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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Vivendi Games
DEVELOPER:
Radical Entertainment
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
September 16, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
The Simpsons Game

The Simpsons Game

The Simpsons Game

The Simpsons Game

The Simpsons Game

More in this Series
 Written by Alex Fitzgerald  on September 04, 2003

First Impressions: ?may not be worthy of a ?d'oh!?


In my opinion, the only show on TV that has ever been worth watching is The Simpsons. Unlike the thousands of other comedies on television, where writers simply fuse tired storylines with worthless unrealistic dialogue, The Simpsons writers always seemed to be able to fit in a wide variety of comedy writing styles into one 30-minute cartoon. Shock jokes, subtle comedy, character assessment, social evaluation...The Simpsons mastered it all.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, even if Fox doesn't see things that way. The Simpsons haven't cranked out a good episode in years, and now in the absence of series creator Matt Groening The Simpsons has been reduced to an endless charade of unbelievably dumb storylines that seem to have no other purpose than to fit in as many celebrity guest appearances as possible.

So with every Simpson episode sucking just a little more than the last is there anything left Simpsons fans to really sink their teeth into? Yes, there is, and it goes by the name of The Simpsons: Hit and Run, a new game from Vivendi Universal utilizing The Simpsons license set to come out this September.

Like many Simpsons games before it Hit and Run shamelessly rips off another popular license, this time the victim being Rockstar and their Grand Theft Auto titles. Just like GTA gamers will be able to go anywhere they want within Springfield, all the while jacking any car they want and causing any mayhem they please.

The advantage Hit and Run will have over the countless other GTA-imitators coming out in the coming months is that you will actually want to drive around Springfield. Other than being able to see a countless amount of areas ripped right out of The Simpsons shows (including the cemetery, Kwik-E-Mart, Moe's, and the power plant) you will also get the chance to run into more than 50 Simpsons characters. This is going to be one of the game's supreme joys simply because every character, from Millhouse to the comic book guy, is being voiced by their real voice actors ensuring that the voice acting is nothing short of the amazing stuff we've heard on the show for years.

Unfortunately, at this point in the development cycle, these characters don't look as good as they sound. Though its admirable that Radical Entertainment is trying to capture the spirit of the show in 3D, the textures so far are nothing to write home about. On the bright side the cars and characters displayed in the game are pretty detailed and good-looking. Who knows, maybe Radical Entertainment will pull a rabbit out of their hat and clean the textures enough so that they are comparable to the game models by the time that September rolls around.

Of course, there needs to be some kind of plot to tie all of this Springfield goodness together, and the current Simpsons writers have cooked up something to fill that very void. The game starts off with a cutscene showing from a bee's viewpoint the Simpson household. The bee swoops and dives predictably until it reaches the Simpsons family room, where Homer is predictably lying like a lump on a log on the couch. The bee dives in closer towards Homer, and without warning Homer throws his hand at the bee, effortlessly turning it into a bee pancake. The catch is though, The Simpson family along with Apu eventually discover that that wasn't any normal bee, but in fact a hidden camera disguised as a bee sent by the aliens Kang and Kodos. What is the camera for? Making a TV show of the people of Springfield of course! (A Simpsons television show? Who could be that stupid...)

In order to stop Kang and Kodos from successfully turning Springfield into a new Real World set you must take either Lisa, Marge, Bart, Homer, or Apu (sorry Maggie, no keys for you) and helming a car drive about the town doing missions. This is where Hit and Run starts to separate itself from GTA, in that the tasks you will do for the sake of advancing the storyline will be more like Driver than GTA. Over 7 levels, which contain 8 missions each, you will race, chase, smash, and run from cars in order to get a mission complete message on your screen.

Other than the story missions you will also be able to do bonus missions, street races, and "gags". Though the first two are self-explanatory normal additions to GTA-like games, "gags" are unique to Hit and Run. What a gag is basically is when you sight a hidden joke within the game.

Even though The Simpsons has never been the most family acceptable program out there the show has never been as violent as GTA. So, as you may have expected, some changes have been made to the GTA formula to make it more interactive Simpsons and less crime spree simulator. One of the changes that you'll notice right off the bat is that when you hit someone on the sidewalk instead of painting the pavement with their insides they will instead bounce off your car, Spy Hunter-style. Another change that's almost as easy to spot (and should be really easy for you to spot considering I mentioned it earlier) is that the missions in the game are more car driving oriented, as opposed to GTA where missions are driving oriented till you get to your destination, when the game becomes killing oriented.

Not all of the changes being made to the GTA recipe involve cutting and slashing though, as Radical is also planning to add things to the GTA mix as well. For example, Hit and Run is going to contain platforming elements that are very un-GTA like. In order to get to many of the game's secrets gamers will have to scale buildings in Springfield, utilizing double jumps and other gameplay mechanics very reminiscent of the platforming genre.

Another thing that GTA never had was so many unlockables to please fans. By running over people and causing mayhem all over Springfield players will get virtual cash that they can use to get bonus clothing and vehicles from the vast Simpson world. To top it all off, gamers will also be able to collect Collector Cards, which all represent an individual Simpsons episode complete with pictures and favorite lines. Let's just hope they make the cards of the older episodes easier to find than the ones for the newer shows.

Final Thoughts
Simpsons games have always been hit or miss, but given that nothing catastrophic happens to The Simpsons: Hit and Run fans of the series will have something to sink their teeth into come this fall. Despite the lack of an in-game map and good textures, Hit and Run's mixture of vehicle chaos and Simpsons flavoring should be enough to form a solid title. Now if we could just pretend that Simpsons Skateboarding never happened...


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