You know that friend of yours that has an absurd amount of knowledge with regards to sports trivia? The guy who's able to tell you who hit the game-winning three-pointer in the fifth game of the conference finals, and you wonder why he occupies his brain with so much useless information? Well, I’m one of those guys. So when Infogrames released Rules of the Game for the PC, I was just itching to showcase my talent. After all, besides “ESPN’s 2-Minute Drill” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – Sports Edition”, guys like myself have rarely had the opportunity to display our mad skills in a venue like this.
Developed by Random Games Inc., Rules of the Game is a sports trivia game that’s based on Robert Poole’s board game of the same name. Rather than duplicate its board game counterpart, the PC version of Rules of the Game plays out like a television quiz show, complete with set and host.
Rules of the Game consists of three rounds of sports trivia. As the rounds progress, the point value associated with each question increases while the allotted time to answer the question decreases. In “Win Ben Stein’s Money”-like fashion, each question is accompanied by a follow-up question, or in this case a bonus question. Questions fall under one of seven categories: Pro and College Basketball, Pro and College Football, Pro Baseball, Pro Golf and Miscellaneous. Perhaps this is simply my Canadian roots shinning through, but I can’t quite figure out why they didn’t include a Pro Hockey category in the mix. Instead, the hockey questions are relegated to the Miscellaneous category, alongside questions relating to soccer, darts, horseshoes, weightlifting, curling, and other various “sports.”
In total, Rules of the Game boasts over 1500 questions, but if that’s the case, the game does a poor job of queuing up the conundrums. It took only a few matches before the queries started to repeat themselves, making for an extremely shallow single-player experience. In the end, Rules of the Game broke the cardinal rule of trivia games: always include more than enough questions because it’s better to have and not need, than need and not have.
In the single-player mode, you can play against up to three computer opponents. Multi-player is also supported in the form of hot seat (two players at the same computer) as well as via GameSpy Arcade, which is included with the package. Finding an online opponent to play against is as easy as running into somebody at a showing of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. At no time was I able to find somebody in the GameSpy Arcade lobby to play Rules of the Game with.
To add insult to injury, Rules of the Game is hosted by Joe Banks, a fictitious host that gives “The Weakest Link’s” Anne Robinson a run for her money as the most annoying game show host of all time. His constant spewing not only fails to liven up the show, but it actually slows the gameplay down to a crawl. It won’t be more than a game or two before you turn his voice off. The rest of the game’s presentation is just as stale. The graphics are dated and the quality of the player animations is quite poor. There’s really nothing to praise in the presentation department, as even the sound effects are rather dull.
When the lights go out and the show comes to an end, Rules of the Game misses the boat completely. The window of opportunity is wide open considering the relative lack of sports trivia games available for the PC, however a lacklustre pace, suspect question selection, stale audio and visuals, and a lack of multi-player excitement all contribute to a shallow gaming experience. Considering the board game from which it’s based upon, I was expecting a lot more from Rules of the Game, but even with its budget price tag, you’d be much better off picking up said board game, or a copy of “ESPN’s 2-Minute Drill”.