Summary: [Whistle sounds; Homer slides down the power plant into his car, drives away, and sings to the tune of "The Flintstones"]
Homer: Simpson, Homer Simpson. He's the greatest guy in history! From the town of Springfield, he's about to hit a chestnut tree. AAH!
The Simpsons have been running on TV since 1989, with games based on the show running nearly as long. Things were kicked off with the surprisingly fun arcade game from Konami in 1991. Since then, there have been a number of console games based on The Simpsons, most of them starring Bart.
Then, in late 2001, the entire family made the jump to next-generation consoles in The Simpsons Road Rage. That game took the proven pick-up-and-play concept from Sega’s Crazy Taxi and implanted Simpsons characters and personality into it.
Earlier this year, Vivendi Universal announced that Radical Entertainment is working on the next Simpsons game titled Hit & Run. Described as a “hilarious mission-based driving game featuring all-new out-of-the-car gameplay.” Sound familiar?
Vivendi was also proud to boast that “Hit & Run combines a brand new story written by award-winning The Simpsons writers and voiceovers by the original show cast for full brand authenticity.”
The game isn’t expected to ship until September, but we were fortunate enough to play through some pre-release code for preview purposes.
First of all, Hit & Run doesn’t stray from the underlying concept found in Road Rage – take proven gameplay and insert Simpsons DNA. Hit & Run is unmistakably recognizable as being heavily influenced by Grand Theft Auto.
Vivendi Universal Games
Xbox, GC, PS2
The missions start right away with Marge informing you that Lisa left her science project at home and that you have to beat Principal Skinner to the school to deliver it to her. After a loading screen that explicitly tells you what your mission is, you hop into your “family sedan” (which is more like a four-seater convertible) and rush off to the school. You don’t have a floating arrow at the top of your screen, but there are flashing pointers pasted on the road for you to follow. After getting to the school before Skinner, you walk Homer inside to deliver the goods. Mission complete and Homer gleefully announces “I am so smart, I am so smart. S-M-R-T, I mean, S-M-A-R-T.” Lisa then instructs Homer to return home where Marge will send you on your next mission to find Flanders’ ‘stolen’ stuff (things Homer borrowed without asking).
So what’s the Hit & Run title all about? In Grand Theft Auto, you ‘earn’ stars for your wanted level. The more wanted you are, the more people are after you. In Hit & Run, you have a little meter at the bottom right hand corner of the screen. For every criminal thing you do, such as running over phone booths, hitting pedestrians, and beating civilians, the meter increases. When the meter is full, it’s “Hit & Run” time and Chief Wiggum’s
SIDEBAR: I saw this in a movie about a bus that had to SPEED around a city, keeping its SPEED over fifty, and if its SPEED dropped, it would explode. I think it was called, "The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down."
While you won’t be hearing sound bites from whack DJ’s or listening to glam-rock from the 80s, the sound candy in this game comes from the voices of the characters. Each major Simpsons character spouts hilarious lines found in the show plus completely new ones recorded just for the game.
To keep things fresh, the Hit & Run is split up into seven distinct sections, each one changing characters. Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa, and Apu will all get time behind the wheel, with Homer and Bart playing two sections making a total of seven.
The developers and writers behind Hit & Run are striving to make this a truly entertaining game for Simpsons fans. And from what we’ve seen and played so far, it looks extremely promising. The Simpsons Hit & Run is set to ship sometime next month on PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube.
SIDEBAR: The kneebone's connected to the... something. The something's connected to the... red thing. The red thing's connected to my wrist watch. ...Uh oh.
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