First, the good news: Buzz! is back! A new instalment in the hit series of quiz games has been released just in time for Christmas. It features 5000 new questions, three more round types and three new characters. There has been a host of minor technical improvements which enhance the overall experience to a significant degree.
Now, the bad news: Buzz is back. The eponymous quiz show host is as bouncy, bolshy and full of irritating wisecracks as ever. Once again it will be just minutes before you want to grab him by his silly hair, yank the top of his giant head as far back as it will go, stuff your Buzz! controller into his gaping maw, push it so far down his gullet the flashing red button pops out the other end, stab the sharpened end of a tree branch into each buttock and call him Rudolph. Or perhaps that's just me.
So putting Buzz to one side for now, let's start with those round types. Buzz!: Quiz World features old favourites such as Fastest Finger, Pass the Bomb and Final Countdown but now there are extras like Over the Edge, where every question you get wrong tips you closer to a giant gunge tank. In On the Spot you get to bet your opponents' points on how likely they are to get questions right, which is a good twist.
The least interesting new round is Boiling Point, where you compete to raise the temperature on a thermometer by giving correct answers. The winner is the first person to get five questions right. Without dynamics such as constantly shifting scores or the chance to mess up things for your opponents, there's little tension until the very end.
But if you're not a fan of Boiling Point, or any of the other rounds for that matter, you can give it a miss. Buzz! Quiz World has more options for selecting rounds than any of the previous instalments and you can even build your own custom game. Alternatively you can opt for all "Crazy" or all "Serious" rounds, or play games with a time limit of 15 or 45 minutes. It's about time Buzz! fans had the option to customise their games to this degree so the addition of this extensive range of choices is welcome.
However, it's a shame there still aren't many options when it comes to customising your character. You can't design your own avatar or import one from Home, and instead must play as one of 12 wacky stereotypes featured in the game. New characters include a medieval knight and a bearded yogi, but old friends like the annoying mime artist, slutty cheerleader and porno nurse also make a comeback.
They're all as naff as ever except now they look a bit more dated. There's still no explanation as to why evil alien overlords and old grannies are competing in a television quiz show together. Not that Buzz! is the type of game which requires a sophisticated plotline, but a bit more consistency to the character design would be good. As would the option to play as an avatar who looks like you, which is available in rival quiz game 1 vs. 100. There is some Home integration in Buzz! Quiz World - you can win items for your apartment, such as a bonsai tree - so why not extend that to avatars?
At least the player naming system has been improved. Now Buzz calls players by their names, or rather the names they've picked from an impressively large database. It includes multiple variations and spellings too so you can be Pete or Peter, Jackie, Jacky or Jacqui. Those with more exotic names can choose from a good selection of nicknames - things like Tiger, Fingers, Gramps, Iceman and Hightower.