A funny story with great graphical presentation doesn't stop The Simpson's Game from being 'just another Simpsons game'
The most notable part about The Simpsons Game is the humour. It is expected that anything that carries the Simpsons title should be funny, and this game certainly does not disappoint in that respect. There are several moments throughout the story that you are likely to have a really good laugh at. It is great to see such a light-hearted, funny game in amongst the space and war shooters of today. The funniest parts of The Simpsons Game come in the form of the cutscenes, which are fantastically written and is like watching the cartoon at it's funniest time. Even when just wondering around levels or Springfield, characters will say hilarious things that you will laugh at and appreciate. There are several jokes, gags and just plain comedy that will stick out while playing the game and just like in the show, each character has a different personality. Homer will say funny things which relate back to him being stupid and probably too dependent on beer and food, Bart will say things to fuel his 'rebel child' position and so on. Each character has something to give to the humour.
A great deal of the humour can be derived from the story elements of the game. In the Simpsons Game, you compete in an eating competition, you help stop a museum heist, you shut down a company that plans on cutting down all the tress and you save the earth from an alien invasion, not to mention that you spend time in a game engine and then different kinds of games and of course, you fight bunnies made from chocolate. The story might seem a little crazy, but it actually flows really well. By far the most interesting aspect of the story is how it interacts with the video game industry. Not only is some of the levels based on video games e.g. Medal of Homer, Grand Theft Scratchy, but there are references to video game popular culture. For instance, Will Wright makes an appearance in the game as a 'mini boss' type figure. There was also a reference to Billy Mitchell while running around the Game Engine room. On top of that, sections within some levels change to turn into a classic game type e.g. Space Invaders. If you have knowledge of the gaming industry and classic games, you will definitely spot some references, which will make you appreciate the story just that little bit more. A possible downside to the volume of game references is the advertising for EA. You will spot EA posters and stickers throughout the game that might take away from the experience, but all in all, it isn't too bad.
Another thing that helps The Simpsons Game feel like the show is the graphics. When playing the game, the graphics are very similar to that of the show, but everything is in 3D and HD and looks fantastic. The style is very nice and it actually feels like you are running around Springfield, like in the cartoon. The animation is good too; everything moves nicely and there wasn't a moment where the animation didn't hold up to the actions, although there were a few instances where the frame rate dropped slightly, but it was only on a few occasions. The HD makes the graphics feel even better and if you have a HDTV, it looks better than the actual show.
Not only does the game look pretty great, the game sounds great too. The game features the voice cast of the show and they do a terrific job of integrating the voices into the game and it's story, which is to be expected. Not only are the cast present, the game's soundtrack is strong too and while going through many of the levels, take some time out to listen to the back track, it makes it feel like a more authentic experience. Another little sound touch that is much appreciated is the small sound effects. For instance, there is a level that includes ice and snow, when you walk on the snow, you hear the 'crunchy' noise you would expect to hear when walking on some snow. For different surfaces, you hear different noises. We might expect that of a game in this day but it's still great to hear.
This game is not all pretty graphics and funny story though; it does have its share of problems. The gameplay is not as fun as it first appears. In most levels, you take control of two Simpson's family members and alternate between the two in order to get through the level. Each member of the family has their own unique powers and while some of them are pretty cool at first, it soon wears off. The game starts to get a little repetitive when you realize that you are doing the same thing over and over again. There are small puzzles throughout the levels, and at first they might take a few minutes to figure out but they soon become very easy because you just have to do the same thing as the first puzzle of this kind. You either have to look for something for Bart to grapple onto, or something for Lisa to lift up using her 'Hand of Buddha' power and so on. The game isn't particularly long either and can probably be ran through in 6 hours, although, there are things to do other than the story with collectibles and time challenges, but the story is the most interesting part of the game.
The Simpsons Game gameplay also lacks a certain execution. In one level, you are fighting a giant Lardman that shoots lasers, fine, and because of the repetitive nature of the game, you soon realize how to take him down. The problem arises when you actually begin the fight against him. It's a 'good old' three-stage battle where all three stages are similar. It soon becomes highly frustrating when you are doing the right thing, but you can't get quite close enough to him because you aren't quite high or close enough, and sometimes even when you are high enough, the angle and position is too awkward. The game also suffers from horrible camera angles. There were countless moments in the game where the camera would be situated in a horrible position. You can rotate the camera, but it would stop if it came 'into contact' with a wall or an object, which meant for some tricky sections where you had to jump from one pole to another it was very hard to see where you were going. The bad camera angles really hinder the enjoyment of some of these very well designed levels.
The Simpsons world has sparked a lot of games over the years and while The Simpsons Game is new and different, it boils down to 'just being another Simpsons game'. It's funny, which they usually are, but it lacks the execution to be a great action game. The nice graphics and great sound just aren't enough to rescue the bad gameplay. The gameplay, coupled with horrible camera angles, stops the chances of this game being great. For a hardcore Simpson's fan, it might be worth checking out although renting is probably the best option for anybody that likes the Simpson's because the game simply isn't as fun as it first might appear to be.