Replay Value: 8.5
When I think of the Simpsons, I think mischief, comedy, entertainment, and fun. Bart causes trouble, Homer says something stupid, Ralph picks his nose, Barney gets drunk, and Officer Wiggins gives law enforcement a new meaning. All of these factors are a big part of what makes the show great and one of the longest running sitcoms on primetime television. But will they hold their ground in a video game? Game developer Radical decided to give it a shot.
Released September of this year, The Simpsons: Hit and Run is the embodiment of the television show. With character voices from the show and visually pleasing graphics, I actually felt like I was controlling my own Simpson's episode. The game is not at all serious in any sense, and there is plenty for you to do. There are gags hidden everywhere, from playing slot machines to discovering a frozen man in the freezer. (My personal favorite is catapulting a cat across town from the statue of Jebediah in Springfield Park. Meeeooooooowwwwwwwww!) But it seems that everywhere you turn, there is fun to be had.
Aside from all of the hidden gags, there are a lot of references to the television show and the longer you play, the more you find. Wherever you go, you see characters from the show (such as the guy in the bee suit) and random advertisements, for instance a billboard that reads, "Don't eat beef, eat deer meat." You can also change the appearance of your character, granted you've collected enough coins to buy the threads. Now who wouldn't love Homer running around in a muu-muu?
Hit and Run boasts a rather bizarre plot. Springfield is being invaded with mysterious black vans that seem to be spying on everybody. There are also "surveillance bees", cameras that take on the form of insects that hover around suspiciously. But don't fret; they're a piece of cake to defeat. As if that weren't enough to keep you busy, you have to complete tons of driving based missions, anywhere from keeping Smithers from going to work to out-running Principal Skinner. The controls are set up almost identically to the Grand Theft Auto series, so maneuvering your character isn't all that difficult.
Although there is a lot to love about Hit and Run, I noticed that there were a few components of the game that could have used a little more work. For starters, the game seemed too reminiscent of GTA and lacked a style of its own. It reflected GTA even down to the "wanted meter" and the control setup. I also felt that the missions were rather redundant and that chasing Smithers got a little boring after a while. It also seemed that the missions you were expected to complete were either too easy or too difficult, which can lead to a lot of frustration (trust me, a new controller is in store for me).
Overall, The Simpsons Hit and Run was a major improvement from it's predecessor, Road Rage. The graphics are nicely done (though the frame rate can be troublesome here and there), the voices and music are just right, and the game play is really quite entertaining. I'd recommend this title to all Simpsons fans, new or old, and anyone who was a fan of the GTA series. The Simpsons: Hit and Run is available for Playstation 2, GameCube and Xbox - you can't go wrong with any version.