As a big Simpsons fan, I would recommend this to anybody even remotely interested in the series.

User Rating: 8.4 | The Simpsons: Hit & Run PS2
There's the free-roaming gameplay, the numerous missions available and the ability to carjack anybody's vehicle. People who haven't been living under a rock for the past five years would probably think I'm going on about those oh-so-violent-and-controversial games known as Grand Theft Auto. Well in this case, I'm not. But references between that series and this game are abundant from the get-go. This game is The Simpsons: Hit & Run.

"Eat asphalt, asphalt eaters!”
So many games these days are heavily influenced (if not a complete rip-off) of the GTA series. And in this case, it's not so bad. The freedom to roam Springfield to your heart's content is a dream that so many fanboys have been wishing for to come true over the years. Take a trip to the local Kwik-E-Mart or maybe a drive to Moe's Tavern, either is possible. Perhaps even a visit to Springfield Elementary or home to 742 Evergreen Terrace. This kind of freedom is a great way to immerse you in the game along with all of its clever in-jokes and references to certain episodes of the show. Hit & Run definitely excels at recreating the Simpsons universe with so much noticeable detail in each of its seven huge levels.

"I am a lean, mean, vindaloo machine!"
Missions in the game are very enjoyable, albeit slightly repetitive after a while. They range from simple collect-the-items (on foot or in a car) to more challenging races and destroying enemy vehicles. Money is needed often to purchase cars for particular events and can be gained by smashing things (power poles, trees, fire hydrants, etc.) and in doing so, raises your wanted meter. Once this is full (Hit & Run), you are chased by the cops until you escape or get busted which, ironically, costs you 50 coins you might've just earned. Money can also be used to buy costumes for each of the game's five playable characters - a little useless but nonetheless amusing. There are a number of other goodies to find in the game as well such as collector cards, gags and wasp cameras. All of these and the bonus side missions add to a good amount of things to do and all need to be collected and completed to gain 100% in that level, and eventually the game.

"Strike two - running over an elderly person without a license"
The game features many vehicles, available through purchase or simply by carjacking somebody else's (and to a lesser extent, a parked one). Fans will recognise a lot of these vehicles from the series such as the family Sedan through to the car Homer made which bankrupt his brother. Each one has there own strengths and weaknesses including things like acceleration and handling. Most of the vehicles are fun to drive, whether they are super fast or super strong. The race missions participated in quite often need a certain type of car to be able to gain an advantage over the other competitors, so it may take some time to either earn enough money to buy one or to find it.

"Can you come and pick me up? I'll pay you in back rubs."
Graphics in the Simpsons: Hit & Run are fairly good considering the detail and care that has gone into each world. Every now and then though you may notice certain flaws such as clipping and other glitches but these do not detract from the overall experience in any way. All of the character models are pretty basic; the designers obviously just took a 2D picture of the character and added another dimension. Still, they look good and remain faithful to the style of the show. One annoyance is the fact that they talk as if they're chewing gum - up and down, up and down... nevertheless, it isn't a major problem. The world looks fine as well with a lot of care taken to keep things authentic and interesting.

"I am evil Homer! I am evil Homer!"
Sound in the game is very well done. Everything sounds as though it should and the voice acting from the show's actual stars is a real highlight with so much enthusiasm put into each line. The familiar Danny Elfman theme can be heard chirping in every now and then and in its entirety at the games load-up and main menu. As well as that, the sound effects for the vehicles are excellent with each one having its own individual horn. One minor complaint is the lack of any real music while walking around Springfield until you enter and drive a car. Up to that point, the city's mostly silent, apart from random pedestrians and driver-bys. In the end, the good outweighs the bad in this category.

The GTA similarities are inevitable and almost endless but this game stands out on its own merits. The creativity, humor and clever references to the show make this a top priority for all Simpsons fans and would even entertain those who are only remotely interested in the series. Nobody should miss out on having a go at this game even if you just rent it. For all those fanboys out there, The Simpsons: Hit & Run is what you have patiently waited for and definitely deserves a place on your shelf.
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