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reviews >> playstation 2
The Simpsons Road Rage

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Year Released: 2001
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Teen

Visuals 5.5
Not a very pretty game to look at. If the developers were trying to go for a cel-shaded look, they didn't succeed so well at doing it. A lot of the buildings have flat shading, and the architecture is limited in polygons. Then there's the framerate, which is never smooth.
Audio 6
It's great that the actual actors of the TV show provided the voices for the respective characters they portay, but their quips are repetitive. Music and sound effects also don't fare so well.
Gameplay 5
It's like Sega and Hitmaker's Crazy Taxi, just not nearly as fun or techincal.
Replay Value 5.5
The main objective of the game is to raise $1,000,000, but you'll probably get sick of this game before you reach 300 grand. The mission mode is hardly worth talking about.
Reviewer's Impression 5
It was fun the first few times around, but when you start to draw so many comparisons to Crazy Taxi (like how much better it is), that's when the fun starts to fade.
Overall 5
Stick with the original, and not the immitators. Crazy Taxi is much better than this half-ass rip off with a license attached to it.

The Simpsons have been an institution on television, with more than 300 episodes under it's belt and having the novelty of being one of the longest running animated series of all time. Through those years, we've seen games based upon the Simpsons license that have had a less than stellar result. When the games were under Acclaim, they tended to be questionable in design. "Barts Nightmanre" lacked direction and suffered from poor minigames, "Krusty's Fun House" was an adequate puzzle game, sort of like a pre-Chu Chu Rocket, but again was met with confusing gameplay. Two to three years ago, we finally saw a Simpsons game arrive on the then next-gen console, the PlayStation in the form of "Simpsons Wrestling". Needless to say, it was hardly critic-proof. In 2001, we see Road Rage, which basically rips off the design of Crazy Taxi, but somehow messed up on that.

So why are the residents of Springfield driving each other around in this game? Well, Mr. Burns has bought all of the city's public transportation, and decided to jack up the price. Well, this won't do. To quote Homer, "Public transportation is for jerks and lesbians.". To solve the problem of the Burns controlled bussing, the Simpson family (except Maggie), as well as stupid sexy Flanders, Moe, Revrend Lovejoy and a handful of the regular Simpsons characters will raise cash by driving people around town, and try to buy the busses back. And all this is done ala Crazy Taxi.

Except, despite the fact that Radical Games adopted (ripped off) the Crazy Taxi design, the end result is less fun than Sega's arcade series. Sure, you pick up passengers and drive them to their destinationl, and depending where they want to go, you will recieve more or less time to get them there. But the desing no way allows you to make money by near misses, jumping or sliding, as well as earning a bonus for a timely delivery. Instead, your cash value slowly increases while you're driving your customer to their destination. Depending on the circumstance, you can earn some extra cash and time by meeting the criteria of a safe drive or an aggressive drive. Of course, you'll never know when this happens. I think the overall point here is, that Radical's design of Sega's game is not nearly as fun or addictive as it should be. I played as much of the game as I could tolerate (which was quite a bit), but I never had as much fun as I did in Crazy Taxi.

The visuals are very spotty. I guess you can give some respect to Radical for creating a fairly believable world in the Simpsons realm, and they do give us six fairly diverse settings. But the polygon count is fairly low and the textures are pretty flat. I can understand that they wanted a cel-shaded look, but if that is what they were intending, then it was a failed effort. Sega's Jet Grind Radio used the technique so much better, and that game came out over a year before this one. Some textures are so poor that they seem more like simple gradients than a texture. The polygons in some structures are painfully simple, such as the houses, where it's basically a cube and a pyramid. The framerate is aslo hit and miss as well, and never really remains smooth for an extended preiod of time. In a way, the graphics get the job done, but on the other hand, so many other games look so much better.

The sound is entertaining for awhile with real voices from the cast. When you first hear the banter between the charecters, it's funny. But then it gets repetitive after 15 minutes. Also, some of the events just don't match. The person can get on board and say one thing, then the driver will say something that will seem irrelivant (like Homer saying "Damn Straight!" when it really doesn't match the prior phrase). The music is average.

Final Thought

You know what, if you're going to rip-off an established game, you might as well do it all the way. Road Rage copies the design of Crazy Taxi, but only by about 65%. There's no strategy in scoring, no way in keeping the session going longer and really this is what makes the game kind of boring. When I bought Crazy Taxi years ago, I was hooked. Although there was only I city, I spent so much time perfecting the strategy and improving my score and seeing just how long I could last. I wanted to do that here, but Radical gave only so much that the replay value diminishes quickly. A rental is suitable just to get all the humor it offers, after that, you're done.