When Seth MacFarlane created the family guy animated series, he had based the family on an animated film he had made called Larry & Steve. Many people think he had seen The Simpsons and thought the world needed a similar family for adults, which contained adult material. When 5 years ago I saw that the Simpsons got a new game for the current generation computers, I thought it was surely only a matter of time until the Family Guy made a comeback. The only doubt was whether it would be smoking hot as Lois, or something to avoid like Meg!
This game is based on an episode from series 8 called Road to the Multiverse when Stewie and Brian went back in time and every time they tried to return to Quahog they appeared in a different parallel universe, and an episode called “The Big Bang Theory” when Bertram tries to kill Stewie in the past. Obviously the game needs to be longer than two lots of 25 minutes, so Heavy Iron Studios through Activision have penned a way to link this episode to an 8 level story.
In the opening cut scene you find out that Bertram, Stewie’s evil brother is waging war on Stewie, however to do this Bertram decides to visit parallel universes to gain the weaponry needed to win. Stewie then decides to follow Bertram’s movements in each world destroying all the weaponry as quickly as possible. Now cue the strange parallel universes of Quahog, each one controlled by a character from the TV series.
The first world is a world where Mort is hosting a party and needs you to help collect parts to make his party better. Basically this is a training world that allows you to get used to the controls and also to help you get used to switching between Stewie and Brain. The switching is there to enable you to tag one person out before their health is depleted and it becomes game over (well it really just restarts you again at the last checkpoint), a bit like in the wrestling tag team games. However health boxes lay around the map and will respawn after about 20 seconds, so if you wait you can fill you health meter reasonable easily.
Once you complete this world by beating a level end boss (a big jock in this case) Mort provides you with part to fix your transporter (which had broken in the first use) to allow you to move in to the next universe. Then in the new universe you are told your task and this must be carried out, complete this to find another level end boss, and repeat.
This is one of the issues I personally have with the game, as it plays like a 1980s platformer. What I mean by this is that the levels are very linear so there is not really any free movement in the maps. Yes you can move anywhere you want that is opened, but until you complete a task some of the world is closed off. However to complete the game most of the picks ups and so on can be found en route meaning you don’t tend to do any free running. It reminds me of a young kids game like Madagascar, just with adult material.
To try to take this linear effect away from the game, characters such the Griffin family, Quagmire and Herbert are strewn through levels with one liners that will make you laugh. However then if you double back and find them again they still say the same line. This makes the game very sterile as even Stewie and Brian say the same phrases over and over again tediously, which seems a waste with the amount of TV speech that could have been used.
Another issue for me is that every time you warp to a new universe you are treated to the same loading screen that shows Stewie and Brian on a spinning red background, while the odd one liner or hint is displayed in text at the bottom of the screen. Why they could not have had the voice over of the lines from the TV episodes playing baffles me, as for the minute you are waiting for the next level to load you sit there in silence. Maybe the licence rights did not go as far as using clips, but as the game features carbon copies of things that have happen in the TV series it would seem weird that this would be left out.
The game is playable though and even with the issues mentioned above, still manages to pull out an enjoyable play through. If however you are like me, you will not go back to try to complete all the collectables and 100% the game as it was a play once and put away. It is a shame as it was billed as a game to end the poor TV cartoon / console game tie ins. Unfortunately all it has ended is my belief that there will be a good tie in any time soon.
Should you want to extend the life of the game there are multiplayer modes for you to get stuck in to. If you have 2 people in your home then you can play the co-op mode, allowing you to play with another human being. Word of warning though, if they are not avid Family Guy fans, they can get easily offended by either the Family Guy material or that you asked them to play the game with you.
Further there is a multiplayer mode allowing you to pick the player of your choice and each character having special moves to inflict damage on your foes in death matches or capture the flag modes. A major failure of this is that while this can be enjoyable, this mode is only available as an offline game mode. Therefore unless again you’ll have a friend/family member that is often at home then you will play this once in a while (or as Stewie would say “a whhhile”). The lack of online modes seems like the multiplayer was just added on to the game last minute to pad out the disc and to try to make the game a full budget title.
In closing Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is not a game to rate as a must buy, or even a must play. However nor is it one that I would say needs to be avoided at all costs, I would say if you are fan of the television series then you will have some fun playing it. If you dislike the series then you probably won’t have been bothered by the game in the first place. Therefore the game is not a Meg nor is a Louis; it is more of a Cleveland Brown.
Reviewed on PS3