Hey, Hey, Kids! Find out if Simpsons Hit & Run is a smash success!
Over the years, many games have tried to tap into the lucrative Simpsons franchise without much success. Finally Radical Entertainment has created a game which truly captures the essence of the hit TV show. Borrowing heavily from the GTA series and adding a healthy dose of humor, Simpsons Hit & Run drives right into the town of Springfield at top speed.
The story begins with the appearance of hidden cameras and mysterious black vans spying on the good citizens of Springfield. In an attempt to discover the secret behind these ominous signs, players take control of Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge and Apu over the course of seven levels. The gameplay is ripped right out of Grand Theft Auto, allowing players to hop in any car on the street, beat up passers-by, and avoid the police after causing too much wanton destruction. Each level contains seven primary missions which include racing other characters, collecting and delivering goods, and even destroying other vehicles on the road. In addition, there is a bonus mission in each level, three extra races and a plethora of goodies to discover and collect.
The mission structure is completely linear and nearly identical from level to level. Of course, you can strike off on your own at any time, but the amount of hell you can raise is severely limited. If the cops do come after you, they give you a simple $50 fine and send you on your way. There’ll be no epic chases in this game. While each mission is entertaining in its own right, they quickly become repetitive. The camera works well when driving around town, but becomes a problem when traveling on foot, especially close to a building or other obstruction. It’s not terrible, but it is pesky. Additionally, there are some frame rate problems but they’re rarely significant. Other than these issues, the game plays very well and looks good to boot. The graphics are done in a style reminiscent of Homer’s foray into the 3-D universe and they complement the GTA-style play well.
The truly remarkable feature of Hit & Run is its ability to bring Springfield to life. Unlike Road Rage, you won’t be constantly assaulted with the same cheap one-liners (although there are a few). The game was actually penned by the writers of the show and all of the voice-work is authentic. This high level of care shines through. Even if you do get a little bored with having to run yet another race, the snappy dialogue and constant influx of characters will keep you driving merrily along your way. Each playable character begins with his or her own vehicle, from Marge’s Canyonero to Bart’s Honor Roller. There are several vehicles, each with specific stats, to collect in each level in addition to the generic cars you can pick up off the street. Instead of having a garage to store your cars, there are phones booths littered across the levels. One quick call and you have access to your entire stock of automobiles. Each character also has several different outfits for sale. Occasionally a mission will necessitate the purchase of a specific vehicle or set of clothes which keeps the game fresh.
In each level there are a number of gags and collector cards as well. Gags are little jokes to find along the way such as Jasper in the frozen food section of Apu’s or playing the slot machine at Moe’s. Collector cards feature episode specific references such as Jebidiah’s head or the “angel” skeleton. Although these aren’t necessary to complete the game, they’ll keep the treasure hunters happy and have you chuckling to yourself. The game is legitimately funny and it’s the trademark Simpsons humor that drives the game forward.
Hit & Run really is the finest and most accurate Simpsons game produced to date. Although, some of the gameplay elements wear thin after a while, you won’t have time to notice through all the giggling you’ll be doing. It’s worth a purchase to any Simpsons fan and at least a rental for anyone else.