To be quite frank, we're annoyed. In fact, we'd almost go so far as to say irate. And why? Because we've been fibbed to, that's why, and potentially one of the best third-party games of the season has suffered as a result. The full reason for our ire goes back to last month when we got the chance for an extensive seven-hour session on the Wii version of The Simpsons Game. Not surprisingly, this was great, although the code required supervision of an EA representative who was not only there to stop us from getting too far (he stopped us just before the penultimate level) but also answer our questions.
As it was unfinished preview code, there were some superfluous issues - missing cutscenes, Bart's special slingshot move wasn't working and so on, but our main concern was the game's camera which, in layman's terms, was all over the place. Between making it difficult to see what was going on in places, moving to send targeted enemies off-screen and assuming a life of its own when attempting difficult jumping sections, it made the game incredibly infuriating in too many places. The rep's response? Developer Rebellion was aware of the problem and it was being fixed. Really. A month on and we've got review code, complete with all the problems fixed. Bar one. And can you guess which that might be?
Lights, Camera, Broken
The crime here is that if it wasn't for the camera often rendering the game awkward and annoying, The Simpsons Game would be a wonderful experience. It's certainly got all the right elements, as we pointed out in our big preview last month. The platform-based action is simple without becoming too repetitive, the mix of character-specific moves and puzzles relying on swapping between them helps keep things interesting and there are enough hidden collectables and neat tricks to offer plenty of replay value.
Plus, best of all, it's easily the funniest game we've ever played and had us laughing from beginning to end, simply because it's the perfect example of the games industry taking the mickey out of itself. Never has a game made us chortle out loud to such an extent and for all the right reasons. The last collection of levels in particular (from the Medal Of Honor and GTA send-ups, to the final two which we're obviously not going to spoil here) had us in fits. Like we said, the script turns a basic platform adventure into a work of genius and, perhaps more importantly, a genuinely enjoyable use of a license.
Strife Through A Lens
Unfortunately, the game's one massive fault - yes, the camera - blunders in and breaks all the china. To be fair, we've done our research and discovered that the camera's rubbish across all the versions (bar DS), so it's not just the Wii that suffers, although the fact that the Wii game is cut down and missing elements that are in all the versions appearing on other consoles is
a bit of a bummer.
When the rest of the package is so enjoyable, it's bitterly disappointing that such a fundamental element essentially breaks the experience. It's not totally unplayable but, equally, it's an experience that'll see you cursing your inability to complete simple tasks as often as laughing at all of the jokes. The phrase 'D'oh!' has never been so apt.