The Simpsons Game Co-op Hands On Impressions

simpsons_game_gc07.jpgThe Simpsons Game We sat down with EA's The Simpsons Game at Games Convention, rumps firmly stuffed into the Fatboy beanbags at Microsoft's Xbox 360 beach booth for a bit of split-screen multiplayer with Bart and Lisa. Our co-op adventure took us through a Lisa appropriate themed area, a redwood forest being slashed by a menacing lumber company, complete with foresters armed with back-mounted wood chipper guns.

I, as Bart (and Bartman), and Crecente, as Lisa, helped each other overcome obstacles and take down a mechanised lumber processing monster by using our special powers. Bart, armed with an electrified slingshot, took out most of the overall-clad bad guys (which happen to infinitely spawn from a port-a-potty, by the way). Lisa was given puzzle solving duties, using her Buddha palm powers to lift great tree trunks, arrange buzzsaws wedged in trees, and work out pipe puzzles with her all powerful mystical grip. Crecente looked like he was having an easy go of it, while I spent my time platforming, picking up bonus Krusty Koupons and wiping out angry workers.The platforming aspects is where I felt The Simpsons Game fell a little short. Trying to jump tree to tree with Bartman was not as simple as it should have been. Controller response wasn't nearly tight enough for my needs, resulting in many missed landings and ultimately frustration. Crecente didn't bitch about it as much as I did, a fact he continually chalked up to just being so damn good.

The Simpsons Game's wonky camera wasn't helping matters, though. At one point, I simply had to jump from a ledge and restart my upward progress from scratch because I was unable to see the next platform. This may have been more evidently problematic because of the split-screen nature of our co-op play.

Where the game absolutely delivers is in its excellent use of the licence and well executed implementation of Simpsons humour. The game is packed with jokes of the highest Simpsons calibre quality, combining the cartoon's best characters used perfectly with the best gaming cliches.

In fact, when the Comic Book Guy popped up in the middle of the action to inform us that we'd unlocked another video game cliche, I couldn't help but giggle. When Lisa was forced to play a game of Frogger by jumping her way across a river filled with logs and three-eyed alligators, I nearly lost it.

Graphically, the game is near perfect. The development team at EA has captured the cel-shaded look of the show to great effect, giving objects perfectly toned shadows. We never experienced any unusual looking line work on the characters or environment. The only minor visual niggle was a cutscene featuring a weird looking Lenny and Carl trapped on a conveyor belt at the giant lumber plant.

That Simpsons staffers are deeply involved in the game's production and this clearly shows. This may be the best Simpsons (period) game (period) ever. Period. Hopefully, the guys at EA are already addressing some of the gameplay quibbles we experienced at Games Convention and will deliver on an amazing, hilarious adventure game.


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