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Last Updated: Friday, 8 August, 2003, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Game revives Futurama

By Neil McGreevy
BBC News

The Simpsons may have been hot property on TV, but Matt Groening's jaundiced family are increasingly becoming a shadow of their former self, while the recent tie-in games have missed the mark.

Screenshot from Futurama
You can play the game as the bumbling Fry...
Thank God, then, for Futurama, which goes some way to ending the hex that plagues licensed software.

Sadly, the fifth season of the cult animation currently airing stateside is the series' swansong.

But with over 25 minutes of exclusive footage crammed into the game, this is the effectively the last ever episode of Futurama and it is completely interactive.

When Professor Farnsworth sells the Planet Express delivery ship to evil businesswoman, Mom, the autocratic octogenarian becomes supreme ruler of Earth and enslaves humanity.

Action and puzzles

Screenshot from Futurama
...or as the alcoholic robot Bender...
The Planet Express team must travel back in time to stop the evil wrinkly from gaining power in a third-person action-fest.

It features the four stars of the show - couch spud Fry, alcoholic robot Bender, one-eyed sexpot Leela and Semitic squid Dr Zoidberg.

Each is fully playable and features trademark moves and weapons in a mix of action and puzzle-solving that will take gamers from the mean streets of New New York to the very edge of the universe.

With cel-shaded graphics, original cast voiceovers and a script penned by the series' Emmy-winning scribes, Futurama is a must for fans of the show.

It has beautifully animated characters that look and sound exactly like their TV counterparts set against a vibrant world peppered with pop-cultural nods and references.

Competent diversion

Screenshot from Futurama
...or as the glamorous one-eyed sexpot Leela
Sadly, all this authenticity is set amid a flurry of platform clichés that lend Futurama a distinctly un-futuristic feel.

Still, for all its shortcomings, the game is a nigh-on perfect use of the license, delivering a fine line in plot, visuals and one-liners.

Despite the lawyer-panicking resemblance to a thousand and one other games, such gripes can be forgiven thanks to the Futurama sheen.

This is a real treat for fans of the cult series and a more than competent diversion for non-converts.

Futurama is out now for the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox


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