1 vs 100 Preview (Xbox360)

Thursday night, The Hospital Club, Covent Garden, London and we’re waiting for the 1 vs 100 UK launch event to kick off, speculating which of the touted 80s gameshow presenters Microsoft has lined up for the occasion. Herded down into the studio area in the club’s basement and assigned a colour that designates us as a contestant in the first round, we grab a beer and chat with our journo buddies.

Hosting the evening is Pat Sharp, presenter of messy kids show Fun House, one of our most fondly remembered post-school TV viewings. And even better are the twins, Melanie and Martina, early childhood crushes who kept the scores on Fun House, resuming scoring duties for tonight’s bout of 1 vs 100. 80s nostalgia (that is likely lost on anyone of a certain age or anyone who didn’t grow up in the UK) aside, we’re here to get a first play of the exciting quiz show, which launched on Xbox Live as a first season beta on July 10th.

Your in-game host is represented by this avatar.
Ex-Fun House presenter Pat Sharp chatted via satellite with the game’s regular host, James McCourt.

Called up to the seat where the game is set up and ready to go, our avatar is preset for us (and is randomised, so looks nothing like us), standing in the lobby area with three other players who we’re actually seated next to. While we wait for the show proper to commence, we can tap Y to make our avatar dance and get amped up, which is actually kinda fun when you scroll through all the different moves with the D-pad.

Next, Pat Sharp connects live with regular 1 vs 100 host, James McCourt of National Lottery fame, in Seattle. Both enjoy a bit of a chat before Sharp blathers on about the miracle of Xbox Live for a while like a frozen caveman who’s just been thawed out. “How do you connect to Xbox Live and play a game with a friend in another country?” Oh, please just get to the bloody questions already!

Finally the formalities are over and the game begins with a mob of 24 rather than 100 and the 1 is selected at random. The format is perfect for Xbox Live with The Mob made up of 100 participants, The Crowd, which is everyone else and of course, The One who stands up front in the spotlight competing against The Mob for the star prize. Up for grabs tonight is a weekend in Ibiza, Wembley tickets to see Coldplay or U2 (snooze) and 6 runner-up prizes of Xbox 360s. Not too shabby.

There are all sorts of prizes up for grabs, from Xbox Live Arcade games to cars.
The final round was probably nail biting for the remaining contenders. For everyone else, it was time to grab more booze.

Five questions later, two of which we get wrong (because they’re stupid) and the round is over. 2000 points shy of a qualifying position means that we’re out of the running for prizes already, so we have nothing more to report. Well done to the winner, yada, yada, yada. Whatever. It was fun while it lasted.

Onto the game itself, which as a free download is quite an exciting prospect and not only because it’s great fun to play first and foremost. Up for grabs are prizes that are genuinely worth getting excited about like cars, laptops or HD Televisions, even if the odds of actually winning may seem dauntingly slim. Still, there’s room for thousands of players to participate and win a share of MS Points into the bargain, so it’s highly probable that you’ll get a Live Arcade game out of the show at the very least.

Being picked as part of The Mob or The One is determined by how often you play the game and how many questions you answer correctly, so the more you join and take part, the greater your chances. Questions are of the simple multiple-choice variety, but with A, B and C mapped to the X, A and B buttons respectively. The posers cover every facet of General Knowledge from sport to entertainment, geography, history and um, Xbox Live games, so expect questions like ‘what animal features in Xbox Live Arcade title Zuma?’, to crop up occasionally. It’s a frog by the way.

The Mob can still walk away with prizes if they manage to beat The One.
The Fun House twins were on-hand to keep track of the scores. Nice.

The live shows take place for two hours between 6.30 and 8.30pm every Friday and Saturday, whereas 30-minute Extended Play sessions take place from Sunday to Thursday with a pre-recorded host, so there’s ample opportunity to compete for prizes. Otherwise you can simply play for fun and each season will feature 200 Gamerpoints worth of achievements for you to unlock and add to your Gamerscore.

1 vs 100 is a genuinely enticing new property for the New Xbox Experience, brilliantly presented and incredibly straightforward to play. The competitive nature of the game is inherent in the quiz show format and reminiscent of Buzz! or Scene It. The concept may remain unchanged throughout the course of the show, but then it’s a strong enough one to keep you hooked, especially when you add the allure of real prizes to the mix. That it’s also completely free makes 1 vs 100 completely indispensable. You’ve nothing to lose, potentially much to gain and you get to have nice social fun while you’re at it. What’s not to like?

1 vs 100 season 1 beta is available to download now from Xbox Live.

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