New impressionsThe Simpsons Road Rage

EA shows us an updated burn of its Crazy Taxi clone for the Xbox. Get the full details in our report.

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At a recent press event, Electronic Arts showed off its Crazy Taxi clone set in the Simpsons universe, The Simpsons Road Rage. The version shown was the same game on display at E3 last month, but we were able to sit down with the developers and find out some further details about the game.

As the story goes, Mr. Burns has taken over Springfield's public transit network and installed nuclear-powered engines in all the buses. As a result, the people of Springfield are in dire need of transportation. Always out to make a quick buck, the television show's cast quickly jumps in to lend a hand. There are more than 50 characters from the show included in the game--22 of which are controllable. The vehicles chosen for each driver have been selected based upon their actual appearance in the show. Willy has his notorious red tractor, Homer drives the family car, and Barney (the town drunk) thankfully doesn't drive at all.

Playing Road Rage is nearly identical to playing Crazy Taxi. Springfield citizens in need of a ride are highlighted by streetlights. Pulling into the cone of light will cause them to jump in the car and supply you with their destination. You are awarded points based upon how quickly you make the delivery. There is a wealth of jokes included in the game, and each character will say different things based upon who is driving the cab. Smithers follows your every move in a menacing black limo, so it's often essential to drive through entire buildings or head off-road to find shortcuts in order to elude him. While there will be no online mode, there will be a two-player head-to-head mode where you are given objectives like being the first to bust apart objects located in the game's 12 areas. While Road Rage will not take advantage of the Xbox's broadband adapter, the hard drive will be used to make the transition from one area of Springfield to the next virtually seamless.

Springfield has been designed based upon actual episodes of The Simpsons, and the developers stated that they had to watch several hundred episodes just to map out the terrain. The show's creator, Matt Groening, has final veto power on the project, so any changes that are made to any aspect of the game must first be approved by him. Care has been taken to assure that every last billboard and road sign adheres to the Simpsons aesthetic. The cel-shaded graphics do an excellent job of bringing the cartoon world to life, and dramatic camera angles are used to show customers entering and exiting the cars. There are more than 100 authentic Simpsons locations included, and they mimic their television-show counterparts with precision.

While The Simpsons Road Rage undoubtedly owes a great deal to Sega's Crazy Taxi, the use of the popular cartoon license could bring new fans to the genre. Currently scheduled to release alongside the launch of the Xbox in early November, Road Rage looks like it's on target to be completed by then. We'll have more on the first Simpsons game for the Xbox when it becomes available.

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