While we've seen EA's upcoming Simpsons game quite a bit recently, the game continues to pleasantly surprise us. The tongue-in-cheek adventure finds the animated family braving the perilous world of video games in a platformer that stars the whole clan.
We had the chance to check out some new levels in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game at EA's press event today. These levels showed off the game's smart wit and fun gameplay.
The version of the game on display at the event featured a broad sampling of levels that included many we've seen before and two new levels. The first new level, The Land of Chocolate, serves as the game's tutorial. For those unfamiliar with the classic fantasy sequence, this level is set in a candy-fueled dream had by Homer. The level opens with a cinematic that's right out of the cartoon and then segues to gameplay. Your goal in the level is to follow a white chocolate rabbit through a chocolate village and to the top of a cake. Along the way, you're filled in on the basics of gameplay and the various collectibles in the game.
The second level was dubbed Super Happy Fun Fun and is a video game parody along the lines of what we've seen in Medal of Homer. The level is a fast-paced mashup of video game and series in-jokes that work well together. The opening cinematic finds Homer and Lisa confronted by a large Milhouse, looking suspiciously like the King of All Cosmos from Katamari Damacy. Despite his giant stature, the bespectacled dude is still as insecure as ever and fawns over an unimpressed Lisa. As Lisa and Homer journey through, they encounter ice and fire levels. They also engage in a turn-based battle that mixes Pok£mon and Final Fantasy, which is all good, funny stuff. Sharp-eyed players will recognize Comic Book Guy as sumo wrestlers you'll encounter, but more importantly, the mighty Mister Sparkle.
Both levels showcased the solid platforming mechanics and controls that have stood out in our previous looks at the game. Controlling and swapping characters is easy, while the level design is a good mix of traditional running and jumping.
The game's presentation makes smart use of the processing power of both consoles. The graphical muscle is devoted to ensuring the characters and environments look authentic when compared to the cartoon. As such, the character's animations, both in action and when idle, look great. In addition, the environments are spruced up by some high-tech flourishes, such as transparencies and other special effects that look sharp. Audio in the game stood out thanks to a hefty amount of dialogue from the series cast and well-written dialogue. In-game music was low-key and didn't really stand out.
Based on what we played, The Simpsons is shaping up to be the best game made for the family in a good long while. It's funny, looks good, and--more importantly--seems to play well, which isn't something that can be said about many of the previous Simpsons games. Fans of the series or anyone looking for an engaging platformer with a sense of humor will do well to keep an eye out for the Simpsons when it ships this October for the DS, PlayStation 3, PSP, Wii, and Xbox 360.