The Simpsons Game is not the game of the movie, it's the game of the show. Or a game of a game. Or just a game based on the loveable cartoon family. Anyway EA passed by recently with the latest code and we were only too glad to spend an afternoon behind the control pad of both the PS3 and 360 versions.
The premise is simple; you get to play as Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa, who all have their own unique abilities, in what's essentially a straight forward platform game. It's good to hear a full cast of voice actors from the TV show has been brought on board though, it adds to its charm.
Visually it's very yellow and it looks great. It captures the comedy of the show as well as you'd expect. Each level contains a tip of the hat to other forms of media but from what we can gather, the game's here to take the piss out of games in general. We loved the cut scene that parodied US retailer GameStop as 'SequelStop'. A bit brave coming from an EA game.
Most levels feature two different characters and this is where the co-op mode comes into play. There'll be a variety of obstacles that need to be approached by both characters. In one level, for example, there's a huge dinosaur skeleton that heavy Homer has to climb and stand near the head.
This tips the bones up high enough for Bart to walk towards the tail so he can jump and reach the ledge. Simple but effective. A second player can pick up the pad and join in at any time too, which should go down well with the kids. Or be the cause of hundreds of "it's my turn" arguments.
In between the bits where you have to use a tiny fraction of your grey matter, it's pretty much standard platforming with a few punches thrown in to spice things up. You control the camera with the right stick, move with the left stick and use the buttons to jump (double jump), punch and activate things.
Gameplay is simple and linear but that's what it needs to be. It's easy enough for youngsters to play but a lot of the humour will go straight over their heads and slap you in the face, making you 'LOL'. Levels are preceded by cut scenes and every one we've watched so far has been good enough to have been in the actual show.
You even get an 'Achievement for 5' for pressing the start button. We don't know if that's taking the piss out of EA's reputation for literally giving away points in most of its sports games, but we'd like to think so. Shame PS3 owners won't get the joke. But there wasn't much difference between the two in our opinion. They looked great on both platforms. There was an option for downloadable content on the PS3 game too.
A great little touch are the Clichés introduced by Comic Book Guy. During the tiny tutorial stage you're told to hit the jump button twice to perform a double jump. When you do you get an award for finding a good old fashioned video gaming cliché. The game's full of 'em but by poking fun at things like exploding barrels and bounce pads, it somehow gets away with being average in the gameplay department.
Whether or not the final game raises its game above anything other than an average platformer remains to be seen. But we're not going to hold out breath.
If you played the Family Guy game you'll have a good idea how this might turn out. Excellent production values coupled with good use of the licence, but the overall package could be let down by repetitive gameplay.
Still it'll make you laugh and laughing is good for you our doctors tell us. Look out for the review soon.