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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
Vivendi Games
DEVELOPER:
Radical Entertainment
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
September 16, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
The Simpsons Game

The Simpsons Game

The Simpsons Game

The Simpsons Game

The Simpsons Game

More in this Series
 Written by John Scalzo  on July 10, 2003

First Impressions: I make more Simpsons references before 6 AM than most people do all day.


Since number three and Vice City were released, the Grand Theft Auto series has risen from a fairly obscure corner of the video game world to the pantheon of "spokes games," like Super Mario Bros, Mortal Kombat, and Tomb Raider did before it. And like any game that is larger than life, it will earn competitors, like Mafia and True Crime L.A., and it will be mocked in other games like this particular one, The Simpsons: Hit and Run.

The Simpsons have a long and loving history with the mob. Fat Tony has been a fixture at mayoral events since the very beginning, and has provided the schoolchildren of Springfield with fine rat's milk for many years. And even the poison fist of the Pacific Rim, the Yakuza, have sponsored a Pita bus business run by the local investment club. But unlike in Grand Theft Auto, the story of Hit and Run will not focus entirely on the mob connection. The current writing team of The Simpsons has crafted a story of missing people, mysterious crop circles and hidden cameras. Naturally it's up to Homer Simpson to find out just what is going on in the town of Springfield.

Few people will argue that the current writing team behind The Simpsons can hold a candle to the team of many years ago that was headed by the king of late night, Conan O'Brien. But occasionally they can pull off a gem of an episode, and with Hit and Run the writing crew will all get their chance. The entire Simpsons writing team is behind all of the (closely guarded) storylines and dialogue that will make their way into Hit and Run. Naturally, our favorite family will also be supplied with the voices that we all know and love. The entire cast has signed on to supply the voices of The Simpsons and the rest of Springfield's cartoon town.

Another important piece of Hit and Run is the return of Radical Entertainment as the developer. Code Monkeys developed the previous Simpsons game, Simpsons Skateboarding. And it would be generous to call that game a complete failure. But before that, Radical Entertainment made the underrated Crazy Taxi-inspired Simpsons: Road Rage. While Road Rage was very obviously a Crazy Taxi clone, it had its charm and was able to truly capture the feeling of The Simpsons' flair. For Hit and Run, Radical is even dusting off the Road Rage engine and enhancing it to make the driving even better. Among the tweaks include an enhanced traffic A.I. that reacts better to your driving than in Road Rage, and the walking enhancement that will allow you to explore Springfield on foot (according to Radical) for the first time.

Beyond the Grand Theft Auto comparisons though, Radical is being rather close-lipped about much of the game. We know a lot of numbers at this point, but not a whole lot of details. For example, we know that the game will feature five playable characters in the single player game: Homer, Bart, Apu, Marge, and Lisa. These five characters will have to move through seven different levels and 56 different missions to find out what's going on in Springfield. And just one more shot at the new writing team, if it turns out to be some stupid "reality" TV show like that one episode of The Simpsons last year, I'll hurt somebody. The game will also include a four player multiplayer mode that will allow players to get behind the wheel with 17 different Springfieldians including the Comic Book Guy, Cletus, and Principal Skinner.

Radical has also stated that a lot of the appeal for this Simpsons game will emanate from all of the little gags and jokes they plan to throw in that "reward fans of the show with bonus material from the last 14 years." GameSpy talked one of these in-jokes about recently. The boys at Radical told them that Hit and Run will include a card collecting side quest, much like Grand Theft Auto's package collecting missions. Each card will contain a scene from a particular episode, and when you collect each of the cards, an exclusive episode of Itchy and Scratchy will be unlocked. In an inspired bit, Radical revealed that one of the cards would be hidden under the head of the statue of Jebediah Springfield. And just like in that great episode from the very first season, the only way to get it is to cut his head off. This act truly embiggens the spirit of The Simpsons.

Final Thoughts
While Hit and Run takes plenty of cues from Grand Theft Auto, it looks as though Fat Tony and the rest of Springfield's mob community will have very little to do with the game. But it also appears that the game won't suffer because of that, and the oddball humor of The Simpsons will shine through with a story of crop circles, disappearing people, and no doubt, Kang and Kodos. We'll see what Radical has up their sleeve come this September. But at the very least, Hit and Run looks like it will capture plenty of the famous Simpsons wit. Hopefully it will capture some of Grand Theft Auto's great gameplay as well.


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