Tuesday 5 May 2015

The Simpsons Hit and Run Review (PS2)

In recent memory the Simpson’s licence has been tacked on to just about any old piece of tat going, from the ‘alleged’ ripping of the crazy taxi formula in road rage to rubbish wrestling games. In fact the last time the Simpson’s got a proper run out was way back in the days of eight bit gaming with platformer Bart vs. the Space Mutants.

One of the better attempts came in the form of this Grand Theft Auto based game. Now on the surface this may seem a strange choice and a fair few changes have had to be made to keep everything from getting too violent. So GTA without the violence in a Simpson’s world? Dear lord what have we let our selves in for?

Hit and Run may be a copy of yet another popular and commercially viable formula with a tacked on gimmick but it would be harsh to dismiss the title out of hand. In reality Hit and Run only borrows certain things from GTA and in fact bares little resemblance to Rock Star North’s classic title.

The game sets players a number of missions in a set area. Driving from one place to another and then driving somewhere else is generally all that is needed to complete these tasks. There is little in the way of the on foot sections found in GTA and even the driving missions are only recognisable in an abstract sense.

Each area of the game has players controlling one of the Simpson’s family as they go about their driving, once a set number of missions have been completed it’s onto the next area where a different member of the family does much the same. While there are things to do other than the main missions the freedom of other titles in this genre really show up Hit and Run, indeed apart from looking for collectible cards and the odd hidden gag event to trigger there really is not anything worth aimlessly wondering the streets of Springfield to find. This really effects the long term appeal as the missions will only take an experienced player a couple of days to get through.

However, what the game does, it does relatively well with the environment of Springfield well recreated with everything more or less where is should be and recognisable characters from the series all making themselves present at one point or another. The handling of the cars is very much in the realms of arcade, but the vehicles handle well and generally do what you want them to. At least the basics have been completed to a competent degree, something that cannot be said about almost every other Simpson’s title.

Unfortunately there just is not enough in the game to make it a worthwhile purchase as a game in its own right. After the first few areas, missions begin to feel repetitive and moments of humour are too far apart to keep players wanting to go on to see what happens next. This coupled with the fact that most missions seem to have nothing to do with the overall plot and the fact that said plot is so dull that you do not care anyway only pulls the title down further into the realms of the exceedingly average.

For fans of the series there is the odd bit of replay value, new costumes and vehicles can be purchased and there is always the hope that the next gag event that you find will actually amount to more than something simply falling over or blowing up. For the real diehard fan there is an unseen episode of the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon to be bought once all the collectible cards have been found. Apart from these odd bits there is really little else here apart from the samey main missions, even going on a wild spree of knocking down innocent people holds little reward as the cops simply come and fine you before letting you on your way again.

Overall, Hit and Run is both a surprise and a disappointment. It is nice to see a Simpson’s game that finally is worth playing. Unfortunately, it is only worth playing for a few hours because anything after that falls into the realms repetition. The basic gameplay dynamic has been implemented competently but that isn’t really enough.

Overall 5/10

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