I love Family Guy. I really do. The uncomfortable reflection at western society, the near the knuckle humour and most of all the characters. Going against my better judgement I even purchased the PSP game released a few years ago and was bitterly disappointed in not only the graphics but also the gameplay and the story, after all it was a tie in game.
Then last year came the Free to Play Browser MMO of Family Guy. This captured the mood and humour of Family Guy perfectly. One of the downsides however was that you couldn’t play as your favourite character from the show only a created one based on the class of Peter, Lois, Chris, Stewie and Brian.
Fast forward 12 months and tie in games have continued to improve dramatically but are still miss more often than hit. For every Walking Dead there is an Expendables, a Battleship and a Game of Thrones.
At first glance Family Guy appears to swaying towards the Walking Dead side of the scale, the screenshots and trailers released looked crisp and like they had been pulled from the TV show.
The set up for the game is also perfect. You follow Stewies evil, ginger haired (obviously), half-brother through a variety of parallel universes which are joint together by the Multiverse Remote – a device made famous in a previous episode of the TV show. This results in a multitude of wacky themes for the worlds such as Frat boys running the world or the world where Alien chickens – in a superb pop culture reference – are in charge.
You also control Stewie and Brian. The best goddam double act on TV since….well it doesn’t matter since who. Stewie and Brian are awesome. Let’s leave it at that.
For fans of the show, the game starts with the actual intro that you would watch if you tuned into Family Guy. You then view a cut scene detailing the plot and whilst it’s a little fuzzy around the edges – due to it not being hand drawn – compared to watching the TV show it’s there or thereabouts with the characters voiced by Seth McFarlane and the humour nailed pretty much spot on.
It pretty much goes downhill from here on in. For months I thought that this really could be one of my favourite games of the year. Oh how expectation breeds disappointment.
The level objectives range from the simple to the very simple. The majority of which are “go from point A to point B” killing enemies along the way, flipping switches or collecting items and has a completion time of roughly 6 hours. There are collectables on each level to go back for but these only unlock a very small amount of alternative costumes and weapons to be used purely in the single player campaign. The very same campaign that you will have more than likely completed before you go back to collect them.
There is very little challenge in the actual levels either with an AI that is, in fact you can’t even call it an AI as the I stands for Intelligence which the enemies in Back to the Multiverse show either little or none of – the fact that I only died twice during the entire game is a testament to that.
The sound bites will soon have you banging your head off the wall when you hear one of the “pick up” quotes repeated for the eighth or ninth time during the same level. Yes, some things are lifted directly from the show and work so well – Peter milkshaking on the float springs to mind – but the game has been crammed with many poorly recorded historic lines that they so often are misplaced and fail miserably in what the game is trying to achieve.
But not to worry, the banter you can have with your friends in the online multiplayer will more than make up for this. Wait. What? The multiplayer isn’t online? Well I’m all for a little bit of old school Couch co-op but surely a team death match pitting your favourite characters against each other over Live and PSN is the biggest missed gaming opportunity of 2012.
The one shining beacon of light in all of this is the challenge mode. Whilst not overly taxing with challenges ranging from the collect X items in X amount of time to the complete the level without killing innocents. It does however, allow you to control the other residents of Quahog. After hearing Stewie declare that victory will be his for 6 hours it makes a welcome relief to control someone new.
It dawned on me when I was finishing up the game, the reason that some of the humour worked in the game was because it was Family Guy, the reason I played through the levels to watch the next cut scene was because it was Family Guy and the reason I wanted this game so much was because it was Family Guy.
If you take Family Guy out of the equation you are left with an unchallenging, unfunny, repetitive, sorry excuse for 3rd person shooter. The real question is can fans of the show forgive that?
MLG Rating: 4/10 Platform: PS3 / Xbox 360 Release Date: 20/11/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a copy of Family Guy BTTM for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of 2 weeks on a Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.