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The Simpsons: Hit & Run Review for Xbox
Posted on Monday, February 23, 2004 @ 08:40:46 pm E.S.T

Another Simpsons game, whoop-dee-do. Keeping in mind the quality of past Simpsons titles, Hit and Run didn’t exactly have my expectations set very high. On the contrary, Hit and Run manages to surpass any anticipation that it could have initially generated. It takes the formula of the ever popular Grand Theft Auto series and wraps The Simpsons universe around it.

Where previous Simpsons installments did a poor job of mimicking other game series (Road Rage and Crazy Taxi, anyone?), Hit and Run really captures the magic of the GTA series. The basic recipe is there, minus the excessive violence, hookers, guns and everything else Joe Lieberman blames the downfall of today’s youth on, and put in their place are the Simpsons.

Homer's muumuu brings back classic memories.
Homer's muumuu brings back classic memories.

You’ll play through replicas of the town called Springfield that we’ve all come to love, sections of which are split into levels. You’ll visit famous locales such as Moe’s, the Monorail (or what’s left) and the Power Plant. Each of these levels will have you playing as one of your favorite Simpsons (and Apu, to boot) performing a variety of missions. Side missions such as helping out fellow Springfielders with tasks like collecting crops, or competing in a street race against Patty and Selma help break up the action and give you something to do when you’re stuck in one of the many frustratingly difficult missions spread throughout the game.

Also spread out through each level is an assortment of other time consuming things to collect. Cards showcasing classic places, people and events from Simpsons history are fun to find, as are ‘gags’, which are little pranks you’ll discover. One allows you to pull the school’s fire alarm, and be rewarded by hearing Principal Skinner comes over the intercom and say, ‘Stay calm students, all is well in school. My rule as principal is total’, or another where you can cause a meltdown at the Power Plant. While these things only contribute to your level completion score, they’ll give Simpsons’ fans something to laugh at. All novel ideas, but when you actually attempt to find them all, the process becomes a real chore.

More goodies for Simpsons fans include environmental details, such as advertisements found from the TV series. My personal favorite is the ‘Don’t eat Beef. Eat Deer.’ billboard. Vehicles, most of which are inspired by those that have appeared in the TV show, are fun to drive and buy – you’ll sport such cars as the car Homer designs for his brother, the Globex car used to conquer the East coast, the Canyonero and, of course, the Simpsons’ car.

The main portion of the game consists of you performing missions for various Springfield residents, such as delivering Lisa’s project to her at school, collecting possessions Homer stole from Flanders and collecting laser guns spread across the city. While a novel idea at first, this process becomes extremely irritating as you go on, as each mission is one of two basic game styles – driving to a location or collecting items. This becomes further emphasized when you’re forced to repeat missions – and trust me, you will repeat missions. At certain points in the game, certain levels suddenly demand perfection, whereas the last 5 missions could easily be completed in one try.

Authentic voice acting really helps to suck you into Springfield, as does the excellent story and script. The game is outright hilarious; one such example is when Mayor Quimby holds a press conference to discuss the discovery of hidden cameras in mechanical bees – ‘These hidden cameras are an outrage! Spying on our women’s dressing rooms, locker rooms and bathrooms is unforgivable. I think I speak for all Springfielders when I say where is the sexy footage?’ However, as funny and well written the voice acting is, when you hear the same five comments from the same person twenty times, you will begin contemplating throwing a brick through your TV.

On the musical side of things, the small bits of music that exist are well composed and suit the situation well. Calm saxophone music populates Lisa’s levels while Hindu music fills Apu’s adventure. A few more tunes for each level would have been nice, as it gets annoying after a few missions.

The graphics don’t really impress but don’t fall short; they get the job done – they take the Simpsons and put them in 3D. Almost all of Springfield is replicated perfectly, from the Simpsons’ house to the Power Plant to the Monorail. The frame rate stays at a steady pace throughout the game with no noticeable slow down.

Apu just loves his cowboy hat.
Apu just loves his cowboy hat.

Controls are reminiscent of GTA’s, another kick back to Hit and Run’s roots. They work smoothly and are very responsive; after a few minutes (and a quick run through the tutorial level) will have you cruising around Springfield like a pro.

Hit and Run will manage to keep you busy for a while; each level has six or seven main missions, as well as bonus missions, street races, gags, bees to destroy, cards to collect, cars to purchase and costumes to purchase.

I still fail to see how it’s possible, but it seems that someone has actually managed to make a decent Simpsons game – hell, they made a good one. This one’ll have you playing for a while too, with its impressive replay value and strong overall package. This is a must have for Simpsons fans.

Review By: Chris Pereira - 1408 Reads

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