E3 2001 Hands-onThe Simpsons Road Rage
We check out the Xbox's first Simpsons game, the Crazy Taxi-styled Road Rage.
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Fox Interactive and Electronic Arts are jointly bringing us a new Simpsons racing game for PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The two games are basically identical in terms of features, but the Xbox title is receiving a few graphical tweaks, so that's the one we tried. In short, if you've played Crazy Taxi, you've played Road Rage. The story goes that Mr. Burns has taken over the Springfield public transit system and turned all the buses into nuclear reactors. A bus ticket now costs the poor citizens $100, so of course nobody is riding the bus anymore. That's where you come in. After choosing a character from a pool that, after unlocking all the game's secrets, will total more than 30, you set out driving around Springfield and picking up people like Hans Moleman and Ned Flanders, taking them to the places you want to go. You're rewarded with cash, depending on how fast you deliver your fares to their destinations.
Road Rage has three modes: the basic gameplay mode, a two-player mode, and a sort of sightseeing mode. The first is the core gameplay as described above. Like in Crazy Taxi, the game is timed based on your performance, so you must make as much money as you can before the time runs out. The sightseeing mode is not timed, however, and you'll be picking nobody up, so you can drive around Springfield as much as you want. The developer tells us that you must use this mode extensively to see all the little details of Springfield that are being included.
In graphical terms, the Xbox version of Road Rage is already running very smoothly, even though the Xbox hardware being used here at E3 isn't final. The cars are cel-shaded, and the buildings have a similar cartoon-like look, so the game actually looks quite a bit like the television show. In the Xbox version, the entire world of Springfield will be copied to the system's hard drive, so it can be streamed seamlessly as you drive around. By contrast, the PlayStation 2 will have intermittent loading as you hit the boundaries between segments of the town. It sounds like the Xbox version of Road Rage will be the one to look for when the game ships this fall.