Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA Redwood Shores
N Amer - 10/31/2007
The Simpsons Game Review
Sure, The Simpsons is the longest-running TV sitcom ever, becoming a merchandising powerhouse, producing a successful feature film, and even a few albums and a dance in the early 90’s (“Do The Bartman” anyone?). The show has even spawned several video games throughout the years spanning genres from action to arcade-driving. Still, there doesn’t seem to be any slowing down in the cards for the franchise, as even now EA is releasing another game featuring the familiar dysfunctional family.
The Simpsons Game sounds like a lame tie in just on namesake, since it’s harder to imagine a more basic name for a Simpsons game than, well, The Simpsons Game. However, the game presents a living breathing Springfield better than any Simpsons game before it, allowing you to meet up with characters from the show, both familiar and esoteric, as well as devoting entire sections to single jokes from the show (like the Land of Chocolate). Not only that, but the game successfully lampoons the video game industry itself, with inside jokes meant for gamers, spoofing Katamari Damacy, Grand Theft Auto, and many cliches associated with gaming on the whole.
The game begins with the release of a video game that Bart is seemingly very excited with, Grand Theft Scratchy. However, the powers that be (namely Marge) tries to get game banned for minors. The Simpson family then actually discover that they are inside of a video game themselves, and thus capable of utilizing super abilities for their personal gains. However, this soon doesn’t matter, as aliens begin to attack Springfield, and the family becomes responsible for saving the world themselves.
The script elements are excellent, with quips and one-liners that could very well be on the show. The sense of humor has been ported over swimmingly in the game, and the little touches like video-game cliches (unlocked as you do them), which span everything from exploding barrels to invisible walls and non-swimming main characters, are an excellent touch.
However, where the script and presentation succeeds, the gameplay leaves much to be desired. While there are some puzzles to test your noggin, the majority of the game falls into standard platforming territory, requiring you to go through jumping sections (exacerbated by a lousy camera) and shallow button mashing combat.
Not to say that playing through the game isn’t very fun at times. You’ll be able to switch between the different family members, taking two predetermined characters into a level and having them use their unique super abilities at a given time to progress. Lisa’s ability is probably the coolest, allowing you to meditate and grab objects from the environment and reposition levels or knock around foes. A close second would be Marge’s, which lets you grab a megaphone and incite a mob into causing havoc.
Graphically, the game looks great, bringing the series quite well into high-def. The stylized cel-shaded look is very polished, and the animation looks pretty good. However, the environment really steals the show. Just about anything you could think to remember about Springfield is well represented here, with tons of little nuances that will have fans of the show cracking up left and right.
The sound is superb, with a great score that sticks with the theme of the show and original voice work done by the cast of the show, acted with the same enthusiasm as if they were doing an episode.
The Simpsons Game is a bit shallow on the gameplay side of things, and even though fans of the show will love the collectibles and deliberate cliches throughout, the overall feel will leave players wanting more. However, if you are a hardcore fan of the show, then this game would make for a fine weekend rental.
Review Scoring Details for The Simpsons Game
While the majority of the gameplay is pretty shallow, depending on repetitive jumping puzzles and weak combat, the two-character mechanic works well and collecting the unlockables throughout is very fun and engaging. The camera can be a pain.
Springfield is a fully realized city, filled with tons of nuances and details from the TV show. The character models are sharp and look great in high-def, and the 360 version moves along nicely at a good framerate.
The score sounds great and the voice acting done by the TV show’s cast is fantastic.
Perfectly mirroring the show’s wit and humor, The Simpsons Game really lets you feel that you’re right in the middle of an episode.
Drop-in drop-out co-op, but no online capabilities.
The Simpsons Game isn’t going to win any awards for original gameplay, instead banking on the license and deep elements of the subject matter to carry it through. However, if you know this going in and are looking for an experience that is made for fans of the show before fans of deep platforming gameplay, then The Simpsons Game will make for a great rental.
GameZone Review Detail
Everyone’s favorite TV family lampoons the video game industry in the way that only they can.
Reviewer: Steven Hopper
Review Date: 10/31/2007