Game Reviews

The Simpsons: Tapped Out

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The Simpsons: Tapped Out

[Note: The Simpsons: Tapped Out is currently unavailable for download due to high demand.]

The Simpsons haven't had the best of luck when it comes to video games. Despite the cartoon family's rampant televisual success, the show's brand of humour has never quite worked in an interactive setting.

So it's no surprise to see EA hedging its bets with The Simpsons: Tapped Out, a FarmVille clone built around a freemium model that's using its licence as much as its gameplay to drag in the punters.

The result isn't terrible, if nagging time-sinks are your bag, but it continues the thread of underwhelming games built around one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.

SpringfieldVille

The game starts with Homer at work, jabbing at an iPad-like device and commenting about how boring the FarmVille clone he's playing is. There are some jokes, and then a nuclear explosion wipes Springfield from the face of the Earth. It's your job to rebuild the fair city however you see fit.

A tutorial walks you through the ins and outs of town-planning, teaching you how to buy houses, complete quests, and earn the game's two currencies: cash and donuts. Donuts are as rare as a witty turn of phrase, but you can buy them for real life monies.

Cash buys bog-standard items - the sort of stuff you'll need to make a thriving community full of second-rate characters who aren't that interesting. If you want the show's big guns, you'll have to spend donuts.

Not that cromulent

Quests appear as exclamation marks hanging over characters' heads. Tap on one and you'll get a little snatch of not-too-pithy dialogue before that character sets off on his merry way to perform whatever menial task you've set for him.

Completing these tasks can take hours, but - unsurprisingly - adding a liberal dollop of donuts to the mix will speed things up. The same goes for building new structures, which earn you cash and XP in the form of taxation.

Once a day you can visit alternate Springfields - either the one the game provides, or one that a friend has created. You get to earn cash there, too, and your friends can do the same in your version of the town. You'll need to have an Origin account to access the online features, though.

Needs embiggening

Gameplay is punctuated by occasional jokes from the cast of the show. Most of these are poking fun at you for being conned out of your money by the freemium model, and more often than not they feel mean-spirited rather than satirical.

The Simpsons: Tapped Out wants to let you create and manage your own little Springfield, filling it up with characters you know and love. In the end, though, it all feels a bit too cloying. It barks at you for attention, rewarding constant play but charging you to reap the benefits if you miss a day.

And when it comes to the gameplay, there just isn't enough variety to keep you entertained. Much like Homer at the start of the game, all you're doing is tapping on the screen, and deciding whether or not to spend your hard-earned snacks on speeding things up.

What you're left with is a parody that's far too close to the real thing for comfort.

The Simpsons: Tapped Out

Trading on its licence and some scraps of humour from the Simpsons table, The Simpsons: Tapped Out is a bog-standard city sim with little to recommend it once you get past the Groening gloss
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