reviews\ Dec 25, 2001 at 7:00 pm

The Simpsons Road Rage - XB - Review

The Simpsons Road Rage is like the unpopular kid in school who tries so hard to be like the captain of the football team. He works two jobs to buy clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch; he makes fun of his geeky friends in public, hoping that the jocks will notice and think he's cool; and worst of all, he actually believes that he is cool, like that annoying guy on Ed. But no matter what he does, the jocks still pick on him and the cheerleaders still act like he doesn't exist. The Simpsons Road Rage isn't that bad, but like the unpopular kid in school, it tries so hard to be something that it's not. In this case, it's trying to be Crazy Taxi.

There are a few modes in The Simpsons Road Rage, but the one you'll spend the most time with is Road Rage. Or should I say, "Crazy Taxi." Choose a driver and select one of the worlds available and you're ready to roll. You have a time limit of 75 seconds. Drive around until you see a customer (indicated by the half-circle surrounding the person). Stop within the circle to pick up the passenger and hit the gas as soon as they hop in the backseat. Go in the direction that the hand is pointing you in and look for your destination (you'll know it when you see it). After dropping off the passenger, you will gain a few extra seconds to add to your clock. You'll gain one second if you get your passenger to their destination in a normal amount of time and three seconds if you get there very quickly. But you won't gain any extra time if you're too late. Does any of this sound familiar? If not, then you must have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, because that is almost exactly what Crazy Taxi is like! Back in '99, this game would have been a dream come true for me. I was obsessed with Crazy Taxi and would've jumped at the chance to play any console game like it. But it's practically 2002 now and my tastes have severely changed. Actually, they haven't changed, they evolved. My favorite driving game is Grand Theft Auto 3, a game that has ten time as much depth as Crazy Taxi. The Simpsons Road Rage isn't as deep as CT, so it feels very shallow in this generation of advanced video games.

The other modes are Sunday Drive and Mission Mode. Sunday Drive allows you to drive freely without having to worry about actually playing the game. There's no time limit and no reason to pick up customers. It's a good mode for exploring the levels and memorizing their layout, but it gets boring after a while. Mission Mode is the most unique part of the game. In this mode, you wreak havoc on the world instead of working as a cabbie. Some missions require you to knock over mascots, while others require you to get Homer to work before the evil Mr. Burns rams his vehicle into yours. (Homer snuck out of work to watch a baseball game, and if the boss catches him in the act, he's dead!)

TSRR's controls are pretty smooth, though not as responsive as CT. Developing a game is hard, I know, but I don't understand why copycats like this never play even half as good as the original. Everything appears to be in place, but for some reason it just doesn't come together. You're doing the same exact things as you did in Crazy Taxi, yet it feels different -- bad different. That doesn't make it a bad game, but rather a game that isn't as fun to play as one that "inspired" it. That's usually the way things go in this industry. One company develops a great game and then everyone else tries to cash in on its success by making a few hundred clones. Every game company has done this at one time or another, and no matter what it almost always fails. Fox Interactive threw in a few extras, making The Simpsons Road Rage a little more unique, but overall it feels like The Little Engine that Couldn't -- it thinks can recapture the fun of Crazy Taxi, but it can't.

The load times aren't horribly long, but they're frequent enough to annoy you. Crazy Taxi loaded very quickly and restarting only took a couple of seconds (if that!). But The Simpsons Road Rage loads each and every time the game changes. It loads every time you enter or exit a new mission; every time you restart; every time you save; etc. That adds up to more loading than any Xbox owner should be forced to suffer through. I thought the days of the Sega CD were over, but I guess I was wrong.

The Simpsons Road Rage's graphics are...well...let's put it this way: I've seen more impressive visuals on the Dreamcast! I understand that this is just a port of a PlayStation 2 game, but most games ported to the Xbox have enhanced visuals that really add to the experience. However, TSRR looked bad on the PS2, so you can imagine how bad it must look on the Xbox. Every object in the game is extremely blocky. All of the cars (except for the one you're driving), trees, buildings and telephone booths look like they came out of a Nintendo 64 game! The backgrounds in Crazy Taxi were blocky, but seem like next-generation graphics when compared with TSRR. Most Xbox games are detailed and look very realistic. Some parts of TSRR have more fog than any game I've played in the last 18 months! Does Fox Interactive not realize that this is a next-generation console they're working with? Every console they're working with is next-gen! Cel Damage is a bit on the cartoony side, but the animation is superb, giving the game Warner Brothers-style aesthetics. It's a shame that Electronics Arts didn't develop TSRR themselves and ensure that it looked and played as good as the rest of their games.

#Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 6.4
Even with all of its faults, The Simpsons Road Rage is an above average game. While not nearly as fun as Crazy Taxi, I did have some fun screwing around with this game. The two-player mode is by far the best part.

Graphics: 4 
The characters look nice, but other than that, The Simpsons Road Rage isn't pretty.

Sound: 6
Bart isn't as funny in The Simpsons Road Rage as he is on the show. Personally I feel that they should have included the music from the Simpsons TV show soundtrack. That would've been much more enjoyable.

Difficulty: 7
Getting to your destination on time can be tough with all of the traffic in the way, and ramming into them slows you down. Longer time limits could've alleviated this problem.

Concept: 5.5 
The highest form of flattery is NOT plagiarism! I can't blame them for trying because I love Crazy Taxi so much that I would have probably made a game just like it if I were a developer. But if it didn't play at least half as good as CT, I would've been disappointed in myself and hopefully realized that I should have developed my own unique game, instead of trying to do what someone else had already done.

Multiplayer: 7
Finally, there's a two-player game like Crazy Taxi! It's not as good as Crazy Taxi, but if you ever wanted a taxi driving game that you could play with a friend, here it is.

Overall: 6
This is a game for those who are still obsessed with Crazy Taxi and have longed for a two-player version of the game ever since its release. Everyone should rent it first, though I'm sure a few non-CT obsessors will enjoy it.

Above Average

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