After the success of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, and the apparent comeback of primetime game shows, NBC entered the ring with its own game show that combined elements of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? with Survivor. The result is The Weakest Link--a show where the contestants work as a team to win as much money as possible. One contestant faces elimination after each round until a single contestant remains to take home the cash prize. The PC version of The Weakest Link mimics the presentation and rules of the television show, and makes a few additions to make the game a little more enjoyable for casual trivia fans.
There are three gameplay modes in The Weakest Link. The single player mode is the equivalent of a single episode in which you compete against six other players. Before entering the actual game, you can select from 24 contestants, and while they all have different personalities, they mostly exist for entertainment purposes. The championship mode lets you compete in a tournament-style series of episodes. Multiplayer gives you a chance to go up against seven other human players at the same computer.
After the contestant introductions for each mode, the delightful British host Anne Robinson gives each contestant a question, and if it's answered correctly, the team can win more money before the end of the round. However, a contestant has to decide if they want to "bank" the money earned by the team or try to increase the prize money level by answering the question correctly. If a contestant uses the "bank" option then the current amount of money earned by the team is protected and carried over to the next round. Conversely, if "bank" isn't used, a contestant can increase the potential amount of prize money--it can go as high as $1,250,000-- and let the next contestant "bank". But, an incorrect answer results in the team losing all of the money that isn't banked, and the potential prize total dropping back down to $2500. There are only a few seconds to use the "bank" option, so a decision must be made quickly.
When Anne asks your designated contestant a question, a series of letters, which designate the first letter in each of the answers, appears on the right side of the screen. You have to scroll through these letters and select the correct answer before the time limit expires. Interestingly, if you wait long enough, the actual words for each answer appear, making it easier to guess. The only catch with this option is that the other contestants may vote you off the show because of your inability to answer questions promptly.
Before a contestant is voted off, the announcer lets you know who the strongest link was, who banked the most money, and who was the weakest link. You have the option to vote for any contestant regardless of their status by selecting the number corresponding to their name. In fact, in case there is no obvious weakest link, some computer contestants may vote against each other just because they don't like their personality. Whoever gets voted off launches into a tirade on why they couldn't answer the questions correctly and then quickly storms off the set.
Fans will appreciate how closely the game follows the actual show. All of the small details--such as Anne's trademark swivel to face contestants, her abusive commentary, and the melodramatic lighting--are there. But best of all, the PC version of The Weakest Link lets you bend the rules by adjusting the randomness of the questions to favor your most knowledgeable category. It might be cheating, but at least it decreases the chance that Anne will say, "You are the weakest link, goodbye!" to your contestant. The Weakest Link is due out in stores tomorrow.