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The Simpsons: Hit and Run
game: The Simpsons: Hit and Run
four star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Vivendi Universal Games
date posted: 12:00 AM Wed Nov 26th, 2003
last revision: 12:00 AM Wed Nov 26th, 2003

By Eric Qualls

The Simpsons have been around for a long time.  In fact, the 15th season just started.  After these many years and hundreds of episodes, every single Simpsons fan surely has a favorite one-liner, sign gag, character, episode and season.   That is what makes The Simpsons: Hit & Run so great.  It not only features an original story created just for this videogame, but within the 3-D Springfield created for the game are hundreds of jokes and signs and characters ripped straight out of the series.  You can literally drive around the levels and find a joke every few feet, and your favorite gags are probably in here.  This is the game that every Simpsons fan has dreamed of, and it combines excellent gameplay along with tons of fan service to make this one game no fan should be without.    

The story in Hit & Run was written specifically for this videogame by the actual writers from the show.  At the start of the game, mechanical bees with cameras built into them, black vans, and a strange cola that is controlling peoples' minds have all appeared in Springfield .  It is up to you, playing as Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa, and Apu, to explore the city and figure out who is behind this nefarious plot.  There are a few twists and turns along the way and the story really gets interesting during the last couple of levels. You will also meet up with just about every character from the show and explore locations such as Moe's Tavern, Mr. Burns' Mansion, and pretty much every other landmark from the show.  There is even an original Itchy and Scratchy cartoon that you can unlock.

To get an idea of what the gameplay in Hit & Run is like, think Grand Theft Auto minus the violence.  You have the ability to go anywhere you want and do anything you want.  You can hijack any cars you want on the road and drive around or you can run and jump through town if you prefer.  There aren't any weapons in the game, but you can kick people in the shins if you want to.  The missions in the game are exactly like the missions in the GTA games, just without the sex, drugs, and violence.  You'll have to drive Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel around in his pickup to collect road kill, race Principal Skinner to the school to get Lisa's homework to her, and even destroy a few rival cars with the sturdy blade of Barney's Plow King. 

There are seven levels in the game each broken up into seven story missions.  There is one bonus mission on each level as well as three race missions per level.  Within each level are numerous items that you have to collect as well.  You have to find specific gags, twenty mechanical bees, and seven collector cards that reference different episodes from the show in each of the seven levels.  You also have to unlock all of the special cars and alternate outfits if you want to get 100%.  The alternate outfits you can unlock are things such as Homer in a muumuu, Bart in his Bartman costume, Lisa's Cool? outfit, or Marge in her police uniform. 

The main attraction in Hit & Run is the cars you use to explore Springfield .  You can jack any car in the game, but the cars you'll find roaming the streets are pretty generic and, well, crappy.  By visiting one of the dozens of phone booths around town, however, you can have one of the dozens of special cars that you have unlocked delivered.  You unlock cars buy beating the racing missions, buying them from Gil, the down on his luck salesman/real estate agent/lawyer/etc., or earning them through story missions.  Barney's Plow King, Homer's Mr. Plow, the family sedan, a Canyonero, Mr. Burns' Limo, and the car Homer designed called the Homer? are just some of the cars you can use.  There are a ton of cars ripped straight out of your favorite episodes and it is a thrill to go from level to level just to see what you can open up next.

The seven levels are split up between three environments.  The first location you'll visit covers the Simpsons' neighborhood of Evergreen Terrace, the school, the Kwik-E-Mart, and the Nuclear Power Plant with a ton of stuff in between, of course.  The second area you'll go to is the downtown section of Springfield where you'll be able to visit Moe's Tavern, the DMV, City Hall and the statue of Jebadiah Springfield, and you can even see the defunct Monorail station, the escalator to nowhere, the giant magnifying glass and the rotating restaurant.  The third section of Springfield you will visit covers the waterfront area with Mr. Burns' Casino, the Aztec Theater, the Android's Dungeon comic book shop, and stretches all the way up to the observatory and famed Springfield ? sign up in the hills.  You have to play in the downtown area and waterfront area twice and the Simpsons' neighborhood three times.  Each time you have to return to a level it will be slightly different.  New sections of the level will open up to you and different cars and people will be around than when you were there before.  All three sections of town are huge and have a ton of things to do, and because they change when you make your return visits to them later in the game, the initial feelings of disappointment you'll likely feel when you find out the city isn't as big as Liberty or Vice City will quickly fade.

Simply driving around the city and pointing out references to episodes is a blast.  Some friends and I spent an evening looking for jokes and sign gags that we recognized and there were jokes everywhere.  In the Kwik-E-Mart alone you can see Frostilicus, set off a very loud silent? alarm, and play a quick game of Larry the Looter.  You will also find characters all over the city that you can talk to and many of them have a lot of lines of dialogue.  Finding Moe or Ralph Wiggum around town will have you laughing for quite awhile.  Other jokes such as Homer saying I hope they don't find my scorpion farm? when he is racing Smithers to work are made even more hilarious when you reach the plant and go to Homer's office and actually find a scorpion farm.  I like to think of Hit & Run as the best clip show that has ever existed.  All of the best and brightest citizens of Springfield along with all of the funniest parts of the show are reproduced extremely faithfully here. 

The graphics in Hit & Run are good, but there are a lot of cases of clipping, and the camera has a tendency to go nuts when you least expect it.  The framerate stutters quite a bit when there is a lot going on or your car is getting banged up and there is a lot of smoke and sparks flying.  The characters, cars, and the city itself are exactly what you would expect from a 3-D version of The Simpsons.  The city is very detailed and the characters look and act the part.  Other than a couple of technical issues that are noteworthy but still pretty easy to overlook, the graphics in Hit & Run are great.

The sound in Hit & Run is probably the best part of the presentation.  The theme song is here in all of its glory and the gameplay music is just what you would expect to hear on the show.  Each playable character also has special music that plays every once in a while.  Homer has a version of the Stone Cutters music and when you play as Lisa you will hear saxophone music.  All of the voice actors from the series lent their talents to the videogame and it really adds a lot to why Hit & Run is so funny and enjoyable.  The only bad part about the sound is that some of the one-liners repeat way too often.  You only really notice it while you are driving, but hearing the same four or five lines fifty times on your way from the Simpsons' house to Springfield Elementary is extremely annoying.  Overall, though, the sound is spectacular.  The voices, sound effects, and music we expect each week from the TV show are all here and they are all great, even if some of the jokes get old after a while.

If you are a die-hard fan of The Simpsons, you need this game. The graphics and sounds and storyline are extremely faithful to the series; so what more could you want? There is a lot to do in Hit & Run between completing the main story and finding all of the collectible items and it will probably take about 25+ hours to complete the game 100%.  I have played through it twice now, once on GameCube and once on PS2, and I'm still hooked.  If you aren't a huge fan of the show, a lot of the jokes will probably be lost on you, and you'll just see Hit & Run as the above average GTA clone it really is.  To fans of the show, though, Hit & Run is a must play and will fit nicely on your shelf alongside the Season 1-3 DVD sets you undoubtedly already have.