“Can a woman really be Mayor, or will she just menstruate all over the city?” and so begins the over accentuated in-your-face profanities that seems to pour itself out from just the games main menu screen before you have even played the story – and does it get any better than this? Sadly not as the latest Family Guy game from Activision just feels like a fan-targeted effort to make a quick buck from a popular well-known TV show.
Developed by Heavy Iron, it’s a really good effort at trying to make a game feel and play like an episode from the Family Guy animated series, but it fails miserably at being anything enjoyable. The animated cut-scenes look every bit like a snippet from the shows, but the third-person shooter combined platform elements that have you run around replicated environments feel as if the gameplay was purely designed for a three year old child. It’s a simple objective based mission of running around from A to B where the highlight of the story is popping a few balloons and collecting a few items – or just shoot, run, escape and hey presto objective complete.
Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse, has many annoyances that not only include its really short story mode, but the constant throw-back dialogue that repeats itself over and over destroys any comedic impression it aims to create because it is repetitive. It’s hard to believe that something can be so annoying because it tries to be funny way too much, a constant stream of sentences written to make you laugh terms such as “knob-gobbler” and “I can’t have babies anymore, so fill me up..!” are spoken of, which is quite mild in comparison to the rest heard in later chapters. Maybe the game was designed in a way where laughter would take your mind away from the trail of a really terrible story mode, or it would be “that” funny you would focus on the one-liners instead of everything else that is so painstakingly boring.
The story itself features local co-operative multiplayer, and you or a friend together can get to take the reins of the much loved characters Stewie (the young foul mouthed rugby-headed child) and Brian, the Griffin family dog. The main focus and plot is on battling with Stewie’s half-brother Bertram who has come from a universe into the Griffin family’s world with the help of a multiverse-traveling remote control – with the bold intention to eliminate Stewie. Each chapter within the game is a different universe with many of them based on the ones in the Family Guy episode titled “Road to the Multiverse” with ten different universes playable throughout in a matter of a few short hours. In each chapter both Stewie and Brian will follow Bertram to tackle his army and battle against other well-known characters from the show before a major show down between the two brothers. The story is pretty feasible, but the developers haven’t been able to make the gameplay connect with the plot lines – it’s forgettable.
Family Guy is a funny tv series; it’s one of those love it or hate it adult themed animated shows that would make even the most prudish of person frown or smirk, and in some cases downright hysterical. I have nothing against it; it’s light-hearted banter and can be very entertaining, so if you are thinking of buying this game because you love the show itself – you will be disappointed by the simple gameplay mechanics of basic survival with random objectives and cheap use of dialogue thrown in copy and pasted from the series. I’d like to say stick to just watching the shows, but it’s your call, your money – would you want to waste it? Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is an embarrassment to the Family Guy name, but the visuals however are fantastic and do look very close to the cartoon nature of the series. I have to give credit where credit is due, the game may be bad, but visually it looks just like a cartoon only 3-Dimensional now. It does have the occasional entertaining chapters where you get to use Sniper Rifles, Ray Guns, Flame Throwers, Molotov’s and cause complete havoc; you can even buy new outfits, weapons and items from the in-game store with cash you’ve collected on your journey. Sadly there are not enough of the entertaining parts to make any of the overall experience playing it worthwhile. You end up just wanting to see a chapter through to unlock an Achievement – If you can’t do anything else riveting you just as well top up your Gamerscore!
Just when you think things couldn’t get any more abysmal, when you have that little bit of hope that a bad campaign or story can be compromised by having a really great Multiplayer – Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse offers nothing that you can play over Xbox LIVE, but instead a rancid four-player split-screen selection of game modes that range from Deathmatch – just run and shoot, Multiverse Madness – a form of Horde Mode in Family Guy style, Capture the Greased –Up Deaf Guy – a unique take on Capture the Flag, and finally, Infiltration – an objective based game where the objectives are always changing across the multiplayer environments, most points for the win.
I think to sum up Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse, the absolute best part of the game is the fantastic and superbly done box art on the cover – everything else from there on in is pitiful. Activision has published a game that makes a mockery out of your mentality.
Avoid at all costs!