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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Vivendi

 

Developer

Radical Entertainment

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

September 2003

 

 

- Authentic Simpsons cast and crew
- Excellent representation of Springfield
- Addicting gameplay
- Great combination of racing and adventure

 

 

- Cel-shading looks awkward
- Story ends fast (though lots to do afterwards)
- Some missions get frustrating

 

 

Review: Furious Karting (Xbox)

Review: Crazy Taxi 3: Highroller (Xbox)

Review: The Simpsons: Hit and Run (Gamecube)

Review: Prototype (360)

Review: The Simpsons Game (360)

 

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The Simpsons: Hit and Run

Score: 8.6 / 10

 

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For more than a decade and a half The Simpsons have rooted themselves as a part of our culture. Sixteen years of excellent writing, voice acting, and plot. It comes as a surprise that within those years, The Simpsons’ video game career has been rather listless, with only one game from the past that received any recognition, that being the infamous Simpsons arcade game. I remember playing that game almost daily at the nearby arcade, still today remembering exactly the way it was. In recent memory, The Simpsons games have all been absolutely dreadful, with their previous release (The Simpsons: Road Rage) as a prime example. Thankfully, every series of events has at least one standout after a drought of…crap. That’s where The Simpsons: Hit and Run comes in to save us from that pattern, and

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deliver some of the finest gameplay seen in quite a while.

The story takes place in present Springfield when, out of nowhere, a swarm of Wasps (robots that look like wasps and have cameras) infest Springfield and spy on people. It is your job as Homer to figure out why they are here and where they came from, and to get rid of there violent presence. This sounds simple and two-dimensional, but that’s

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because I don’t want to blow the story. There are many other sub-plots that are found through different characters. The five main characters that are controlled are Apu, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Homer. Each character has their own set of missions and back story, Homer’s is given above since he is the primary character.

First of all, Hit and Run is not a replica of Grand Theft Auto. It is a hybrid of Grand Theft Auto and Super Mario 64 that is twice as scandalous as GTA, and just as pleasurable as Mario. To ensure the blend works properly, the entire Simpsons cast and crew contributed in some way to this game. The best aspect is the sound and voices of Hit and Run. All of the same voice talents of Dan Castenella, Hank Azaria, and others, are fully implemented with some memorable one-liners, as well as newly recorded lines specifically for the game. The music of the game is just as impressive with the rhythm and tunes changing with the character you control. Driving around with Cletus you hear a fast-paced banjo tune, and with Bart you hear the rebellious solo of the guitar, for example. A downside to the music is that there is no radio feature, and that the music played cannot be changed. Though the music doesn’t get irritating, it would be a comfort to be able to change tunes.

 

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A Simpsons game wouldn’t be complete without accurate representation of the characters through cel-shading. The new technology that has allowed cartoonists to transfer their 2D characters as 3D models is a meticulous task that doesn’t always come out clean-cut. This can be seen with most of the characters in Hit and Run. With exceptions to only a few, most of the Simpsons characters look bleak, dull, and lack a lot of detail. The mouths move like nutcrackers during cut scenes, and facial details (such as hair) is made too thick for the fragile characters, giving them an awkward feel. During rapid gameplay one forgets about these flaws, and it doesn’t stop anyone from having a good time, but the cel-shading could’ve been done a tad bit better.

Now down to the major aspect of the game that has buried the past Simpson games in the past, gameplay. Thankfully, the developers were willing to attempt something new with the Simpsons franchise, and that is to have a racing/adventure game. This is quite possibly the best blend of those two aspects seen since the birth of the Grand Theft Auto series. Previously I mentioned that this is a completely different game then GTA, which it is, but it’s easy to see that Hit and Run “borrowed” some of its features. When driving, the car controls are kept simple with a brake and gas. Turning and quick stops differ from vehicle to vehicle, so getting the right car for the mission is critical. Doing so is just as easy as driving the car, simply by stopping at a phone booth (reminiscent of GTA) you can either purchase cars or use previous unlocked cars. Receiving new cars requires tokens (little gold coins that have a distinct resemblance to those in Mario) which can be found throughout the world. Finding the coins can be a hard task, but with every hard task comes great rewards. Finding some well placed coins will give you, well, more coins, but also a view of Springfield or a practical joke seen in one of the past episodes. In conclusion, work hard for those coins!

The Simpsons: Hit and Run is a delightful addition to anyone’s library, especially those who are die-hard fans of the genre. Even if you are a casual Simpsons viewer, understanding the jokes and learning new ones is fun and knowledgeable. The game should last an average player quite a while with plenty of hidden secrets and bonuses for completion.

- Eric Lahiji
(October 16, 2003)
 

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