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Wheel of Fortune PS3 Review

Title: Wheel of Fortune
Developer/Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Platform: Playstation 3
Release Date: 3/19/2009
Number of Players: Up to 3 players

Wheel of Fortune has definitely been around the block more than a few times when it comes to usage of the license ranging from board games to computers games. Having a significant other who is really not into the “gaming thing” it’s nice to have at least a handful of titles to share with her. In fact, we’d made good use of the Plug-n-Play version of Wheel of Fortune. So it goes without saying, which is good because I am typing it, that I was happy to receive a review code for Wheel of Fortune on the PS3 from the PSN.


Now, let me pause here and note for the readers who don’t know: I live in Las Vegas. You can imagine just how often I have to see something related to Wheel of Fortune in my weekly life. Oddly enough, I am still not bored or sick-to-death of the license. It still remains one of my favourites from the classic series of television game shows.

Bringing Wheel of Fortune to the Playstation Network for play on the Playstation 3 was really a no-brainer given that SOE has already started down the line of bringing the classic or popular television game shows to the PSN. The question in my mind when I first heard of the release of Wheel of Fortune was how it would hold up to the true heart of the game. To that effect, it’s hit or miss.

Wheel of Fortune PS3

Now I know I use that term quite a bit in my reviews, “hit or miss”, but that is because I always try to find something good in just about everything I review. That doesn’t mean I am always able to do so, I just try. Some review writers out there now seem to be so utterly cynical that they appear to be waiting with negative remarks. It still stands, though, that the Wheel of Fortune PS3 release truly is “hit or miss”.

I’ll actually start with the end of the review here and say that, despite some issues, I enjoy the game quite a bit. Now, with that being said I can go ahead and discuss some of those aforementioned issues, right?

The first area where I have complaint with the title is the utter lack of hosts or voice-over work. I’m really not sure why Pat and Vanna are missing. I would think they would be part and parcel for the license package as I see them in the slot-machine versions of Wheel of Fortune al about town. I can’t see there being some huge likeness rights concern, but I could be wrong. Nonetheless, leaving the game devoid of any sort of host really kills the personality of the game. This could have been resolved with a simple voice-over from anyone, I don’t care who they are. All of the other sounds straight from the television version are there, so why can’t we get some semblance of a host?

The other area of note where things just did not jibe right with me was the character animations for your in-game avatar. At first look, they appear to me models based on Sony’s Playstation Home avatars. The biggest issue, though, would be that it seems that every avatar has about 4 functioning joints in their bodies, creating very stiff, lifeless movement. I won’t even go into what I have dubbed “synchonised wedgie surfing” where all three avatars shift from side to side in unison while standing idle. Certainly, character animations are not the heart of the game, but given that we do have to look at them for a good portion of the game it is hard to overlook.

Wheel of Fortune PS3

Graphically almost everything is stunningly rendered, with the exception of some clothing clipping on the characters again. It would appear that a good amount of effort was put in to make each set and location look true to its nature. Rendering the game in high-definition, this effort put into the “sets” is noticeable. Again, it’s apparent that a good deal of effort went into bringing each locale to life with the variations on the set reflecting the city in which that particular round was taking place.

My final complaint is a very, very basic one. I note that it is “very basic” because it could either be something that players could care less about or could have been added by the development team very easily at the same time. When the camera is on the characters and we’re watching them spin or decide what to do next the puzzle is shown in the bottom, right-hand corner. However, missing from this window is the category of the puzzle. I found several times while playing the game with friends that I would end up wondering “What category was this again?” The only time you’ll see the category for the puzzle is when the in-game camera is focused on the puzzle alone. As I said, this could be easily overlooked by some gamers, but it also could have been easily added by the dev team.

The Review

Storyline:

It’s a classic story of boy meets vowel, boy buys vowel, vowel leaves boy. Okay, so I made that up, but what did you really expect here?

Gameplay:

Ignoring the character animation issues and the lack of any sort of host, the game plays well. Much better than the Jeopardy release, in my opinion. Time limits set for players to make their choice or choose their letters are pretty on-the-stop in keeping the pace of the game up to par without dragging it out at the same time.

Being able to play a quick, single event game or a “tour” of several locations affords the player the ability to either settle in for a decent length game session or play a quick, brief session on the fly.

Sound/Music:

As I said above, just about every sound from the television series has made its way into the game. There’s not really much that could have been improved and to that effect the sounds of the game play out well enough.

It would have been nice to at least hear a human voice at some point in the game, however. Because of this utter lack of voice-over or hosting I have to mark the score down a bit.

Graphics:

The sets and locations look great and have kept to the authentic Wheel of Fortune feel. The character animations look like they were slapped together in the last 30 minutes of development and tossed in so the avatars would at least move.

The Good:

Thousands of puzzles and a good selection of locations give the game a good deal of heft when it comes to the value for your dollar, especially if you are a fan of the game show already.

The Bad:

The lack of a host or, at the very least, a human voice-over causes the game to feel very impersonal and extremely devoid of character.

The Ugly:

Synchronised Wedgie Surfing? Seriously?! Those animations can actually be painful to watch.

Overall:

Fans of Wheel of Fortune will enjoy the game without a doubt. I’d also like to note that bringing these sorts of games to the Playstation Network is exactly what we need simply for the fact that it is nice to have something to bring friends and family together while playing a game.

I think the game would have been better priced at a $9.99 price-point rather than the $14.99 price it carries now and I would really like to see some automatic updates adding new puzzles on a semi-regular basis, but hey, that’s just me… right?

Final Vote: 3/5

What Others Thought:
TestFreaks: 6.5/10
MetaCritic: 5.5/10
GameStats: 7.4/10

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