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     " The load times suck, I suggest 'Hungry, Hungry Hippos' to pass the time. "

      Title: Simpson's Road Rage from Electronic Arts

      Format: PS2 Driving game

      Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A

      The Hype: We all love the Simpson's. Seriously, who doesn't? Some of you fans may even have noticed that my moniker is a Simpson's reference. Fox, being the smarties they are, took note of that and have begun to bring us games. For their PS2 debut, we have a Simpson's driving game. Much like a certain "Taxi" game, this game features the Simpson's ferrying people about for fun, profit, and destruction. So, let's hit the gas on the review already…

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: The characters make a good transition to 3D and are all easily recognizable. Despite the 3D realm, all the graphics maintain a cartoonish feel. Everything is lush, bright, and colorful (almost makes one want to create rage art). There is the occasional clipping error; you'll easily miss them unless looking for them. There's no collision detection, and no change to your car (as is typical of this type of game) no matter how badly you pound it. 4 out of 5

      Sound: Well since it was developed by Fox, and they pretty much own the voice actors' souls, they all do work for this game. Everybody is voiced appropriately. The characters' voices can get a little repetitive at times. Sometimes the passenger will say something and the driver will say something completely opposite of what was just said, that can be a little stupid. The driving sounds are all fairly relatively dull. The cars you drive make different sounds. Crashes generally sound the same, and are also pretty dull. With the exception of the remix of the opening theme, played during menus, the music is utterly forgettable. It fits well, and doesn't distract, but it adds nothing. 3 out of 5

      Game Play: If you never played Crazy Taxi, the basic point is to pick people up and get them to their destination within a certain time limit. Doing so earns you money. The more money the better obviously. If you have played that game though, you'll find this game to be a pretty basic copy. They've tried to enhance it some. The money goes towards buying bonuses, and they've given us a mission mode in addition to a "Sunday Drive". Sunday Drive lets you drive around a level without a time penalty. Letting you explore a level fully, thus learning all of the shortcuts. Shortcuts are the key to this game. If you know which shortcut to take on a trip, you can cut your delivery time considerably. Now let us never speak of the shortcut again. While driving people around, you can also get one of two bonus missions. Either destroy stuff or avoid traffic. Successfully completing the mission will get you extra money and time. The mission mode they provide covers ten levels, but quickly becomes dull when you realize that there are only two mission types. One makes you take a customer to a destination; the other has you hit a certain number of obstacles on the road. Even worse is that only two of the ten missions are of the first type. Making all of the rest of the missions seem rather repetitive. Driving around is still a lot of fun, but it's not really anything we haven't seen before. 3.5 out of 5

      Level and Environment Designs: The levels are fairly well designed. The range from middle-sized to absolutely huge. Some levels will get you lost or run into dead-ends. Each level is filled with its own shortcuts and secrets to learn. Not to mention references to the television show around every corner (much the same as this review…). The environments are colorful and well drawn. About 60% of the environment is destructible in one fashion or another. Unfortunately, it's not handled particularly well. Because there's no damage modeling, things; including hapless pedestrians who get in your way, simply fly away from your car. You can't peel out, but you can make track marks on grass. Simple things like that annoy me. 3 out of 5

      Multiplayer: Teamwork is overrated. That's why the way multiplayer for Road Rage is handled quite nicely. Two players race to get the passenger in the level, and then try to get him to his destination without the other guy stealing him. The competition is pretty fierce, with the edge going to the one who knows the map better. The games are played on regular game maps with no changes in the territory. That means you don't want to play with your friend the zombie who plays the game 23 hours a day (You've gotta leave some time for brain eating). It's definitely an interesting way of doing it. 3.5 out of 5

      Replayability: Some of the missions are incredibly hard. Even so, they eventually come down to memorizing a path to take to collect the amount of items you need. The delivery missions are easy in comparison. This means that by the time you've completed them, you'll feel like you've replayed them hundreds of times. You'd think it's their job to be repetitive. The game's got a bunch of unlockables. You start off with only a few cars and one level to drive on. Driving around earning fairs gets you money to buy more levels and more cars. The 17 cars feature cast members from Homer to Professor Frink as drivers. Getting more cars will keep you going on the levels until you have grown well and truly sick of the game. 3.5 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: Mr. Burns has taken over the transit system, now the buses are all irradiated. Thinking quickly, the Simpsons start their own taxi service. They're trying to raise enough money to buy back the buses from Burns. That right there is the story. It serves its purpose, which is to explain why all the people of Springfield are driving people around. Other than the opening cut scene, the story is completely transparent. I suppose you don't really need a story for this kind of thing, and that's most likely why there's none here. Then again, video games don't have to make sense; they're just a bunch of stuff that happens. 1 out of 5

      Instructions and Learning Curve: If you ever played Crazy Taxi you will know how to play this game. The instructions tell you how to drive your car, and give a few good tips on how to get around; otherwise they are fairly useless. This is a pretty self-explanatory game. Following the guide arrow will get you around to start off with, once you've learned the levels you'll have no problem gliding around without the arrow. Simple to learn, fairly easy to master. They could make it harder, but then the stupider people would be complaining, furrowing their brows in a vain effort to understand… 4 out of 5

      Installation and Real System Requirements: This is a fairly good use of the PS2's capabilities, although I did get a little slowdown at times. My biggest beef with this game is the incredibly long load times. Nothing drags a game down faster, in my opinion. This is especially hard in the mission mode, where you'll find yourself having to restart the mission every 30 seconds. 30 seconds of play, followed by waiting for 40 seconds of loading is frustrating as all hell. The waiting game sucks, I suggest "Hungry, Hungry Hippos" to fill the time. 2 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       If you love The Simpsons, and you also love Crazy Taxi but don't happen to own it, get this game. The voices you love, and the relatively fun gameplay make it worthwhile. For today's completely obvious statement: The Simpson family is the biggest strength this game has. Horrible load times, and some bad design choices hamper the game, and keep it from completely ruling. It still makes a fun addition to your collection of Simpson's gear.

      The Good: Simpson's paraphernalia galore. Fun driving game.

      The Bad: Bad load times, repetitive mission mode

      The Overall Ugly: If you have Crazy Taxi (1 or 2) and don't like the Simpsons, don't bother. Otherwise, it's worthwhile.

      What it's Worth: A good $35

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