As the first of Xbox Live’s Primetime series of free multiplayer games, 1 vs 100 is an important part of Microsoft’s casual gaming strategy. It’s filled with friendly Avatars in a bright and cheerful set, a family oriented set of questions (with a couple of accidental and hilarious double entendres), automated match making and the first consistent attempt to deliver constant in-game advertising to the audience.
Based on the game show of the same name, the experience revolves around The One who controls the flow of the game, and The Hundred (also ominously referred to as the mob) who participate in the same questions. The game starts with a multiple choice question being asked: an incorrect answer from The One means that the prize is split among the remaining mob members, while a correctly answered question by The One gives him or her the choice to either walk away with their current winnings, or continue on for a bigger prize (and again the risk of losing it all). An incorrect answer from the mob will remove them from the group, while a correct answer will allow them to continue on to the next question. It’s a simple premise, and it works pretty well.
Officially billed as Season 2, the first official release feels a lot more substantial than the earlier beta. The field of questions is a lot broader, although it still has a disproportionate number of extremely geographically specific questions that the players always bomb on. That said, there’s a nice variety between news of the world, entertainment, science and other general topics. Host Chris Cashman is an energetic host for the live events which currently air on Tuesdays and Fridays, while the presenter duties handled by a pre-recorded Jen Taylor (yes, Cortana herself!) fit in nicely. The show moves at a fast but manageable pace, with occasional ad breaks of 30 to 105 seconds for you to dash away from the console for a bit if needed.
Unfortunately, earning a spot as The One or The Hundred is remarkably difficult. You have to compete with an enormous and constantly growing audience (the last live show I participated in topped 40,000 players), making the barrier to entry into that group extremely unlikely. The upside is that the core experience is still pretty solid, as everyone else can join in as The Crowd and answer right alongside with points granted for a correct answer, correct answers in a row and quick replies.
Still, the experience of a live game show experience with a real human host is pretty cool. Becoming eligible to win real prizes in the form of Live Arcade games or points (but not while the game is in beta) is neat, and definitely something unique to the current Xbox Live experience. For anyone who doesn’t have the time or inclination to join the live shows, there are Extended Play episodes available every night that strip out The One and The Hundred, but still feature a large crowd that can earn points that work towards eligibility to join the aforementioned groups.
As mentioned in our earlier look during the beta, there’s a lot of potential in 1 vs 100. It’s not particularly deep and there isn’t enough to keep your attention for more than a brief session at a time, but the constant addition of new questions, twice-weekly live shows and continued Extended Play sessions provide a fun, relaxed and free experience for Xbox Live Gold members to participate in.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars