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Gamecube Reviews: The Simpsons Hit & Run


The Simpsons Hit & Run Screenshots

The Final Say!

The Simpsons Hit & Run - reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: February 2004
Review Score: 9.5/10 
Distributor: Vivendi Universal

"Bart Simpson - I hurt my ovaries!"

The Simpsons Hit & Run was one of the biggest sensations to land on the PlayStation 2 and XBox in 2003 and now it's time for GameCube owners to finally find out what all the fuss is all about. With just a touch of Grand Theft Auto and a heavy dosage of Simpsons humour, you have one of the most addictive and entertaining car games of all time.

The storyline behind this current game, although a little "clichéd" is about how the town of Springfield has been plagued with bees and secret black government operation vans that have been spotted throughout the town. Upon further investigation, it is discovered that these bees are in actual fact mechanical bees with hidden cameras and have been spying on all the inhabitants of Springfield. Fortunately for the denizens of Springfield, The Simpsons family are on it!

The Simpsons Hit & Run  is a combination of arcade, racing and adventure games that is set in the Simpsons universe of Springfield. Gamers get the chance to play all four members of the Simpsons family that includes Homer, Bart, Lisa and Marge with various shared mini-quests that include characters such as Milhouse, Apu and even the comicbook guy.

The gameplay of Hit & Run is extremely varied and entertaining that contain a plethora of activities such as destroying vending machines with either your car or your fists, performing missions (such as driving to the Quickie mart to collect ingredients for Marge), spying on Mr. Burns, walking around, jumping, collecting monkeys for Doctor Nick and a variety of other missions that have been taken directly from the popular comedy series.

The first character that you play in this addictive title is Homer Simpson who must engage in a variety of different missions before the next area and character is unlocked. Apart from the Grand Theft Auto style-esq levels, Homer probably has some of the funnies missions that include collecting road kill from resident Springfield yokel Cletus, to help keep Crusty burger in business. Whereas other missions include racing against black government vans, running Mr. Smithers off the road and of course destroying all surveillance cameras at the nuclear power plant so that Homer can enjoy a peaceful nap at work.

Each character in the game also has a starting car, whether it's Homer's family car, Bart's soapbox derby racing car or Lisa's Malibu Stacy car, they are all unique and handle quite differently from each other. You can even carjack vehicles in the game, although it is not as violent as Grand Theft Auto. To carjack a car, your character must stand in front of a vehicle and push the action button to enter.

The game also boasts over 49 different missions and seven different levels that are based throughout the town of Springfield. Although the game may sound a little daunting, the developers have included a small map on the lower right corner of the gaming screen to help players navigate through the world of Springfield. Characters can also beat other Simpsons characters up and they even have their own special move such as Homer's special butt slam. I was practically in hysterics when I "accidentally" kicked Milhouse off a cliff while I was playing Lisa. Although no physical harm occurs to the characters, they do fall over and get quite angry. Money is another important aspect of the game and is achieved by destroying objects in the game, whether trees, vending machines or other cars and this money can then be used to purchase additional vehicles, clothes or even repair your current car.

Be warned though, the more people you accidentally drive over, the more weary the local police become and as soon as your metre fills up, Chief Wiggum starts to chase you through the streets of Springfield. If you do get caught, you are fined $50 dollars and you can continue with your mission. The save mechanism of the game is also great and it allows you to save anytime after you have completed the mission, if you save during a mission and quit, you will have to start again... a small price to pay but you do keep all your cash. One of the most impressive features of the game is that the original actors who play the characters in the television show actually lend their voices to this hilarious game. There dialogue is also scripted by the talented writers of the Simpsons that really pays homage to the fans. There literally hundreds of hidden jokes in this game and also various NPC (non-playing characters) from the television series such as Apu, the comicbook guy, Milhouse, Nelson and almost every other character from the Simpsons.

Graphically, Hit & Run is a visual delight and actually looks more real than the original cartoon series. The characters are extremely well modelled and actually look like their cartoon counterparts from the way they move to as mentioned before, the way they talk. There are also various costumes in the game that can be bought for your character. For instance, when playing Lisa, you have an option of purchasing the Lisa Cool costume and even her costume of Florida that was created by Homer for a school project. When you first play this title, you actually think that you are in Springfield and everything has been faithfully recreated, whether it's the Simpsons family home, the field of Tomacco or the secret Stonecutter's hidden tunnel, it all looks like it has been directly taken from the cartoon series. The frame rate of the title remains at a fairly constant frame rate but every now and then, the game does chug but considering how much is happening at once, it can be forgiven. There are also some great lighting effects in the game and of course some brilliant pre-rendered CGI scenes to help progress the story along nicely.

Although the musical score of the game is a little lacking, the exact voices of all the characters in the game make up for the lack of an inspirational soundtrack. As mentioned earlier, the actors that play these characters on the TV also lend their voices to the characters in the game that not only use catchphrases from the show but there are also a plethora of new comments. For example, if someone cheats when Homer is racing, Homer will say "he used a cheat code" or if you accidentally smash into something while driving with Bart, he will say "I hurt my ovaries" and moan. Quite simply put, the voice acting of this game is amazing!

The Simpsons Hit & Run may not be the most original game of the year but it's probably one of the most entertaining games of the year. With addictive gameplay, amazing graphics, hundreds of Simpsons in-jokes and perfect character acting, this game has it all. I would recommend this title to all gamers who love a fun game, especially those that love the Simpsons. Highly Recommended!

- Andrew B

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