Futurama - Hands on impressions of this classic cartoon game! from www.gamenation.com.au
Futurama is the classic cartoon series from the makers of the Simpsons, and now SCI are putting the finishing touches on the official game that perfectly recreates the cartoon on the Xbox, PS2 and Game Cube consoles.
As soon as you power on the game you’re instantly hit with 20th century Fox theme, closely followed by the Futurama them which leads into some video of the cartoon that has been made exclusively for the game. Not that the game needs it, Futurama uses the infamous ‘Cell shading’ graphic technique, previously seen in games like Sega’s Jet Set Radio Future and Atari’s Taz Wanted, to great effect. The visuals look exactly like the cartoon, and the cartoon’s developer, Mat Groening, has been involved with the development of the game to ensure this. From the textures on the floor of the Professors workshop to the metallic walls of the giant Destructor Robot’s room in Mom’s Factory, this game is classic Groening cartoon goodness in its visual style. The game runs in the Xbox and PS2’s standard high resolution mode and this actually makes it look sharper and more detailed than the cartoon series, and like the cartoon the world’s are wonderfully detailed with all sorts of weird, demented stuff.
Futurama is essentially a platform-based 3D adventure game where you get to control the three main characters of the cartoon, Fry, Bender the Robot and Leela. All three characters are used at different points in the game and all have different weapons and abilities.
The game begins at the Planet Express headquarters. Professor Farnsworth tells the three heroes that he he has sold the company to Mom, the evil businesswoman. Seconds later, we discover that Mom now owns over 50% of the Earth, and has appointed herself supreme leader. The entirety of humanity is now enslaved, under pain of execution by Mom's robot death troopers, and must work to her plan of turning the Earth into a giant warship, with which Mom will conquer the galaxy. So… obviously this state of affairs makes Fry, Bender and Leela sick and they vow to leave the planet earth forever and its here where the adventure starts. Mom has her eyes set on buying Planet Express and she won’t let them get away so easily…
You get to control the characters from the 3rd person perspective, although you can freely switch to 1st person viewpoint to look at your surroundings or target enemies (using Fry as he has a gun). Fry’s attacks involve using a gun, whilst Bender swings his mechanical arms around like a madman and Leela uses martial arts abilities including standing and jumping kicks and a variety of punches. Futurama’s levels are a mix of traditional platform action (much like Mario 64, Zelda: Wind Waker etc), yet the use of a 1st person view becomes a regular necessity when targeting enemies with Fry especially. The platform action is up there with the best in the genre and it’s mixed in with clever puzzles and some tough fighting action that will push hardened platforming fans to their limits.
What really makes the game though, is the official license. Together with Matt Groening’s art direction, the game features the voice-overs from the series, so it makes the game that much more a Futurama experience. You’re constantly bombarded with witty comments from your character and others as you move about the game, and the wise cracks, and comic graphic appeal will make the game an instant hit for fans of the series, or even Simpson’s fans who share the same love for satirical comedies. As mentioned, the game is filled with around 30 mins of cartoon footage that’s exclusive to the game, and this can be unlocked and replayed once you come across it mid-game.
Overall, Futurama is a great game license that has come to consoles exceptionally well. For fans who just can’t get enough of the show on free-to-air TV, it’s a must buy as it will make you laugh just as much as the cartoon series, while providing a great platform game to boot. Even if you don’t know much about the cartoon, this game can open up a can of worms for you that will show you that there are many games and shows out there today that may look like their aimed at kids, but in reality carry a great sense of humour that appeals to an older market.