Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse review

Fingers crossed, let this be the one. The videogame version of an animated TV show that isn’t terrible. The Simpsons and South Park are two of the big hitters to have failed recently, but can Family Guy turn it around?

Surely everyone must know all about Family Guy by now? First aired in 1999, Seth MacFarlane’s brain child is now a global phenomenon. Well known for staying at a consistent standard, and by being slightly less offensive than South Park, this award winning show is loved by many. Spin offs have followed in the form of the Cleveland show, and American Dad (to a degree), and even the film world is now being tested with Ted. But, there is yet to be a successful game. There was a Family Guy on Xbox and PS2 that received average scores, and an online multiplayer game is still in development. This is the first next-gen game that they have released, and Heavy Iron will be hoping that they can keep the Family Guy ‘hot streak’ continuing.

The plot for this game is a continuation of the ‘Road to the Multiverse’ episode (where Stewie and Brian travel through parallel universes) and the ‘Big Bang Theory’ episode (where Stewie and Brian travel through time to stop evil half brother Bertram from killing Stewie’s ancestors). Where an original plot would have been nice, the developers have taken the safe approach of sticking with two of the more popular storylines. A version of Bertram appears and announces that he is assembling an army throughout the Multiverse in order to destroy the main Family Guy universe. Whilst the story is classic Family Guy, everything else sadly starts to drop in standard.

The graphics are poor, and that’s being kind. Even bearing in mind that this game will not look realistic, this is just a rough effort. The show looks much sharper on TV than in this game. Texture mapping is average, and the characters are blocky and poorly detailed. This game is on a par with PS2 graphics. Accuracy is spot on though, and the player will never be confused as to who’s who. They may still be wondering if they have been in some kind of accident though. Levels have a good mix putting the parallel universe them to good effect, featuring a drunk student level, a Christmas level, and an Amish universe amongst others, and each are recognisable, and look different from the last. This is the redeeming feature for the graphics.

Is the humour good though? Do the actors lend their voices to the game? A big yes. But, there is a massive draw back. Most of the lines are recycled from the show. So for the real fans, the target audience, they will be hearing the same jokes that they have heard a hundred times before. And they will hear them another hundred times as each line is repeated on loop. Half of them don’t even suit the level, and it gives the impression that the developer just picked a list of their favourite quotes, and threw them in the game. Credit where it’s due, the cut scenes that have been created for the game are fine, but the level content is more tedious than fun.

Gameplay is an over the shoulder shooter. Controls are simple, and it is very easy to pick up and play. A child could play it, if it was aimed for them. The player controls either Stewie or Brian, in a ‘drop in drop out’ style, or both can be played in co-op fashion. Both have their own weapons, which does mean slightly different tactics depending on which character is being used. The level targets are very simple, generally revolving around collecting certain items, and returning to whoever told you to get them, or finding a certain number of item’s in the level. It harks back to older platforming games, and is enjoyable, if repetitive. Levels end with a boss battle which is the only time the player really needs to think or use strategy, as the rest of time it is pretty simple. Money is found / earned in the levels, and this can be spent to buy upgrades and different costumes and the like.

There is a multiplayer mode, which lets you control a greater variety of characters, but it is local only. Whilst it is playable, there are just too many better options for a modern gamer out there, and this would be no more than a fleeting novelty. There is also a challenge mode, but it is very much more of the same, and is neither challenging or long lasting.

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is completely frustrating. It shows enough moments to make the player think that it’s going to be half decent, and then it just punches them in the face like a giant chicken. The graphics are average, and the audio is just annoying. The main impression that shines through is that the developers got bored halfway through making it, or just rushed it to make release deadlines. This would make an excellent PSN or XBLA game, and would be worth paying top price for. But as a top price full release game, this should be a lot better.