled timeslots, which makes 1 vs. 100 the least convenient video game I've ever played. Gaming is something I tend to do if I have a little free time, and if I want to make plans to do something it most likely won't be to answer trivia questions by myself at home on a Friday night, as I don't think you can make plans that depressing without having to go in and receive medicine and psychiatric treatment. I've never had a game tell me I couldn't play it before, but if you try to start up the game before its ready it'll shoo you away while it does its hair and gets its face ready. What if I'm busy at 7? What if I want to play now? I've never been rejected by a game before, so I don't know if serenading it or promising it that I'll change might make the schedule a bit more flexible, but as far as I can tell you are stuck with the time slots the game gives you.

Even the online mode doesn't offer that much, and I don't believe it would attract much attention if it didn't offer real prizes for playing. Playing online might be fun, but you are basically just answering questions next to other people's avatars. If this sounds like fun to you, then 1 vs. 100 might be right up your alley, but I'm also guessing you can get the same thrill from answering questions your teacher presents you with in class. The game disguises itself as a trivia game, but remove the mask and you find that it is little more than a multiple choice test. At least some creativity in how the questions are presented would have been nice as the game is nothing but a string of multiple choice questions no matter what mode you're playing in. You earn more dances by leveling up, which you do by answering questions and getting points, but smashing a button to make your avatar dance in front of strangers really isn't compelling unless there is also a button to get drunk, take off your shirt and get your avatar arrested by the Microsoft cops (which there isn't). Still, if you're a trivia fanatic and don't mind having to schedule ahead to play a game, then there might be enough to interest you for a little while here. While almost all of your time is spent just answering strings of questions and dancing like Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air, some of the categories are at least somewhat fun. The categories range from niche and interesting (comic books, movie villains) to esoteric and dull (I played through a game that was centered around famous nerds, which is something that never deserves a category in anything other than in Big Book of Stuff Nobody Cares About).

While the layout of the game has some definite advantages, the fact that the game was designed in a completely new way also introduces a lot of problems that you won't be able to find in other trivia titles. The game might not cost anything, but that doesn't mean there isn't a price for playing it. Advertisements run every ten minutes or so, greatly interrupting the flow of the game and forcing you to sit through the same three Sprint commercials over and over, which I assume is what hell must be like for an AT&T executive. Additionally, there are only two play modes, and it is likely that you'll spend almost all of your time in the extended play mode. Playing as the mob or as the one during the actual live games is a great idea, and giving away prizes during this segment is extremely generous, but it is likely you'll only play once or so the entire season leaving you stuck in the crowd the rest of the time. You can't even play whenever you want, as even the normal segments only run during certain times leaving you stuck if you want your trivia fix at another time. While a free game is always nice, I would have rather paid if it meant more freedom in gameplay.

Also, while this is somewhat entertaining for a single person, it lacks a good party play mode which is pretty much essential for any trivia game. Only the desperately lonely or the very dumb would prefer to play a trivia game but not compete with people in the same room as you, and 1 vs. 100 falls at pretty much the bottom of the pile of trivia games in terms of fun, competitive play. There are some options, and you can either bring a guest with you online or play against other people you know that also have Xbox Live memberships. However, only bringing in one other person really isn't going to be fun for a party unless you have a shortage of friends or are a member of a very small cult, so bringing on one guest tends not to help matters much. Online play is fun, and is something more of these trivia games should include, but 1 vs. 100 completely sacrifices an offline mode, which is beyond bizarre as the majority of the game is just a string of trivia questions and an offline mode that you could just play with your friends would have made this game a top tier trivia title…uh…thoroughly. I understand that Microsoft probably didn't want people without a Gold membership to play for the prizes, and it does help the typical problem of frequently repeated questions, but only because the game limits how much you can play it and the only mode allowed will become dull before you have a chance to get many repeats.

Ultimately, 1 vs. 100 is likely to be known for possibly starting a trend in online gaming, and I could see this whole game show format really taking off as people love free stuff. However, the gameplay is too limited and you are really confined as to how and when you can play the game. And yes, it does offer prizes for winning, and while this is generous it doesn't make it a good game. I could stage a one man performance of Hamlet in my backyard, and if I gave everyone who attended $40 I'm sure they would say they enjoyed it too. However, this doesn't make it good, and as a rule of thumb if someone ever gives you anything for doing something, you are most likely not having fun and might have been suckered into doing work. 1 vs. 100 does offer a very new approach to online and trivia gaming, but that doesn't mean it should have completely abandoned the old approach. Even the online mode isn't that great, and the endless string of multiple choice questions gets dull pretty quick. With essentially only one online play mode and no offline capabilities, 1 vs. 100 is likely to only interest die hard trivia fans or individuals desperate for some Microsoft points.

Do You Want the Money? (THE GOOD):
+You win actual Microsoft points if you're good/lucky enough to be the one or in the mob
+Game itself is completely free
+Some pretty fun trivia categories offered on a weekly basis

Or Do You Want the Mob? (THE BAD):
-No offline mode
-Very restrictive gameplay; only allowed to play at certain times
-Fairly formulaic and straightforward trivia game (except when playing as the one or mob)
-Grows dull quickly, especially when just playing in rounds of endless trivia
-Frequent commercial breaks make me wish I could just pay for the title

Or Perhaps You'd Prefer Neither and Just Want to Disappear Into the Abyss? (THE UGLY): While most gameshows are entertaining to watch even if you aren't the one trying to win the money, something is terribly wrong with the formula that 1 vs. 100 uses if they're trying to make the Live round entertaining for everyone. While most shows you get at least some sort of connection with the participant, it become hard to do so when the player is a mute who's interests appear to be limited to the Carlton dance. Also somewhat disturbing is the frequent occurrence of the player having a bad connection and just disappearing halfway through the game. While it might make a live game of Jeopardy more interesting if one of the contestants disappeared into the ether in the middle of answering a question, it is considerably less so when I already know the cause of the disappearance. Oh well, at least it netted me a cool 80 Microsoft points in the mob, which I think I can use to buy a hat for my avatar. Totally worth it.

THE VERDICT: 3.25/10.00

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 01/11/10

Game Release: 1 vs. 100 (US, 06/01/09)

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