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    mrfredman's The Simpsons Game (PS2)

    [January 13, 2008 10:20:12 PM]

    So, I just beat the game, on co-op no less. Playing this game with another player was a bit of a different experience. Each player is relegated to one character, totally unsurprising, but somewhat frustrating. Seeing as my companion was new to the game and coming in on a final level (all you have to do is plug in a controller and hit the start button to start playing which is a nice feature) I found myself giving him a very brief tutorial and then bossing him around for the rest of the level, because I understood all of the puzzles and level solutions were intuitive for me. I think it would have been a different experience if we had started the game together and played straight through on co-op, but I found playing with another player to be a bit of an impediment in the game, and our social interactions weren't terribly enjoyable for either of us. Although as began to get the hang of it the level of enjoyment increased.
    I realize now that one of the downfalls of this game is that it is trying to be both a two player game and single player game at the same time. Therefore both gametypes suffer. In singleplayer the AI of your non-active character is totally useless which I feel like is the developers way of hinting that I should be playing with a friend. Yet with two players a lot of game time is spent sitting around while your friend completes a puzzle so you can continue, and while technically you are working together to complete a level it feels like you are just taking turns.
    As we played we fell into many of the same pitfalls that I had experienced in singleplayer, confusing level design, puzzles that were vague about their goals, and frustrating camera angles (which I'm realizing I neglected to mention in the first post). Overall it was a mediocre multiplayer experience, with a few highs and exciting parts, but mostly similar gameplay to the singleplayer game.


    [+] First of all the overall game design is good. The best part of the game is how seamlessly intigrated and amusing the cutscenes are.

    [+] One decision the developers made was to do away with finite lives and time. Players can die as many times as they want with no consequence. The game is made for completists, you are rewarded if you get through a level quickly, collect all the special objects, and don't die, but if you fail to do any of these things there are no consequences. I disagree with this choice and I found myself getting lazy and goofing off, jumping off of levels for fun, etc. because I knew I couldn't get a perfect score on the first run through, so why bother trying. I understand the decision to get rid of lives, it is clearly to lower the learning curve and the ease of play, but I have a hard time getting into a game with no visible consequences.

    [+] Most of the mini-games were enjoyable but only because of the setup, art, and sound, not because of the gameplay. Most of the mini-games were meant to be satirical, but when we focus only on the gameplay they come across as hackneyed clones. I feel like more effort could have gone into getting timings right and tweaking gameplay to make it more enjoyable.

    [+] I thought that the different characters in the game were well balanced but different enough that I would look forward to the change of pace. When playing with Homer and Bart the game is pretty much a 3rd person brawler, but when playing with Lisa and Marge it feels far more like a puzzle game. I think that the developers did a good job making the characters unique and there's nothing I can think of that would have improved that experience.

    [+] There was practically no change in difficulty the entire way through the game. The first level was just as difficult as the last level (although the last level was significantly longer). I didn't feel like the skills and abilities I'd picked up as I played the game were put to good use and I felt ripped off. The mini-games even got easier as the game went on; the final boss battle was a really bad rythm-game played with the analog pad. It was tedious and frustrating, I would have hoped the game went out on a better note. (Also, it was probably a glitch but none of the enemies on the last level even fought back, but I should probably go back and see if it happens again)
    read comments (1) read comments - add a comment Add comment
    [January 13, 2008 04:35:42 PM]
    The Simpsons Game is a 3D platformer with just enough twists on traditional gameplay (in the form of mini-games and puzzles) to keep the player guessing. The game has an excellent story and great art and voice-acting straight from the show which greatly up the caliber of the game.

    So you've caught me towards the end of this game, I'm already at the final climactic 4 episodes before the final boss. I've really been enjoying myself so far, and I often find myself laughing out loud. This game is funnier than any Simpsons episode I have seen in years.
    There are two sides to this game in my mind, one of which is excellent, and one which could use some work. The art and overall feel for the game is top-quality, the game plays like a Simpsons episode, with lots of cameos by the residents of Springfield and a general disregard for continuity and logic in exchange for lots of four-fingered, yellow humor. The plot of the game is very funny and aimed (headshot!) right at the gaming community with barbs at GameStop (SequalStop), GTA (including some appearances by Jack Thompson), and practically every influential game ever made. Right now I'm running around in a lobby with posters for Medal of Homer, Sitar Hero, Zero-Life, etc.

    The one flaw in this title is the gameplay. There has clearly been a very conscious effort to expand on traditional platformer play. Each character comes with a special ability which leads to something new. My favorite is Homer who can turn into an obese Katamari-esque ball, collect food and bowl over enemies. The most unique is Lisa who has to find special Buddhist checkpoints, where, once activated, the player gets a top-down view of the level and can pick up certain objects to solve puzzles, the puzzles are often very simple, and it can sometimes be a bit frustrating to switch between types of gameplay, but its pretty well executed. The frustrating part of the game (at least for me) is the level design, practically all of the levels involve some sort of jumping puzzle (an overused and frustrating challenge in my opinion) and some levels are nothing but. Often when you fall you have start at the bottom of the level and climb all the way back up, usually repeatedly, until the games need for jumping has been sated. Another thing I took issue with was the visibility of the puzzles. I repeatedly found myself sitting in an empty level, with all the enemies defeated, jumping around and hitting the action button in an attempt to find the exact spot the game is asking for to move on.

    While the gameplay can be frustrating at times, mostly its fun to play and the humor keeps me moving forward and enjoying myself. I'm off to experiment with the multiplayer co-op aspect of the game, I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

    This entry has been edited 3 times. It was last edited on Jan 13th, 2008 at 17:36:51.

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    mrfredman's The Simpsons Game (PS2)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 13 January, 2008

    GameLog closed on: Monday 14 January, 2008

    mrfredman's opinion and rating for this game

    Decent gameplay with great art, story, and voice talent. Except for the times I find myself having to repeat parts of a tedious puzzle over and over again, it feels like an episode of the Simpsons.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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