Family Guy has come back to the….gaming universe! Six years on from the release of the cleverly named and pretty forgettable Family Guy Video Game, Family Guy is back on video game shelves worldwide. This time however the game has a different developer and publisher with Heavy Iron Studios and Activision taking the baton from High Voltage Software and 2K Games. The end result was always going to be the same though – this is a game that really only Family Guy fans will find appealing and worth spending precious pounds on.
Luckily in terms of this review, I’m a big Family Guy fan! This action-adventure/third-person shooter has three different modes, two of which I will come onto later, but I’ll start with Story Mode. The storyline in a nutshell sees Stewie and Brian Griffin follow Stewie’s arch-nemesis Bertram through multiple parallel universes to wreck his plot of destroying their universe. There are ten levels, nine of which enable the player to switch between the Brian and Stewie characters. The other level involves Peter Griffin fighting his arch enemy Ernie the Giant Chicken which is a follow on from the number of humorous battles they have had in the television series.
Now that the basic structure of the game has been described, I can now talk about the good and the bad of the story mode in terms of gameplay. The controls are incredibly simple and easy to pick up, especially for gamers who have played other well-known shooter games. Along with this the good pace and range of movement the characters exhibit make it hard for the player to want to put their controller down. Each level is diverse as the bosses and the enemies offer a very different challenge, therefore you will not find the story mode repetitive. The broad choice of weapons available to each character also aids the non-repetitive nature, although these weapons are only enabled when they are unlocked.
Throughout the story mode there is of course plenty of comedy. In certain levels you will encounter Griffin family members in humorous situations and saying a familiar quote, whether it’s Peter Griffin naked on a parade float or Lois Griffin in schoolgirl uniform on campus trying to lure the college boys. The clips in the storyline offer subtle humour as well as funny references to the television series, particularly in terms of the enemy characters. We see Joe Swanson and his ‘Crippletron’, Ernie the Giant Chicken and Long John Peter, which have all featured in the television series. Another example that will be familiar to Family Guy fans is Major Adam West’s use of a cat launcher in one episode; this sees his evil version in the game use ‘nuclear’ cat launchers.
There is good use of comedy throughout the game. Quotes on the loading screen make the loading time feel like less. In multiplayer mode there are various characters to choose from with a range of costumes to be unlocked. You can play as Lois Griffin in her underwear, Quagmire dressed as a baby, Meg Griffin as a sexy kitty and Peter Griffin in a trailer trash costume, comically named ‘flossing walrus’ (i’ll leave that one up to your imagination). These are all again references to the hugely successful television series.
This leads me quite nicely onto the other two modes. Once you have completed the story mode, which for an experienced gamer will not take very long, there is challenge mode. Challenge mode requires the player to take on large amounts of enemies in the game worlds you will have already experienced in story mode, but with the added pressures of targets/objectives to achieve and time limits. This mode is a great feature as it adds to the longevity of the game with the story mode not being particularly long but in respect to the storyline, long enough.
In my opinion the best feature in the game is the multiplayer mode. I say this because in todays world multiplayer modes in console games are few and far between due to the ever increasing popularity of online gaming. Online gaming is a spectacular invention but it’s a nice option to be able to play multiplayer face to face when your friends or family members are in the same room, rather than always communicating through a headset or keyboard. There is also a co-op mode in the story mode which allows two players to play as Brian and Stewie at the same time.
The multiplayer mode features four different game types and can be played by up to four players. This mode can keep you and your friends occupied for hours with the variety of characters, costumes, weapons and game worlds. One negative aspect of the gameplay is the weapon scrolling, which in the story mode is fine because the game pauses while a weapon or special ability is chosen, but in multiplayer due to more than one player playing the game the screen only freezes for the player trying to change weapon. For example player one might run out of ammo and while they are changing weapon player two gets free shots on a still target. This isn’t a major problem though and does kind of add the requirement of more skill than just shooting wildly at your opponents.
Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is a fairly effective game with no massive surprises but is a sure thing to not disappoint any Family Guy fan. I knew what to expect when I purchased the game and the game was just as I expected it to be. If you‘re looking for a challenging, tactical and clever third-person shooter then this won’t suffice but odds are you you’d know that. If you’re looking for a funny, time-filling and simple to play game then your search is complete.
Graphics - 65 - An animated game is never going to blow anyone away in terms of graphics, but a good job has been done here.
Sound/Music - 63 - Nothing spectacular and the sound quality is adequate at best. The speech in the cut-scenes sounds tinny.
Gameplay - 72 - Simple but effective. Very easy to pick up and play. Story mode objectives are pretty clear.
Originality - 74 - Other shows such as The Simpsons and Futurama have failed with similar attempts in the past. This game offers a rare appeal of comedy meets shoot ‘em up.
Longevity - 76 - Story mode is fairly short but the clever inclusion of challenge and multiplayer modes will keep players entertained.
Total - 70 - A solid attempt by the family from Spooner Street. A game that will make you laugh and keep you occupied for a while.
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[PlayStation 3] Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse
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