Family Guy fans rejoice – everyone else, take a deep breath.
Another movie/tv show tie-in game hits the shelves, and I can already hear a sigh of apprehension. It is true that the vast majority of this particular gaming sub-section are not worth your time, but it is also important to remember that fans of the given movie/tv show may get something from these games that we, the regular gamers, simply do not. However, it would be wrong to write off Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse without at least having a look.
The story would likely make more sense to a fan than someone like myself, who has only caught a couple of episodes of the show whilst finding something else to watch. It seems that Bertram, Stewie’s half brother, has got himself a device that allows him to travel the Multiverse and is planning on raising an army to destroy Stewie. Fortunately, Stewie also has a multiuniverse remote and immediately starts the chase to put a stop to Bertram, with Brian at his side of course.
What follows is a trek through various differently themed universes on the tail of Bertram, with plenty of comical hijinks in the process. For fans of the show, the third-person action shooter gameplay will come second to the shows trademark humour. It is very American, and very crude in places. That being said, there are also plenty of places where even the non-fans will find themselves giggling – usually followed by a feeling of guilt over the inappropriate jokes. Boundaries are certainly pushed in the game, but that could well be the main reason for playing to a lot of the fans.
Essentially, gameplay follows a similar formula to previous movie/tv show tie in games, in that the player wanders around a 3D level, doing the occasional bit of platforming, whilst collecting various items or completing fetch quests, and fighting off the games bad guys. There are the occasional very simple puzzles to contend with, but nothing that will trouble most gamers of reading age or higher (and if they are younger than reading age, they really should not be playing this game!). Playing the game alone will allow the player to switch between Stewie and Brian as they wish, or the game supports local co-op allowing two player to work together through the levels.
For example, the first level that Stewie and Brian visit is basically a College level and the main objective is to enlist the help of some nerds at the nerd fraternity to fix the multiuniverse remote and allow the proper tracking of Bertram. But the Nerds’ frat party is not going well and the duo have to first help them to get the party rocking by messing with the other frat parties and stealing stuff from them. There are also a number of explicit photos hidden around the level for the player to find and help out the poor sorority girl who wanted to wait until at least the second year before releasing such photos.
The main obstacle to completing the levels objectives will be fighting off the various other frat boys. Much like everything else in the game, combat is simple. Ammunition is fairly easy to come by and the player begins the game with Stewie wielding a ray gun and Brian with a pistol. More weapons become available as the game progresses, and different weapons have their different uses. There are also bosses to battle with and some interesting special attacks which will make more sense to fans of the show. There isn’t a huge amount of variation to the combat, but it works well as a third-person shooter.
As the player works their way through all 10 levels of the game, they will earn cash for their trouble which can then be used to purchase weapon or characters upgrades, and fun things like new costumes. There are plenty of additional objectives to complete, and along with the extras and achievements, there are reasons to come back and play some more once the game is over. Well, for the fans anyway. Surely even the biggest fans of the show would get bored with this. It leaves the player rushing through the final parts of the level just to see something new.
Taking the show from 2D animation to 3D feels strange. Visually, it does look quite dated now, much like similar games from a few years back. But it is faithful to the show and, when combined with the writing, will be familiar to the fans. The characters are all represented well, even if they do look a bit weird in 3D, and there are plenty of cameos from show favorites to spot throughout the game.
At the end of the day, Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is simple fan-service. As a game, it provides a few hours of very light entertainment to those who are not easily offended. But the reality is that the game is aimed more at fans of the tv show than gamers. The laughs are good, but repetitive, the gameplay is shallow and it looks dated. If you are a die-hard fan of Family Guy, then this could be fun. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother unless you have already finished all of this season’s big games and have a couple of hours to fill with mindless, inappropriate humour.