The game itself is rather simple. The contestant is presented with 12 strangers and a list of twelve identities. For each correct guess they move up the money ladder. Correctly identifying all twelve strangers is a $500,000 payoff. They have one mistaken identity in their pocket, so the first miss is a freebie. But a second miss sends them home with no cash.
To aid them in their quest there are two helper options. With "tridentity" they can pick one of the identities and the field will be narrowed down to three potential correct answers. There is also a panel of experts that includes a body language expert, a psychologist, and an fbi agent.
The difficulty of the matches is varied. Both games from the first episode had some very obvious identities. As the field gets narrowed though, the identities get more vague and an element of guessing/gambling enters into the equation.
The thing that is really intriguing about the show is that I think someone can actually go all the way and win it. That's one of the big problems with Deal Or No Deal and 1 vs 100. The design of those games almost guarantees that nobody is ever going to win the top prize. The idea of including celebrity guests is a nice hook too. From the previews, Stan Lee is going to be on an upcoming episode as the creator of Spider Man. I'm curious to see whether the contestant recognizes him right away.
The show does suffer from two of the issues that plague its peers. Jillette explains the rules over and over, just like Howie and Bob do. We get it, the contestants get it, the strangers get it. Quit beating us over the head with it. They also have the ridiculously long pause before the reveal of the answer. I gather it's supposed to create added tension and drama, but after three or four times it's more annoying than anything.
Specific to the first episode, I thought the first game was much easier than the second. I guessed ten of the twelve easily, though that was helped by the fact that I've seen Mr. Moviefone interviewed before. The two that I had mixed up were the heart transplant patient and the scientologist. Those were generic enough to go either way.
The second game had much more vague identities, and a couple of them were not at all what you would expect. The pro bull rider totally bamboozled me. I've watched hours upon hours of PBR on VS and never seen female bull riders. Far and away the toughest one though was the termite inspector. Holy smokes, that's the hottest termite inspector ever. It was nice to see Eve Plumb (Jan on The Brady Bunch) there. She's looking pretty good for 48.
Overall, Identity is a solid show. I prefer it to Deal Or No Deal and 1 vs 100. It's not the kind of show that I would make a point of watching, and if Two and a Half Men had been new I would have watched that instead. But as a once in a while special event, scheduled in the off times, it's a fun distraction.