There's always a period of time, typically shortly after an evening meal, when playing a board game with your peers seems desirable.
Perhaps it's the amiable conversation and subtle one-upmanship played out through the course of the day, or possibly that fourth glass of Pinot, but invariably you'll find yourself uttering with ill-deserved confidence the fateful words "Trivial Pursuit? Bring it on!"
If you manage to avoid the Lord of the Rings edition containing questions that even Tolkien wouldn't know the answers to, you can spend the next two hours bouncing from square to square whilst occasionally muttering "how in the hell should I know that?" You can choose to retain important knowledge learned throughout the game, or more likely forget it the second the answer card goes back in the box - either way you'll finish the game realising that there's an awful lot you don't know.
As Trivial Pursuit was first marketed in the early 80's, there's been video game adaptations for almost the entire life of the board game. Most of these, it's fair to say, have been fairly tragic. Many even rely on the honour system in lieu of multiple choice. Electronic Arts are the latest to give it a go, and what they've produced isn't half bad.
There's an almost formulaic method of measuring the success of any videogame based on Trivial Pursuit. First, you need to establish if there is any country-specific slant applied to the title - it's not much fun attempting to guess question after question on American College Football, for example. Nearly as important is the quantity of questions - if you get the same question twice in the same game it can be pretty disappointing, even if you've forgotten the answer. Finally, the look and feel of the game along with gameplay options - are the menus and animations snappy? Do the visual questions display well? Can I jump online and cheat by checking google and racking up achievements or trophies?
Although the answer to the latter is no (there's no online multiplayer component) EA's Trivial Pursuit scores highly in other areas. There's no real bias towards any country, and although you will find questions on American sports, you'll also find a few on New Zealand wildlife, so you won't feel cheated in this respect. The quantity of questions does need a little work - EA have already released a free update online that includes a stack of new film-based ones that can be imported, however personally I'm hoping there's someone deep within EA's offices feverishly tapping out a bunch more. The bad news? You'll have to pay for them. It will take you a little while to come across duplicate questions, but when you do you'll get that same sinking feeling you had in the PS2 versions of Buzz!, and the same comments of derision from your opponents who will rightfully feel cheated.
As for the presentation, Trivial Pursuit is a nice place to be. The game board is shown in crisp detail with full HD support, and your game token (or "puck") is moved with quirky animation on its trajectory around the wheel. The American presenter repeats himself too often and is more of a distraction than anything, but you can tune him out with a bit of practise.
Although the majority of questions are straightforward multiple choice, you will encounter visual queries that will have you identifying the answer based on a photo, or perhaps locating the answer on a regional map. These are great fun to participate in, but occasionally the geographic questions can be a little vague. You can, for example, be presented with a map of Italy minus any terrain or regional labels whatsoever, and be asked to select from two large markers placed closely together. Sure, I'd like to think I know where Turin is, but could I tell you down to a fifty kilometre radius from a map of the country with no markings? Probably not.
Minor niggles aside, this latest version of Trivial Pursuit is great fun. Notwithstanding the classic multiplayer mode, you can also participate in "Facts and Friends", which can pit you against other local players, all of whom share a puck. The idea here is to bet against the success of your friends, or upset their success by stealing points away at the last minute. The board even gets a slight modification - gone are the "roll again" squares from the conventional layout, as they've been replaced with various bonus squares such as "wedge challenge", where you can challenge your friend and ultimately steal their wedge, or "teleport" if you need to get to the other side of the board in a hurry. It's simply light entertainment based around the central concept of the game, but it's a good opportunity to rile up your friends.
If you push it too far and find yourself at home alone, you can still play a single player version. This is won by clearing the board of category spaces and setting a high score - there's also a time trial mode available too. It's pretty basic fare however, so it's best to consider this title as one that requires social interaction.
It's tricky rating a title such as this, but I think primarily due to the undersized pool of questions, it wouldn't be fair to push this past 7.5. If EA really get cracking with additional questions packs then this could be the definitive Trivial Pursuit videogame for some time to come, although I can't agree at all with the policy of charging for such content.