Is it as good as Half-Life 2?
I always find it funny that Half-Life 2 is one of the highest-rated PC games of all time when it wasn't always that way. It took a long time for people to come around and get behind Half-Life 2 because of the way the launch was choked with the unpopular launch of Valve's Steam DRM service.
It's probably because it was so obvious that the service acted as DRM and not as an actual service. Customers were upset at the way it hampered their ability to launch and enjoy a game they were looking forward to for years on end. Even GameRevolution's review still reads with a twinge of anger and resentment at Valve for hindering what was anticipated for so long. And that brings me to the trouble with The Simpsons: Tapped Out and the Electronic Arts-run Origin service that's tacked on like the binding on a mule.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out is a free-to-play game that brings Homer all of your favorite characters to your iPhone or iPad. I say iPhone or iPad because you must be connected to the Internet to play. If you do not have an internet connection, you will not be able to see your town, interact with its inhabitants, or play the game in any way.
I don't think many iPod Touch users have 3G service for their devices. But even if you should have spotty service on your phone, you might never see the Springfield you always imagined pop up in front of your eyes. Beyond the Origin hiccups (and you will experience hiccups), Tapped Out is actually a lot of on-the-go entertainment.
Lisa, Homer, Cletus, Apu, Mr. Burns, Skinner, Milhouse… the list goes on, and on… and on. There are a ton of characters to achieve in Tapped Out, with even more niche figures behind the pay wall. For the right price, you can even get Hank Scorpio and his volcano lair for your reconstructed Springfield.
Scheduling tasks and erecting landmarks is easy and, more importantly, entertaining because nearly all of them reference classic Simpsons gags and episodes. I particularly enjoy making Milhouse fly a scale model plane perfectly level or having Apu feed the Octoplets.
The Simpsons has everything you need for an excellent free-to-play game, including universal appeal, a wealth of material, and excellent little sound bytes like "D'oh" and Krusty's iconic laugh. It's just a shame that Electronics Arts has to choke the life out of that wonder with their oppressive Origin service. When Bart plugs that server back in, I'm going to have a lot of fun, but I'm wondering exactly how long it'll be until that payoff.