Impressions: The Simpsons Game

So Sony finally gets a game demo out before Microsoft does and the first thing we hear is bitching. The Simpsons Game has already received a thorough thrashing by NeoGAF, key complaints being a shoddy camera and unengaging gameplay. I ask, what did you expect? Something revolutionary?

Expectations for licensed games aside, I really enjoyed what I played. The camera does need some work, though. In the demo level, a loose Shadow of The Colossus parody featuring Homer and Bart attempting to take down a living version of donut shop mascot Lard Lad, it often became tough to reconcile moving the camera around while trying to perform certain actions neccesary to complete the level. In order to defeat Lard Lad, you need to shoot hatches on his back and then climb up onto him and rip out the wires. You have to repeat this process three times with the hatch getting progressively higher on Lard Lad’s body.

bartruns_lardlad.jpg

Since the first is so low, it’s not that much of a problem to just run around behind him and shoot, but the others require that you navigate a network of rooftops and construction equipment to get into the right position. Meanwhile, the oversized boy robot is trying to thwart you by shooting laser beams out of his eyes. He actually tracks you quite well, making it harder to get a bead on his hatches with Bart’s slingshot the higher that you go. This is where the camera problems begin to kick in, because you can’t effectively lock-on and control the view at the same time. So it wanders by itself and you lose track of your position. If the lock-on function worked better, keeping the enemy in the center of the frame as it does in most games, it wouldn’t be quite as bad.

However, I really did appreciate the relative freedom you have in choosing how to send Lard Lad to the scrap yard. You can switch between Bart and Homer at any time (with the other being temporarily controlled by AI) and each has their own special techniques. For instance, Bart can float upwards on vents by opening his Bartman cape or whip out his grappling hook to reach out-of-the-way areas, while Homer can inhale helium gas and propel himself through the air for a short period of time. All three of these options are valid ways for accessing the upper hatches on Lard Lad’s body. Or you can get creative and use one of the two to lure him to a certain spot and attack with the other. To be honest, you only need to play as Bart in the demo, but I’m sure the final game with promote use of all characters.

There isn’t much to do besides trying to dismantle Lard Lad. There are a bunch of Mini-Krusty Dolls running amok that try to attack you, but they’re more of a nuisance than anything. You can pummel them for some extra power-ups that fill your special attack gauge, which might be necessary, since it can get depleted easily.

The gameplay pretty much amounts to small combinations on platforming and mindless brawling. That may leave some players feeling empty (and I’m not sure myself, the trailers seem to indicate more variety), but remember that the best Simpsons game of all time, Konami’s coin-up beat-em-up, is nothing but mindless brawling. The elements that really made that fun were the theming, graphics (at the time), and co-op play. These are all things The Simpsons Game shares with its predecessor, which is why it puzzles me that so many are already down on what it has to offer.

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I don’t care if the gameplay isn’t anything spectacular, because I’m totally into the level of detail EA has put into faithfully recreating The Simpsons’ universe. It’s right there from the opening of the game which features both the 20th Century FOX and Gracie Films bumps and segues into some excellent animation for all of the characters. Lard Lad really moves like he would in an episode of the television series, instead of some awkward and stiff video game facsimile. It’s all very convincing, and if you can move past the “3d-ness” of the environments, this is Simpsons through and through. The parodies are strong, the references plenty (its drenched in them, from the obvious to the most obscure), and how can you beat running around a ruined Springfield chasing a gigantic monster mascot gone mad with Kent Brockman periodically “reporting” from his news chopper high above the scene? It’s funnier than any recent episode of the television series (now where know where all the writers’ talent went!).

If this demo is any indication, The Simpsons Game falls prey to plenty of gaming conventions (cliches are even a collectible, called out by Comic Book Guy when you encounter them), but the spirit is certainly though. It goes without saying that, if you’re a fan, it’s worth looking into. If you don’t understand any of the references, then I suppose it was never meant to be.

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~ by Cavin Smith on October 6, 2007.

4 Responses to “Impressions: The Simpsons Game”

  1. […] Get the entire post from here. […]

  2. nice =D

  3. LOL

  4. YOU MUDDA FAKER

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