The Simpsons: Hit & Run
The Simpsons s the funniest thing on TV. Fact. Matt Groening's legendary cartoon series is rich with immense characterisations, from Krusty the Clown and his love of porn to the incomparable comedy genius of Homer Simpson and his mortal fear of sock puppets. But, however amazing the series is on your goggle-box, the recent wholesale ripping-off of game ideas for The Simpsons: Road Rage (Crazy Taxi) and The Simpsons: Skateboarding (Tony Hawk's Pro Skater1) on console has left a taste in the mouth as bitter as one of Apu's famous chutney squishees.
So, how is The Simpsons: Hit & Run? Well, to say it borrows from Grand Theft Auto would be an understatement on a par with mentioning that Barney Gumble likes the odd tipple, but Hit & Run is actually a bundle of fun and could actually be The Simpsons' best videogame outing yet. For starters you have a gorgeous, cel-shaded 3D Springfield to explore on foot or by vehicle, complete with famous landmarks such as the Bowl-a-Rama, Mr Burns' nuclear power plant and the Simpsons' family home. You can even enter some of the buildings, so a visit to Moe's Tavern will allow you to have a play on the Love Tester machine, catch Bumblebee Man on his break and see the poster adverts for The 7 Duffs that include Sleazy, Queasy and Remorseful.
Then there's the fantastic voiceacting from Dan Castellaneta and all the regular cast from The Simpsons, with some genuinely laugh-out-loud dialogue created by the series' writers, including Homer's aside about stupid Flanders getting happiness from religion and Principal Skinner's warning to Bart that he'll get him just like I got Charlie in 'Nam".
Certain phrases start to grind after a while (Bart's don't have a cow, man" springs to mind), but there's enough variety to keep you playing in search of more sick jokes and brutal one-liners.
Hit & Run's gameplay is generally based around simple story-driven missions for the main characters of Bart, Lisa, Homer, Marge and Apu, involving timed tasks, ranging from collecting copies of the violent videogame Bonestorm II by crashing the Simpson family car into the delivery van, to rounding up escaped simians from Dr Nick's Screaming Monkey Medical Research ntre. Navigating around Springfield is simple enough with ap in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, but just to make sure, developer Radical has placed giant green arrows on the road pointing you in the right direction.
In addition to the main sections, there are a heap of bonus missions you can complete, which include street racing, destroying flying waspcams (part of the ridiculous plot), pulling off successful visual gags and finding special Collector Cards (see 'Worst. Episode. Ever' box). However, you also have the Hit & Run random element from the game's title, which involves a hectic car chase around Springfield if you commit a crime within donut-eating distance of Police Chief Wiggum - get caught, and you're busted and slapped with a heavy fine.
Each of the playable characters has access to over 40 vehicles from the show, including Homer's Mr Plow snow vehicle and Cletus the slack-jawed yokel's pick-up truck. But you can also stop and get in any car you like, such as Comic Book Guy's Fat-mobile, although in a distinctly crime-free twist, you sit in the passenger seat next to the character.
Some PC gamers will hate the idea of The Simpsons: Hit & Run - basically, that it unashamedly uses the GTA model and jemmies The Simpsons licence into it. Yet, despite that, Hit & Run actually turns out to have a great deal of charm - even though it'll probably only entertain you for a day or two at most. The car handling is somewhat sluggish compared with other driving titles and the camera often wanders off into uncharted territory when you go on foot -especially in the uninspiring platform sections.
While The Simpsons: Hit & Run may not win any gaming innovation awards, for fans of the series the opportunity to take a virtual tour around a fully-realised Springfield will be harder to resist than a gigantic fresh donut with chocolate sprinkles and icing. Mmmm... plagiaricious.
Download The Simpsons: Hit & Run
As Our Own Mr Sefton said in his original review of Hit & Run, The Simpsons is the funniest . thing on TV. As a result, it's packed with the best one-liners in history and although, "there's nothing better than a cigar lit with a hundred dollar bill" might not be one of Krusty's finer efforts, nothing could be more apt.
Since its release over a year ago, Hit & Run has been selling enough to keep the brains behind it in doughnuts for the rest of k their life, their children's lives and their I children's children's lives. You get the idea. Is it good enough to warrant the hysterical spending? Well, sort of. You see, with the talent from the TV series providing their services in terms of script and voice-acting, it's laugh-out-loud funny enough to forget that essentially all you're getting is a sub-GTA/Crazy Taxi rip-off. And you get to kick Flanders up the arse.
The Simpsons have been through it all. Identified early on as the worst family in television, they're now hailed by many Christian groups as the ideal family. Go figure, huh? One thing The Simpsons franchise lacks, however, is a decent video game. Make no mistake, there have been numerous attempts over the years, but none have really been able to combine a decent game along with The Simpsons license ' until now, that is. The Simpsons: Hit and Run is the best Simpsons game to date, but does it hold appeal for everyone?
At first glance, The The Simpsons: Hit and Run looks like a Grand Theft Auto 3 clone, and in many ways it is. Take away the excess violence and hookers, and you'll have The Simpsons: Hit and Run. It's an unlinear, free-roaming, missions-based game with an interactive environment in the Simpsons world. Unfortunately, not everyone likes The Simpsons (I don't know any, but I trust they're out there), and because of that, there are two camps here.
**Simpsons Fans This is the game you've been waiting fourteen long years for. The free-roaming environments and GTA-inspired gameplay works really well in The Simpsons: Hit and Run. More importantly, it complements the humor of The Simpsons incredibly well. Just about every character from The Simpsons makes an appearance in some form or another, whether they're playable characters or just pedestrians on the streets. The humor of the show is completely intact in Hit and Run; from the hilarious one-line quips to the more subtle jokes you'll find around town, you'll be laughing throughout the entire game. The graphics and audio also complement The Simpsons license really well. It feels like a Simpsons episode, and is probably the main selling point for any Simpsons fan.
Chances are you'll see through the wonderfully created Simpsons' world and notice the flawed gameplay. While the world in The Simpsons: Hit and Run is interactive and very funny, the core gameplay is far too repetitive. In total, there are about five or six different type of missions and by the third or fourth level, things start getting monotonous. Granted, if you're a fan, you'll probably laugh it up too much to notice. Not everyone can appreciate the humor of the Simpsons though, and for you few, The Simpsons: Hit and Run will be a bit flat.
The Simpsons: Hit and Run is the first Simpsons game to take full advantage of the Simpsons license, combining fun and addictive gameplay with the witty (and sometimes juvenile) humor of The Simpsons. Still, it won't be for everyone. The bottom line: if you can't appreciate the show's humor, there's not much for you in The Simpsons: Hit and Run. But then again' who doesn't like the Simpsons?