Product Type: Electronic Arts Xbox 360 games
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The Simpsons Game (Xbox 360)
Member Name: samueltyler
The Simpsons Game (Xbox 360)
Advantages: A rare platform experience, great production values
Disadvantages: Limited level design, generic gameplay
There is only one type of gamer that comes close to being as lonely as the fan of the point and click adventure and that is a fan of the humble platformer. In the days of the Megadrive, Amiga and Super Nintendo you could not move for top quality platforming games. Such iconic heroes as Mario, Sonic and Zool ; ) all have their origins here. Even the Playstation 1 had its fair share of the genre with 'Medievil' and 'Ape Escape' to name two. However, sine the PS2 and Xbox the number of platform games has dropped dramatically with the First Person Shooter dominating the market. Even platformers such as 'Jak and Daxter' have morphed into more action games. Therefore, it is left to the poor movie tie-in game to represent the genre. This was the reason I rented 'The Simpsons Game' in the hope of some platforming glory - and I was surprised how good it turned out.
You begin the game at the Simpson's house and from here you are given access to a 'Grand Theft Auto' like sandbox experience, were you can visit all the different areas of Springfield. In this open world are various tokens to collect that can only be picked up by the 4 family members playable; Bart, Homer, Lisa and Marge. Each character has different powers e.g. Homer turns into a ball, Bart can glide, but all must navigate the game using the usual 3D platformer techniques. The town of Springfield only acts as a hub as certain areas of the map will allow you access to specific levels; many of which are spoofs of popular games and films.
In terms of platforming I was impressed that the game worked well with decent jumping and special powers. The gameplay is pretty generic and the camera was not always placed in the best viewpoint, but in a climate were so few games of this type are made this remains one of the best platform game on the 360 in terms of actual platforming. (4 out of 5)
With the official IP for 'The Simpsons' on board you would expect the game to have great characters and story. However, having played many tie in games based on great IPs I can tell you from experience that this is not often the case. Therefore, when I discovered that 'The Simpsons' game is written by the script writers of the show and all the actors are present I was pleasantly surprised. The characters are as usual excellent and they all act like they would do if it were the TV show. The real revelation is the post-modern storyline that sees the family Simpson becoming aware that they are in a computer game. This allows them to make fun of games in general; going as far as to save the 8 bit versions of themselves from deletion. With the cut scenes of a quality straight from the recent film and a script full of jokes aimed specifically at game geeks like myself - I was really impressed. (5 out of 5)
Like many cash-in games 'The Simpsons' has fallen into the trap of thinking that people will play a game for hours just to collect every last single bonus item. For a younger gamer who only gets a few games a year and plays them to death then perhaps this is the case. However, for the majority of people one playthru of this game will be enough and on that it is a relatively short game. It's an enjoyable experience whilst it lasted, but one that can be had over a rental period. (3 out of 5)
Another area that impressed me with 'The Simpsons Game' was the crispness and quality of the graphics. Being based on a cartoon the game is cell shaded and it works so well that you feel like you are in an interactive episode of the show. There was a limited amount of glitches in some areas, but nothing was bad enough to break the game. (4 out of 5)
Perhaps one of the weakest elements of this title was the limited imagination put into the level design. The actual locations themselves were fantastic from fantasy, a navel vessel, WW2 France, inside a mansion and even heaven. However, no matter the surroundings, the levels were all pretty linear with limited puzzles. EA should be commended for recreating Springfield so well, it is only a shame that they did not do more with the hub area to actually make players want to explore it. (3 out of 5)
With all the voice talent that have been in 'The Simpsons' for well over ten years present, the sound is great. Some of the most fun elements are the one-liners that the different characters say. This is done so well that if you walk past a character in the street they will utter a tagline from the show. The music is also very good and combined with the sound it is one of the elements that makes the game so immersive.
(5 out of 5)
'The Simpsons Game' is not the greatest game ever to come out of the 360, but in terms of platformers there is only the likes of 'Kameo' and 'Tomb Raider' than can beat it. It is for this reason that I give the game a 4 and not a 3 because I crave more titles like this. I am willing to overlook the limited level design and generic gameplay just because I love to play platformers. Therefore, if you are a younger gamer, or a fan of the genre or show, then this game is a worth rental, or even a cheap buy. (4 out of 5)
Maker: EA RRP £50
Amazon uk £34.96
Summary: A good game for fans of the platform genre