Over the years, the game show Family Feud has seen its fair share of updates – new hosts, set dresses, as well as board game and video game iterations. Some, of course, have been better than others (we’re looking at you John O’Hurley – no, not you Louie Anderson) but with such a winning formula, largely reliant on participant’s insightful or crazy answer choices, Family Feud has managed to stay relevant – even when competing against “million dollar” prize-type shows.
However, with more and more casual and/or party games turning to motion controls (such as Kinect and PlayStation Move) can a more traditional trivia title, Family Feud: 2012 Edition, still compete for player’s time and hard-earned prize money?
Unfortunately, the answer, at least in this case, is a resounding “no.” Family Feud: 2012 Edition, even at the reduced price of $39.99 is one of the least compelling and poorly realized party titles on the market. In general, anyone who picks up the game is purchasing the Family Feud premise alone – as there are very few gameplay elements that manage to be shine. Instead, their are a number of problems that undermine the title’s promise – from multiplayer options to basic control mechanics to laughably sharp computer AI.
The basic controls in Family Feud: 2012 Edition are still 100% reliant on entering answers one letter at a time – while an answer timer ticks away on the side. Run out of time trying to input an answer and the player will waste their turn and receive a strike (of course, as in the actual game show, three strikes means the other team can steal). To combat the downside of the typing mechanic, the developers include predictive text inputs – meaning that as players type, potential answer options appear at the top of the screen. However, the predictive text entries appear to only include correct answers to the game’s various questions. Meaning, that if a player types in an answer and it doesn’t show up – they’ll know it’s not the right answer – providing players with fast fingers an advantage since they’ll be able to try out different answers before committing. While it would have certainly been tough to implement, it’s unfortunate that Ubisoft and Ludia, the Family Feud: 2012 Edition developers couldn’t be a bit more inventive and add an option to answer using Kinect – relying only on the controller for especially tough phrases (or voices/accents that are difficult for the device to recognize).
Similarly, because the game lacks sentient judges, it’s not always easy to type in the exact answer the game is expecting. Certain answers are programmed with leeway, i.e. the game might reward players for answering, “vehicle” instead of “car.” However, one question, which asked players to identify “Things people might be scared of” made it hard to gauge exactly how to reply – as some potential answers, such as “confined spaces” require players to really anticipate the exact answer (tight spaces, enclosed spaces), not just the general idea (anything that could cause claustrophobia).
That said, even if players are willing to deal with the limited input mechanics and static question/answer system, the lack of game modes – coupled with an unforgiving AI, will still manage to detract from an already underwhelming presentation. Unlike similar trivia titles, Family Feud: 2012 Edition, doesn’t feature an online multiplayer mode – and is relegated entirely to couch co-op and competition. Instead of robust online functionality, the game instead offers players different “challenges” – that boil down to which background they’d like to see behind their avatar (concert, beach, etc). Players can choose up to four players to include on their team (five total), locally, passing the controller from one person to the next as they battle the AI – or players can go head-to-head instead (up to five vs. five).
The lack of online functionality limits the game’s appeal significantly, but the ridiculously smart (or, on easy, totally dumb) AI undermines any enjoyment the title could provide as an individual (or team) experience. On normal difficulty, players will have to successfully guess every correct answer on the board – since, should the AI team get a chance to steal, they will almost always answer correctly (regardless of how obscure the remaining answer). Similarly, should the player win the initial face off but feel as though the question, and subsequent answers, is especially tough they have the option of passing to the opposing team (just like the game show) – banking on the fact that their opponents will also struggle with the survey.
Unfortunately, while the “pass” or “play” option in the actual gameshow offers some intriguing strategic options, Family Feud: 2012 Edition‘s lousy AI turns “playing” into a no-brainer decision – as “passing” only leads to watching the AI opponents run the board, with only one or two incorrect answers before they successfully answer even the most obscure entries. As a result, single players or co-op multiplayers shouldn’t consider “pass” or “play” a choice – and, instead, just hope that they can correctly run the board themselves since, as mentioned, the opposing team will almost always successfully “steal” if given the chance. Ultimately, going head-to-head with a friend on the couch is the only way to play the game and find a balanced, albeit still cheap, experience.
Also, despite a series of “unlockable” videos featuring current host Steve Harvey hamming it up with contestants – the game doesn’t feature the iconic comedian’s voice or likeness and, in his place, the substitute host serves only to keep the gameshow mechanics moving. There is no pageantry, no witty one-liners that pop-up when players answer correctly – just a series of stock responses.
Considering similarly-themed games but supremely better experiences (such as Buzz: Quiz World), are readily available on the market, and manage to offer robust multiplayer offerings and customization as well as entertain with a fun host at the helm, the lack of personality in this version of Family Feud is unforgivable. As a result, it’s hard to recommend the game, even to fans of the show, as this version somehow manages to suck the fun out of one of the most beloved competitions on television.
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Family Feud: 2012 Edition is available now for the Wii and Xbox 360. Game Rant played the Xbox 360 version for this review.