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The Weakest Link
Score: 89%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Media: CD/1
Players: 1-7 (Multi-tap)
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
It looks like the show, and considering that's what Traveller's Tales was going for, they succeeded. The Weakest Link consists of two different presentations. The one you'll see for most of the game is the 3D one, while FMVs of Anne Robinson (A.K.A the evil Mary Poppins) delivering her...uhm, 'kind words' are also dispersed throughout the game. The sets all capture the look of the show, right down to the lights and while they may get old after awhile, you really can't complain while playing. The FMVs are done well, although the do seem a little grainy. The only real fault I had was the contestant reactions after they are voted off the team. I couldn't understand why they didn't just film them as they did for Anne's parts. Instead, there's just a static picture of the contestant and an audio track of him (or her) whining about how they were unfairly voted off.

PS2 players take note, the texture smoothing adds little to no noticeable improvements, so don't worry about turning it on. If this really matters it would be best to wait just until December when the PS2 version is scheduled to be released.

This brings me to another interesting part of the graphics, the contestants. Each of the characters stand out from one another and have their own looks that fit their personalities perfectly (although they may be a little stereotypical). My personal favorite was Eddie, the truck driver, who looks like someone you would meet at Stuckey's.

The sound is great, although it gets a little repetitive. All of the musical cues from the show are present, as well as Anne's signature insults. In addition to having their own looks, all of the characters have their own voices and comments on why they voted a particular person off. Again, this shows a good job at making personalities unique, such as Jenny whose voice gets more annoying the farther into the game she gets. My only complaint is that the comments tend to repeat themselves and get old. They're still fun, but after the third time of hearing Anne say 'Who here is a few shrimp short of a barbie?' some of the charm wears off. The contestant comments can get old as well, so I suggest using different people each time you play.

I have to admit, gameplay is what interested me the most about this game. Having watched the show, I couldn't help to wonder how it would translate into game form. So how did it hold up? Surprisingly well, although it does have a few glitches.

You start each game play selecting to either play the Multi- or Single player mode. While the single player mode is okay, this game is meant to be played with friends because the computer can, at times, get cheap and vote out the human player within the first three rounds. After you choose your mode, you can then select one of 24 characters to represent yourself in the game, as well as choosing the other contestants (or you can have the game randomly choose them). Depending on how many contestants you select to play with, you start at a different round of the game. For example, selecting only two characters starts you off on the last round.

Once you are in the game, your team is given a time limit in which you must answer as many questions as possible to get the most money. As the pot grows, you can choose to 'bank' the current money amount, putting it in the money pot, dropping the escalating amount back to the beginning. In the Option menu, you can choose to give this option only to human players, which is something I advise doing with more than three people because the computer tended to bank at the worst possible times.

The contestant who answers the least amount of questions is named the weakest link, and the one who answers the most is called the strongest link. Except for the few times when the computer cheats, the weakest link is usually the one voted off, but once you get into the later rounds, the strongest link has a more likely chance at being the one voted off. It's all true to the show. Being the strongest link also has the added advantage of being the tiebreaker vote. This is a power the computer tended to abuse however, and was usually the means by which I lost the game. Prepare to get a vengeful attitude against certain personalities, because everyone I played this with always had that one character they held something against. My personal rival was Rose, the 59 year old grandmother from Utah.

Weakest Link has three different difficulty levels: Normal, Easy, and Junior. However, while the different modes do affect the questions asked, they have a greater effect on how the answer is given to you. In the normal mode, you are only given the first (or in some cases two or three) letter of the answer. Of course, this makes things more challenging, but unless you know the exact answer, it does get frustrating. Easy mode gives you the entire word, and I found it the most enjoyable difficulty level. Junior level takes this even farther down by only giving you two answers.

As far as actual question difficulty goes, they vary. In the Options menu, you can change the frequency of certain question types but still some of the questions are just plain tough. My biggest problem was with the questions - the math ones, which are very hard to begin with and are made harder with the time limit.

Game Mechanics:
Control is laid out very well. When answering questions, each of the face buttons gives a different answer. When voting, each face button and some of the D-pad buttons name a different player. Everything is labeled on screen, making things very straightforward.

So is this game a weak link (c'mon you KNEW that was coming eventually)? As a single player game, it's not that enjoyable, but as a Multi-player game it rocks - and hey, it beats a round of Gilligan's Island trivia any day.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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