Many episodes of The Simpsons have focused on automobile mayhem of some sort, whether it's the introduction of the Canyonero or Homer's infamous "La Cucaracha" car, so it's only natural to expect that someone would develop a driving game based on The Simpsons. Unfortunately, while The Simpsons is often entertaining and enjoyable, The Simpsons Road Rage for the Xbox is not.
The game can best be described as Crazy Taxi in Springfield. Montgomery Burns has replaced the city's transit system with a series of radioactive busses that are causing havoc throughout Springfield. Naturally, the Simpson family springs to the rescue and decides to raise the necessary $1 million to buy back Springfield's transit system from Burns. Initially, you assume the role of Bart, Lisa, Homer, Marge, and Grandpa as you ferry fares to and from various famous locales such as the Quick-E-Mart, Android's Dungeon, and Moe's Tavern within a certain amount of time. Eventually, though, you'll be able to unlock nearly all of the famous cast of characters in the animated series, including Professor Frink, Groundskeeper Willy, Otto, Clancy Wiggum, and Snake, each of whom has a unique car with somewhat unique handling characteristics. As in Crazy Taxi, the faster you get your fares to their destinations, the more money you earn. When the time runs out, the money you've earned is tallied into your grand total, and every time you reach a certain milestone (usually measured in $25,000 increments), you're allowed to unlock a new drivable character or one of five new locations. In a twist on Crazy Taxi's gameplay, The Simpsons Road Rage has two additional ways of earning money--some fares will give you bonuses for either driving safely or going on a rampage, and in these instances, you'll earn more money at the end of your trip if you avoid any traffic or smash into as many obstacles as possible, respectively.
However, while the two games share the same premise, The Simpsons Road Rage controls nothing like the game it tries to emulate. Road Rage suffers from a number of problems, not the least of which is bad collision detection. You'll often find yourself clipping a corner of a building or slamming into another car, even though you have room to spare. Likewise, the car physics are somewhat suspect--they simply don't feel as "solid" as those in Crazy Taxi. Instead, they feel extremely slippery and are overly sensitive to any kind of control input. The loading times before and after each game are also a little long, and you'll often find yourself mashing buttons in frustration during the numerous results screens that you're not allowed to skip after each session.
The game is also hampered by sound effects that become immediately repetitive. Apparently, many of the cast members recorded new lines specifically for the game, but in practice, none of the dialogue between characters seems to happen in context. There are times when Nelson, for example, will jump into Chief Wiggum's car and ask to be taken to the Quick-E-Mart to do some shoplifting, to which Wiggum will reply with "Sometimes I keep a sandwich in my holster," a line that's funny in its own right but makes absolutely no sense within the context of that conversation. This might seem like nothing more than a nuisance, but it'll become irritating after hearing the same disjointed phrases repeated over and over within a span of 60 seconds. Road Rage is filled with similar dialogue that is initially amusing but starts to wear thin in little time. The graphics are fair, and while Road Rage doesn't have any problems with slowdown or draw-in, the overall visual effect seems to be somewhat confusing. It's as if the game were using a mixture of cel shading and standard textures to skin many of the cars and peripheral objects. If it is indeed cel shading, then it's a bad job at that, since only the cars appear that way. And if it's not cel shading, then the textures on the game's other objects are a little washed out.
If you can see past these problems, then The Simpsons Road Rage might present you with a little bit of replay value. You can compete head-to-head against one other player in a split-screen mode, and you can drive as any character on any location that you've unlocked in a mode without a clock. There are even 10 missions in which you're given various tasks to complete within a short amount of time, such as driving Krusty away from a mob of fans and getting Homer to work without Mr. Burns noticing. And of course, there's something to be said about simply driving around a 3D re-creation of Springfield and all of its memorable landmarks. In the end, though, The Simpsons Road Rage's control problems prevent this from being recommendable to all but the most die-hard fans of The Simpsons. Ultimately, the only saving grace Road Rage has is that it's a Simpsons game.