The Simpsons Game Xbox 360 Review

The Simpsons have been around a long time, some would say too long. There’s no denying there has been a definite slump in quality of the show and now they’re getting just as tiresome in other media too. How many Simpsons games have there been over the years? God knows, I’ve lost count, but one thing the majority have had in common is being shameless cash-ins. I vowed never to buy another Simpsons game because of this, although the last two weren’t bad they were highly derivative, crazy taxi and GTA clones we could do without really but what about this effort from EA?

Looking good

Without a doubt a first class job has been done of converting the show to video game format, visually it’s hard to tell the difference between the two, especially in the game’s cut scenes. These are some of the best cell shaded graphics you will see anywhere; everything is perfect, the characters, the scenery, everything, and this continues with the sound too. All the voice actors from the show have done their bit, along with music lifted right from the shows, the attention to detail is superb. They’ve even got the shows writers on side, who apparently created the game’s storyline. They might’ve wanted to get someone else in on that department though, the shows seen better days on the writing front, and I don’t think the story here even matches up to the dross they’ve been getting away with on the telly for the past few years. But you can’t say it’s not authentic, it has everything a Simpsons fan, what few of them there are left, could possibly want. Even non fans may find it fun for a while, it’s not the most original of games, but it borrows plenty from other games, so there’s a good chance that you’ll find something fun here.

Cliché ridden

Because it borrows so much it is a highly derivative game, but EA have tried to turn this in to a good thing by trying to send themselves, and the general medium of gaming, up. There’s no denying it has the same humour of the show, making as much fun of themselves as they do others, just as the show does with Foz, but I don’t think it works as well as they were hoping for. It is amusing the first few times when you ‘unlock’ one of the games clichés, but too many of them highlight the game’s shortcomings rather than add to the product. Invisible walls and not being able to swim aren’t good things in a game, no matter how you dress them up, and this just highlights a major failing. It is nothing new, not by a long shot, in fact, despite the exclusion of vehicles, it is very much another GTA clone, roam around Springfield completing missions and collecting tokens, that’s all there is to it. That’s not to say it hasn’t been done well, because it has, apart from some occasionally fiddly controls, but much like the show it is coasting along on the back of weak jokes. It’s a shame really, because there is a potentially great game here, but it’s been badly realised. With more thought and effort it could have been the perfect Simpsons game.

Fun for all the family

Despite being generic to the max it’s not a bad game, and it does something a Simpsons game hasn’t done since their very first game; co-operative play. In single player or co-op you take control of two members of the Simpsons clan, all with their own unique abilities, Bart has his catapult, Lisa her Saxophone, Marge a megaphone and Homer belches toxic fumes. That’s just to start off with too, as you progress through the story you’ll pick up new abilities and power ups to help you on your way. The real trick though is not utilising one particular character’s abilities, but combining them to overcome the problems the game throws at you, this is why it works so much better in co-op than it does in single player. It’s fun to play along with a friend, working together to uncover cliché after cliché, it may be generic stuff, but it works so much better with a friend. Playing alone you are left relying on the game’s somewhat lacklustre AI which just adds to your problems half the time, it’s just a shame there’s no option for online co-op play, it really can get quite dull playing on your own sometimes. There’s quite a lot for you to do though, although the main story isn’t very long, there are loads of items to collect, and plenty of menial tasks to do for the completists and gamerscore whores. It’s quite fun exploring Springfield anyway, there’s plenty of locations from the show to visit suck as the Kwik-E-Mart and Moe’s Tavern, but unfortunately there’s very little to do in these places. The feeling of emptiness is quite pervasive in general really, the town is big enough, there’s lots of places to go, but you never see many people on the streets, and apart from the main story missions, there just doesn’t seem like much going on.

Wasted opportunity

So much could have been done with this game that ultimately what we have ended up with is a disappointment, it’s not bad, but is way too similar to the last Simpsons game, ‘Hit & Run’. All they’ve done really is taken away the vehicles, added co-op play, changed the story and upgraded the graphics, sure the fans will love it, but they’d probably buy a turd if it had the Simpsons logo on it. Now EA have the Simpsons licence I guess we can expect more of these games in coming years, if that’s the case I just hope they do more with their next effort.

If you’re not a fan, then don’t bother.

6.2 out of 10

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