Apples to Apples Review
I have nothing against taking face-to-face games and making them into multiplayer video games, but some games are just better off being left in the physical world. Such is the case with Apples to Apples.
If you're not familiar with the meatspace version of the game, it's a card game played with a minimum of three players. There are two decks of cards - green cards contain an adjective and red cards contain a noun. Each round one player serves as the judge and draws a green card. The other players then select a red card from their hands containing the noun that they feel best fits with the adjective. The judge then selects the "best" response and that player is awarded a point for the round. Since there's never really a "right" answer, personality, humor, and creativity play a big role in the game, things that all come into play while playing the game face-to-face and that help make the game a natural for a family or friends game night.
The game essentially works the same way when played on Xbox Live, except that unless you're playing with friends with voice enabled you're playing with faceless and often silent strangers - and that's when you can find any other gamers to fill out the player slots using the game's quick match game finder. The game loses a lot when played with faceless strangers with nebulous personalities, so unless you have a group of friends on Xbox Live who love to play Apples to Apples you're probably not going to get much fun out of the multiplayer game. And if you bring friends together to play the game on one console, well, then you may as well be playing the actual card game.
The game supports a few variants on the basic rules, but these rule variants don't really change the online experience. Baked mode has the player who scores in a round taking the role of judge next instead of the judge's seta rotating around the table. In Crab mode players are supposed to focus on playing red cards that intentionally don't fit with the green card in play. You can also elect to allow golden cards to enter play. These cards affect the rules in some way such as forcing players to swap hands, lose a point, or lose a turn. Again, it's a lot more fun to play to play these cards on friends and watch their reactions rather than handing them over to strangers.
The game does have a single player mode, but I can't recommend the game to anyone looking to play it only as a standalone single player game. The judge in the single player game is one of a gang of AI-controlled apples and you'll need to select your answer to fit the current apple's personality. If the cowboy apple is judging, then pick the red card that's country or western themed. If the lion apple is judging, pick the animal related cards. You get the idea. Another level of mild challenge is added by a letter grid appearing in the center of the screen. You select the red card to play by finding the noun on the card hidden in the grid. Pick the right one and time is added to the round timer; pick the wrong one and time is lost. You win a round by answering the requisite number of question correctly before time expires. This mode will be a mild diversion for the fifteen minutes or so it will take you to play through all of the levels, but you probably won't be motivated to return to it after that.
Final Rating: 65%. Unfortunately, the fun factor of the card game versus its video game version is an apples to oranges comparison.