Scene It? has been a popular DVD-based party game for a number of years, so it's not surprising that the series has finally landed on a console, and with cool buzzer controllers to boot. Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action is a multimedia party game that will test your Hollywood knowledge from the 1950s to 2007. Film buffs who want to showcase their nerdiness will love the game, but even if you're only a casual movie fan, it's a lot of fun.
You can play Scene It? with regular Xbox 360 controllers, but the game comes with four special controllers officially known as the "Xbox 360 Big Button Pads." With the exception of being wireless, these controllers are very similar to those used for Buzz! on the PlayStation 2. They're meant to be held in one hand, and they feature a big, colored "buzzer" button on top as well as four face buttons lined up vertically on the front of the controller. Although the controllers are wireless, you do need to set up the included sensor atop or near your television and then plug the sensor into an open USB port because the controllers use infrared and not radio frequencies to transmit. They also require two AA batteries each, which are included with the game. It's curious that the game restricts you to only four players, even if you have more Xbox 360 controllers. This kind of limits the whole "party game" appeal of the package. There's also no online play and there aren't any leaderboards, which is a shame because both seem as if they'd be a natural fit here.
Once you've got the controllers set up, you'll want to pick a game type. This won't take long because there are only two options. "Party play" randomly selects game types and goes on forever. Why this is considered party mode is anyone's guess. It's also anyone's guess as to why the game shows you everyone's answers as soon as they enter them in this mode (but not in the quick-play mode). When three people quickly answer a question and exclaim "Oh that was easy!", it's not too hard for the fourth person to figure out that the others know the answer, look to see what it was, and then enter it. Suffice it to say you're going to want to go with the "play now" game mode, which lets you play a more structured game. You can choose from short play, in which each of the three rounds consists of three puzzles, or long play, which raises the number of puzzles per round to five.
The game is set in a Hollywood movie lot. The game's host will take you around to different areas and start a set of questions loosely based on that area. Consequently, if you're in the animation studio, the puzzle will be centered on a drawing, and if you're in the sound studio...you get the idea. Each question is typically worth 2,000 points, and the point value decreases as time passes. Most of the time there's no penalty for a wrong answer, but there are occasions where you do lose points for an incorrect guess. There's tremendous variety to the types of game, or "puzzles" as they're called. We'll cover the highlights:
"Child's play" shows a childlike drawing of a scene from a movie, in which characters slowly fade in as time passes. "Invisibles" shows a photograph from a film but with the actors digitally erased, and you must guess the movie. "Now playing" shows the background of a movie poster and slowly adds in details, and "pictograms" shows pictures of everyday objects that are put together to make a movie title. There are some puzzles that use movie video or audio clips, and although there could be more, they're welcome for the variety they add. "Movie clip" shows a short clip of a movie and then asks you to answer questions based on the clip, whereas "soundclips" plays an audio snippet and has you guess the movie. Those are the highlights, but there are plenty of other modes, most of which are fun and a few of which aren't all that exciting. You might have to unscramble movie titles; finish a famous song, slogan, or saying; guess a movie as a sketch representing its title is drawn; put four movies in order according to their release dates; and even name what movie a certain prop belongs to.
Once the round is over, you're awarded bonus points for being the fastest, answering a streak of questions in a row, getting every question in a puzzle correct, and more. After all three rounds are finished, you're taken to the screening room for the final cut. Here you'll watch a clip from a movie and then answer questions based on the clip and the movie in general. The catch here is that you're awarded a multiplier for each consecutive correct answer you give--up to 10 times. Scores could surpass 30,000 points here, which in some cases might be more than someone got in all three rounds combined. Though this certainly makes things exciting, it can render all of the previous rounds moot if one person knows the movie in question well enough and the others don't.
Scene It? is a lot of fun, but there are some things it could have done better. The presentation is somewhat drab, and the announcer is tolerable at best, but none of this hurts the experience too much. It would be nice if there were more movie clips and more variety to how they are used, but there's a wide range of studios and actors represented... even if John Travolta seems to have an unusually strong presence. The game does a nice job of including a variety of genres from a number of different decades, right up to the present day. And by present day we mean present day--there are references to flicks as recent as The Simpsons Movie, but there aren't a lot of clips from more recent films.
All in all, Scene It? is a very good game that brings something new to the Xbox 360's crowded holiday lineup. It might seem a bit steep to shell out 60 dollars for a trivia game, but you get your money's worth, and not just because of the controllers. The game tracks what questions it has asked you, and there's a lot of content (you can play four games without even seeing all the puzzle types and there are over 1,800 questions), so you shouldn't run into repeat questions for a while. Even repeat questions aren't much of a problem because you'll need all the help you can get to earn some of the game's achievement points, which have a knack for getting you to mutter that ominous phrase "Just one more game, I can get it this time!" You'll certainly get the most enjoyment out of Scene It? if you're really into film, but even casual movie fans will find a lot to like here.