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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action / Adventure

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Redwood Shores

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

October 30, 2007

 

 

- A terrific game-within-a-game-within-a-game story that brings creativity, fun and familiarity (so many cameos from Simpsons characters!) together that will delight fans

- Co-op doubles up the total of Simpsons fanatics that can enjoy playing at once

- Amazing use of animation that’s so good you can’t tell the difference between gaming graphics and television-quality animation

- Includes all the voices of the series’ cast

 

 

- Doh!-fully woeful camera at times that leads to many aggravating “deaths” due to bad camera angles

- No “hint” system to help figure out what needs to be done in certain puzzling instances to advance to the next episode

 

 

Review: The Simpsons: Hit & Run (GC)

Review: Tomb Raider Anniversary (360)

Review: Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (360)

 

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The Simpsons Game

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

For over 20 years on television, Homer Simpson and his clan have certainly put the dysfunctional in family. And for a while, any Simpsons-licensed videogame was a study in dysfunctional gaming design, with many bad and mediocre titles that certainly didn’t do the license any justice. Anyone remember Simpsons Wrestling? How about The Simpsons Skateboarding?

 

the simpsons game          the simpsons game

 

With the release of the summer blockbuster The Simpsons Movie, one might have expected the next Simpsons game to be a movie tie-in. Instead, Simpsons fans have been treated to an all-new game entirely, simply titled The Simpsons Game. And this game is definitely a fan’s delight, with one of the year’s best-written stories in all of gaming with great use of the Simpsons universe along with enjoyable co-op gameplay.

 

Any talk of how good The Simpsons Game is begins with the amazing “it’s a game-within-a-game-within-a-game-within-a-game” original story, which includes

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humorous plotlines involving Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Sims creator Will Wright and the ultimate creator, God. Hilarious, smart and full of Simpsons references that fans will love (including 8,000 lines of dialogue from the TV show cast members), this is one incredible tale driving the gameplay. There

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are also parodies galore, from Medal of Honor to Grand Theft Auto to Sony’s Shadow of the Colossus to Everquest to EA itself, in the four acts and 16 individual episodes that comprise The Simpsons Game.

 

In pairs, the Simpsons family adventures through the game, each having a special power that must be utilized for advancement from one episode to another. Marge uses her megaphone to incite crowds to do her bidding; Lisa uses her Buddha hand to lift and move objects; Bart uses a slingshot and his Bartman persona; and Homer uses his gluttonous girth as a Homer Ball to roll over and smash through objects and enemies alike.

 

Now, the action in The Simpsons Game isn’t anything special, as it follows a standard action game blueprint: fight enemies, solve puzzles and move to the next level. But it’s the Simpsons universe that raises the action to a more interesting and rib-tickling level. So much so that fans of the show will be in seventh heaven and, by the end of the game, in the actual heaven, battling residents of the Pearly Gates. Some heavenly bodies that the Simpsons will have to defeat include Ben Franklin and William Shakespeare before a final Dance, Dance Revelation showdown with God himself – who just happens to be a huge gamer, whiling away his time playing the game “Planet Earth” in his living room.

 

the simpsons game          the simpsons game

 

That isn’t the television series playing on your Xbox 360, although it sure looks like it. The Simpsons Game has incredible graphics that are straight out of Sunday evening’s weekly Simpsons broadcast. There is new animated footage, over 40 minutes worth, in the game. Strangely, there are a few cut scenes that pull out of the animated quality graphics and revert to some strange-looking visuals that don’t quite come close enough to the game’s other well-rounded visual look. Although Springfield itself, which gamers can roam around in while collecting hidden bonus items, is perfectly pastel-colored as it should be, as well as being surprisingly vast. The 16 levels are varied, too, so gamers won’t be replaying similar levels.

 

Co-op is a welcome part of The Simpsons Game package. Using a duo of Simpsons family members, two players can work in tandem during episodes to complete them. There are times, even with a playing partner, that it’s sometimes difficult to figure out exactly what the next objective is and what its solution may be, because there’s no “hinting” system in play for the most part. But two is definitely better than one, doubling the fun of the game while making advancing much easier.

 

There’s one major flaw in The Simpsons Game, and it’s one that not surprisingly plagues many action titles of similar design. The camera is Doh!-fully woeful! Gamers are supposed to be able to swing the camera around to give themselves a more advantageous look at their surroundings. Instead, the camera suffers from a drunken Homer stupor, swinging and bouncing about wildly, not allowing for proper placement to help gamers get through certain areas of a level.

 

Its gameplay isn’t any more innovative than the average action title, and the camera is as ridiculously dysfunctional as the Simpsons family, but the stellar story more than atones for it, as The Simpsons Game is the best Simpsons game to date, bringing Springfield and its denizens to life as never before.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(November 19, 2007)

 

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