Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone








The Simpsons: Road Rage attempts to transplant the long-running television showís characters into a frenetic driving game. While it may seem like a dull idea, the game features the voices of the actual cast, decent graphics and several different modes of play. We take a spin with Homer and friends to find out if this Gamecube release is a solid title or another cheap licensed game you should avoid.

On paper, this looks like a no-brainer. Itís such a simple idea: mix the frenetic gameplay Crazy Taxi with characters from the Simpsons. It should turn out to be a classic title, but things havenít gone according to plan. Unfortunately, The Simpsons Road Rage doesnít quite work as well as the concept and doesnít live up to the source material for several reasons. At the start of each level, you select one of the Simpsons characters such as Homer Bart or Marge. In Road Rage, Mr. Burns has co-opted the cityís bus system and turned it radioactive and jacked up the prices as well. To combat the evil CEO, the citizens have decided to use their own vehicles as taxis much to the chagrin of Smithersí best-friend. 

The object of Road Rage is to drive around the streets of Springfield and have to pick up a citizen and drive them to their destination in the allotted time. Itís not hard, since all you need to do is follow the arrows, avoid going in the wrong direction, take shortcuts and basically arrive. The levels are clean and simply designed, but if this isnít enough help, the destinations flash brightly when you approach them. Along the way, you dash through traffic and smash objects in your way. The course layouts are straightforward with most destinations easy enough to spot, especially after youíve played through the game a few times and can memorize their locations. Itís like taking candy from a baby though some of the later stages are tricky with longer routes that are much more difficult to play. Reaching the goal earns you money but how much you get depends on your speed Ė though you do get money on your tab as long as you have someone in the rear seat. Some passengers also give you extra money to deliver them without crashing into traffic, which isnít as easy as it sounds. Thereís a set amount of time for each level but when this runs out, youíre done. After each round, the earned money can be used to purchase additional characters and starting locations which adds some variety to the game.

In addition to the arcade mode, Road Rage offers several modes of play to make things more interesting. These play closely to the arcade mode, though each has their own objectives. In the mission mode for example, players have to complete ten different tasks and goals Ė unlocking new missions only after completing the previous levels. Some of the early missions are surprisingly simple, but the later missions are quite difficult.  There is also a head to head mode where two players have to compete for fares Ė the presentation here is decent but nothing to write home about. This is fun and the split-screen approach works well to allow for some peripheral vision. Thereís also a Sunday Drive practice mode where you can drive around the levels freely, though you canít earn any money doing this.  Aside from these extra modes, the game is surprisingly free of frills.

Unfortunately, there really isnít that much else to the game, you basically drive around and collect fares. While the levels become increasingly difficult and complex, It gets old in a hurry. Youíll need a lot of patience (or a good cheat code) to unlock all the cars in the game. This isnít much of a counterpoint to the monotony since thereís very little in the way of variety to the game which leads to low motivation earlier than youíd expect. Road Rageís substandard controls donít help much either, as theyíre more troublesome than their worth. The carsí controls feel very loose and their difficult to maneuver with much precision, with turns and reversals extremely difficult to finesse easily. The interfaceís simplistic nature doesnít allow for much in the way of cool driving techniques which also leads to a flat experience. This omission is fine from one perspective, since Road Rage doesnít offer any impetus or reward for flashy driving and stunts anyhow. So while itís a lot of fun for any Simpsons fan for the first few rounds, after the novelty wears off, thereís very little left to do.

The 3D graphics and renderings of Springfield are solid and itís cool to see the famous characters converted into models, and the visuals look good with little slowdown or pop-in evident in the Gamecube edition. Itís just a port, and doesnít really show off the GCNís power, but the visuals look reasonably decent. The famous music and the voice overs from the actual cast members are excellent and make Road Rage feel like youíre watching the show. All of the personalities of the main characters is present. Even some of the supporting cast are present, such as Principal Skinner, Groundskeeper Willie and Chief Wiggum. The voice acting here is well done and highly polished, with a great humorous touch that should please fans of the show. The best part of the game are all the little in jokes. Itís cool that theyíve gone to the effort, which is especially in the banter between the driver and passengers, which is customized to fit the driver youíre currently using.

One of the best things about Road Rage is trying to see how many Simpsonsí in-jokes you can spot since you can visit many of the more infamous locations like the Kwick E Mart,  Bowlarama and of course Mr. Burnsí Nuclear Power Plant. Unfortunately, like the show, itís fun at first, but after half an hour, youíre really bored. To be honest, itís fun while it lasts, but itís better as a rental because the extra modes donít really add much replay value to the experience. Itís a great idea but the implementation is average at best. The game itself plays like a watered-down, simplified Crazy Taxi, and doesnít take much skill to drive. The levels become increasingly difficult and oblique, which really hurts its appeal. Unfortunately, Road Rage isnít implemented well enough to make the cool ideas in it really work. So in the end, while itís a nice idea, this substandard game is disappointing. Itís a nice try, but Road Rage really doesnít live up to the Simpsons name.  

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