All is not well in the town of Springfield. The evil Montgomery C. Burns has purchased the public busing system and is using radioactive waste to run the vehicles and is jacking up the prices. This is causing the citizens of the happy-go-lucky, Sunday-night town many problems. It's up to Homer Simpson, his family and his closest friends to save the day by creating their own taxi service.
SIMPSONS ROAD RAGE brings the world of Springfield to life and gets a ton of its inspiration from Sega's hit, CRAZY TAXI. It goes way beyond CRAZY TAXI in some areas, but falls short in many other key areas.
During the game, you have to drive around the town of Springfield looking for passengers to pick up. These passengers are identified by a set of markers highlighting an area that you must stop inside. Once you have a passenger, you must deliver them to their destination in the fastest time possible. You start with a running clock against you but can add time by getting someone to their destination very quickly, completing a safe trip or a road rage trip, or smashing one of Mr. Burns' bus stops. The controls are simple, and while you can pull donuts, SIMPSONS ROAD RAGE lacks the depth of CRAZY TAXI in the special maneuvers department. CRAZY TAXI had several additional combos that deeply extended gameplay. Unfortunately, ROAD RAGE has none, and the gameplay quickly becomes old because of it.
On the other hand, incredible use was made of license. Everybody got into the studio and recorded voices, and the humor from the series stays true. There are six distinct levels, each representing a different portion of the city. There are also around twenty playable characters, each with their own vehicle. Reverend Lovejoy is in with a Book Burning Mobile, Lisa with an electric car, Homer with the sedan, the car that he designed as well as Mr. Plow, Willie with a Tractor and many more.
The humor is what makes this game worth playing. Each character has witty things to say. Flanders needs to get to Lovejoy's house so that the reverend can bless his new haircut. Milhouse wants a date from Lisa. Wiggum had his cruiser stolen and needs a ride home. It's awesome how much thought and planning went into the game. I kept playing for the sole reason of unlocking new characters to get their reactions to the different situations.
The biggest problem I had was the load-times. In the Mission Mode (where you have to destroy certain things very quickly), you get about 30 seconds of load time for a 45-second mission. This is unacceptable. A major flaw that should have been addressed. Load times for the main game are also long but at least those games last longer.
But the humor is the only redeeming factor. The graphics have been cel-shaded in order to look cartoon-like but turned out really badly. It represents the world of THE SIMPSONS, but not as well as it could have. I doubt the PS2 is using any power to pull off the effects. Everything is really simple and it just feels like a half-ass job was done. The game needed more polishing time, but that Christmas deadline can prove to be too much.
On the sound side, I'm a little happier. The sound effects all work and you've got all the voices recorded, plus music directly from the show. Good stuff and it fits the game.
The lack of gameplay ingenuity, long load times and crappy graphics will turn most off. But SIMPSONS fans will love the game anyway. It might be wise to see if the load times are improved at all in the upcoming GameCube and Xbox versions.
Platform: Playstation 2
ESBR Rating: Everyone
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Fun Factor: A-
Reviewer's Wild Card: B