Scene It? Lights, Camera Action Review (Xbox 360)

It should come as no surprise that Microsoft chose to publish “Scene It? Lights, Camera Action” for the Xbox 360. If one looks at the number of casual games and older titles on Xbox Live Arcade, Scene It (even as a retail disc) fits right in. Why? Because it’s technically six years old. Scene It? first appeared in 2001 as a DVD game for movie aficionados to test their trivia of all things silver screen. This latest version for the Xbox 360 includes new questions and modes, but for all intents and purposes, it’s the same core game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely paints the game into a rather specific niche corner.

What made the original Scene It? such a hit was its eclectic mix of trivia, from obscure-even-for-the-hardcore factoids to even-my-grandma-knows-that-one questions. This trivia was then combined with fun multimedia, be it pictures, audio or movie snippets, that provided just enough challenge to be worthwhile but not so much that casual movie buffs would be put off. The Xbox 360 version of Scene It? includes that same mix, with more than 1,800 questions never before seen in a Scene It? game, plus new puzzle types and HD-format movie clips.

Scene It? Lights, Camera Action also includes three new puzzle types that Scene It? fans haven’t seen before: Quotables, where players must complete a famous line from a movie; Credit Roll, where you have to guess the film based on a list of characters and actors; and Child’s Play, a mode in which you look at a child’s drawing of a famous movie scene and have to guess the name of the movie. Simple enough, right? In a word, “yes.” But “simplicity” doesn’t necessarily translate to “boring” in this instance, in large part because of the “big button pad” included with the game.

Much like an old-style TV game show (and the PlayStation 2’s Buzz: The Big Quiz), Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action comes with four Big Button Pads that resemble a flattened microphone. The top of the gamepad features, you guessed it, a big red button that players use to “buzz in” their answer faster than the other players. After buzzing in, players then use one of the four color-coded buttons along the gamepad’s shaft to indicate their answer. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find yourself spastically slamming on the buzzer to beat your friends to the answer, adding a competitive element that wasn’t present in the original Scene It? games on DVD.

But what about the questions themselves? With all the competition and multiple play sessions, do you ever really see all those 1,800-plus new bits of trivia? Well, after a while you definitely run into repeats, much like you encounter repeats with any board game or trivia challenge. But to its credit, the Xbox 360 version of Scene It? keeps track of questions that have already been asked, a tactic that doesn’t eliminate repeats completely but certainly reduces the number of repeats you encounter.

With the 1080p playback potential of the Xbox 360, one of the nice touches in Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action is the inclusion of high-definition movies and still photos from many of the movies featured in the game. None of the clips is particularly long, and obviously a still photo doesn’t offer more than a detailed glimpse into one specific scene, but having 720p high-definition content on the disc is a nice nod to the hardware’s playback potential and to the end-users” likely demand for HD content. After all, big-time movie fans are the game’s target demographic, and those same people want high-definition clips.

That demographic makes evaluating a game such as this somewhat challenging. On one hand, movie buffs will see this as the definitive next-gen evolution of the classic Scene It? franchise, and as such a must-by title. Casual gamers, however, will probably be more enticed by the simplistic competition inspired by the Big Button Pads than they will the trivia itself. And hardcore gamers? Well, even they need a break from first-person shooters from time to time, although playing a movie-trivia game probably isn’t their first choice for gaming substitute. But, with all that said, if you’re looking for a gift for the movie buff in your household, Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action is definitely worth a look, even if it’s just used as a casual diversion from time to time.

– Jonas Allen

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