I read alot of reviews before picking up the Simpsons game. Almost all agreed that while the gameplay was mediocre, it had the Simpsons brand of hilarity. So I decided to give it a go.
We join the Simpsons family, who discover magical powers through an instruction manual for The Simpsons Game. They set out to unravel the mystery, making plenty of video game references and jokes along the way. There is a very epic feel to the journey, as levels go from enchanted Everquests forests to COD battlefields, to a bouncy colorful Nippon and even Heaven itself. The locales grower stranger and grander, and there is always a sense of excitement and adventure that I've rarely felt with a video game. Add in an incredible
soundtrack to go along with it, and this is a game that should be a blast to playthrough.
I say should, because two other aspects set out to undermine these strengths.
Firstly, gameplay. You start from the hub world of Springfield, which despite being populated with all your favorites, is pretty desolate and boring. Each main section, despite the changing scenery, amounts to bland brawling, cookie-cutter platforming and puzzle-solving, though every so often there will in-game reference to a classic (IE one boss battle plays like a level of Joust) to keep things fresh. The camera, unsuprisingly, is of little help, and is the cause of many deaths.
Secondly, humor. While the entire game does lampshade video game tropes, from old cliches to half-assed licensing, the humor, in typical modern Simpsons fashion, is content to simply parrot these observations than do anything of actual wit with them. Cliches are pointed out, but are never fixed or even played with; they're just there for you to endure. And what isn't a video games joke is either recycled from early seasons (repackaged and tossed in randomly without the set-up or timing that made it funny to begin with) or just plain lazy ("all french peopel ar cow-wards who luv zer whine n cheez" ).
When people call this game funny, keep in mind they mean 2007 Simpsons funny. If you aren't a fan of Simpsons during this year, then the humor will fall flat on its face every time. Combine that with bland gameplay that bogs the rest of the experience down, and only the grand scope of the journey can make it worth a bargain buy.
And is that what you want in a Simpsons game?