Review: Simpsons Road Rage
Posted 12 Nov 2002 at 07:57 by Andy
Although incredibly popular worldwide 'The Simpsons' has only ever had a lukewarm relationship with the computer games industry. This is by no means unusual, many games based on Movies or TV series have been less than inspiring for years now. What could set The Simpsons Road Rage apart from others though is the fact that it already uses a well-known gaming type. No, not as you'd expect a platformer, but refreshingly, a mission based driving game.
Fans of the series will be delighted to be able to drive around the town of Springfield and pick-up its many residents all in glorious 3D. It's hard to explain just how wonderful it looks as even the screenshots do little justice to The Simpsons hometown. Everything's here and if you wish there's an option available that allows you to simply drive around and enjoy the sights. In addition you can interact with up to 30 Simpsons characters who although they all feature limited animation (simply jumping in and out of your cab) still look great. A real highlight for Simpsons fans everywhere will be the intro animations, which are also in 3D, explaining the plot of the game and just why you're required to set up this taxi firm in the first place.
As you'd expect you get the usual car related sounds including speeding engines, skidding tires and er.. crashing into things. What you don't expect are original voices and there are plenty of them. It appears that almost the entire cast recorded exclusive dialogue for this title and to be honest this is what really sets this title apart. Nearly all of us have suffered through movie or TV tie-in games with voice actors trying to replicate the actual stars because of contract reasons. Initially toy can choose to be any one of five of the Simpsons clan but why not take Homer's taxi for a spin first and realise that his attitude is spot on for most real taxi drivers around the world.
The main object of the game is simple - collect taxi fares in the allotted time limit. Actually achieving this is significantly more difficult and as Springfield is a cartoon town anything really can happen. Firstly potential passengers will not only call you but they're also circled just in case you miss them. Stop within their area and they'll jump in initially informing you where they want to go and then chatting about... well, everything. It's here you're treated to some wonderful banter with everyone talking just as they would in the TV show. As long as a passenger is in the car you'll be getting paid and your score will steadily rise. You're also given a time limit for any trip and if you're too slow your passenger will simply jump out and your bonus will be lost.
Some passengers will also have other bonuses attached to them, which can increase your score significantly. First there's the 'avoid all traffic' bonus, which is worth $250, and speaks for itself really. Hit or collide with more than three other cars and your bonus dissolves instantly although success will also reward you with an extra 5 seconds. By far the most fun is the Road Rage 'destroy everything' bonus, which is worth an incredible $1000. This is available because of a unique feature in this title, which allows you to drive through and destroy almost everything. A word of warning though, too much debris on the road can really slow you down so only destroy objects if you need to.
The Mission Mode takes place over 10 stages and involves a variety of cars and objectives. For example the first one (Willie's Paper Shredder) has Groundskeeper Willie finding and destroying twelve paper shedders before the time runs out. The missions get progressively more difficult and some can be incredibly frustrating when you're continually searching for just one more item. Completing all 10 stages will unlock a custom car for Homer, which is faster than the standard family saloon so it's well worth the effort. Other bonus items can be unlocked throughout the game by earning $s so becoming efficient at picking up fares is a must. Finally the two-player mode simply requires an extra controller and involves you stealing fares off one another. Beware though because the driver who has the greatest knowledge of the area will reign supreme.
The Simpsons Road Rage offers good clean arcade fun from start to finish and rather than being the much-reported 'Crazy Taxi Rip Off' it's actually an improvement on the theme. The control system is deadly simple, anyone should be able to pick this up and play almost instantly. The big addition though is the fact that almost everything is destructible so by the time's up in any of the areas things can look a real mess. Great fun though.
You'll be whizzing around Springfield for quite some time as finding all the short cuts while trying to beat your high score is very satisfying. In addition you have six areas to race around and earning specific amounts of money allows you to unlock secrets such as additional cars or areas. The Mission Mode is not as immersive as that offered by Crazy Taxi but the two-player option is a welcome and addictive bonus and an extra controller opens up a whole new gaming experience.
If you've already purchased Crazy Taxi then there's little here to tempt you into buying what is essentially the same product unless, of course, you're a huge Simpsons fan. If, on the other hand, you are Taxi title free then don't be put off by the majority of critics as The Simpsons Road Rage is the better of the two and what's more it's a lot more fun.
N-Europe Final Verdict
An enjoyable Simpsons title... at last!. If you love the Simpsons, then this is the game for you!
Original TV voices
Just like Crazy Taxi
Can become repetitive
Just like Crazy Taxi...