Back in 2004 the Family Guy TV show came back onto our television screens after Fox Television decided to cancel it. After a couple of years of successfully offending the masses on TV the minds behind the risqué adult cartoon decided that this was the perfect time, during a rise in the shows popularity, general acceptance and, in my opinion its intellectual high note (and those words are hard to write about Family Guy, believe me) to release a video game. 2006 rolls around, the game debuts on the original XBox and PS2 and is universally accepted as being terrible. Fast forward 6 years and it’s interesting to see how time can alter trends such as Family Guy – being a fan of the show for most of its lifespan I have slowly watched the humour degrade in recent years, the jokes turn from witty one-liners into racist, sexist and plain uncomfortable remarks and little has changed with the video game series either.
Yep, on what feels like the down slope of the Family Guy popularity ride, we find Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse now available on XBox 360, PS3 and PC and whilst the first thing you’ll notice is the improved graphics the game series makes an unfortunate habit of trying to transpose the 2D effect of the TV show into a 3D effect in game which only works until you see the characters head on or see their profile – it’s just not an angle they were designed to be seen at so sometimes the whole thing can look a bit too forced.
Whilst the graphics are improved, the same cannot be said for the rest of the game as the entire adventure feels like an exercise in licensing abuse – as you travel through The Multiverse as Stewie and Brian Griffin searching for Stewies younger brother from another dimension, Bertram, and trying to stop him from destroying basically everything – you find that the ideas and script are literally ripped directly from the TV show with little care taken to clean up the sounds or effects at all. There are no one-liners that you haven’t heard several times in the show and an over dependency on tired material such as the arduous ‘Peter hurting his knee’ gag.
The gameplay is at least reliable with the third person controls handling semi-decently, with the different choice of weapons and items to use mid-cluster-fight however really makes no difference as the enemies either have pinpoint accuracy from 100 meters away or simply stand there picking their noses, there’s no difficulty curve and whilst the controls have that overall ‘pick-up-and-play’ quality to them there aren’t enough tooltips to aid you in figuring out what your additional items do (I still don’t know what my default Left Bumper item actually does)
The game is broken up into 10 different universes including an Armish universe, a universe of evil twins and a universe completely inhabited by the physically disabled but the whole game won’t take you longer than a solid afternoon of playing to complete, roughly 4 hours maximum. Of course that’s if you can stand the gameplay for that long, with the repetitive set piece encounters and the schizophrenic AI means that gameplay can swing from controller snapping frustration to mind-numbing boredom within minutes.
There’s also the multiplayer aspect of BTTM which I’ll admit, isn’t terrible – but that as close as a silver lining as I can comfortably get with Family Guy: BTTM. With the inclusion of a show-centric game like Capture the Greased Up Deaf Guy it can actually be pretty fun but the complete omission of online multiplayer feels less like LAN party support and more like lazy developing. The whole time through playing Family Guy: BTTM I couldn’t shake the feeling that the entire game would have been better suited on the XBox Live Marketplace instead of being in a box and charging full retail price for it. Personally if Activision decide to make another Family Guy (and in a genuinely giggle-worthy moment, Stewie actually mentions a sequel but “It all depends on how much money this game will make”) I think the genre will be best suited to 2D scroll along platformers such as Ugly Americans or Castle Crashers.
Overall, I’d recommend renting the game if only to experience the slightly-better-than-terrible multiplayer but you’ll only enjoy it if you’re a devoted Family Guy fan and if you are a devoted Family Guy fan, you’ve heard everything this game has to offer, there’s nothing new that BTTM brings to the table. Also, I realise that I haven’t mentioned the Family Guy Online browser-based game but people don’t usually consider that to be a ‘real’ game, it’s like that slightly disfigured sibling you keep locked in the attic, nobody mentions it – it never happened. Along those lines then Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse is that offensive uncle you hope won’t turn up for Christmas but always shows up, reeking of bourbon. He staggers around, insults one half of the family with his racist jokes and slurs to the other half about his glory days with he was ‘on-toppa-da-world’ forgetting that we all heard this same story at Thanksgiving.
Activision provided Slimgamer with a review copy of Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse