It was only a matter of time before the Griffin family would grace consoles again. As with those that came before it, whether The Simpson’s classic or the typical movie game tie-in, it all very much falls under the same category and usually leads to mediocrity at best. Does the Family Guy humour that fans are all now accustomed to provide enough laughs for Stewie and Brian’s co-operative adventure, or is this game no laughing matter?
Family Guy Back to the Multiverse features a surprisingly high amount of content – at first glance. The emphasis is clearly on co-operative play with the the story allowing for 2-player co-op throughout. While you don’t get to control the whole Griffin family; it’s baby Stewie that takes centre stage with co-op canine companion Brian by his side or to switch between in solo play. Stewie’s arch nemesis Bertram – that’s the ginger baby – has re-emerged from another dimension to announce his evil plan to travel the Multiverse and build an army to destroy the Griffin family once and for all. As the full title indicates, Stewie and Brian must travel Back to the Multiverse! in order to hinder Bertram’s evil plot.
There’s enough laughs and gags throughout to keep fans amused until the stories conclusion, and although there’s ten levels to get through it’s all very much quiet the brief experience with only a handful of boss encounters to cause a stir. It very much plays like your typical 3rd person action outing with a primary objective to focus on throughout each level, as well as several secondary objectives to more fully explore the environment and reap some rewards for your efforts. Brand new weaponry and gadgets will unlock during play and can also be purchased with many a visual store portal scattered throughout the levels to spend your moolah on. Store items range from buying new characters, costumes, health packs etc., to chicken eggs, which when thrown bring in Peter’s feathery nemesis to lay some fisticuffs down to fight alongside you. There’s several like this, from a wheel-chaired Joe Swanson to throw out in a similar manner who will momentarily wheel around gunning down your enemies, or of course you can just throw one of Stewie’s dirty nappies; it might well be a bit crappy, but it’s effective nonetheless.
The cutscenes between levels are up to Family Guy typical standards with the usual TV show perspective, and naturally it sounds like the whole cast are accounted for with regards to voice-overs. It’s not just in brief story scenes either, there’s plenty of NPC’s scattered around the levels with one-liners, yes, literally one-liners – they won’t stop repeating them! Somewhat irritating also is in-game stutters – where the game pauses momentarily – presumably due to the action on screen, though visually it’s not exactly pushing the console to it limits.
Regardless of some repeated gags, the typical Family Guy humour does work wonders. As for the actual gameplay experience, it’s frankly quite basic with no real challenge bar the odd boss encounter. Still, the story mode itself does offer up variety with all ten levels offering drastically different environments and enemies to battle against, and although a full arsenal of firearms becomes available, the basic combat is rather unsatisfying. As mentioned, the highlights come in the form of throwing out the special objects such as the chicken grenades, or Rupert, the gunning-in-a-box-bear, and others for more amusing affect to go alongside the rather basic melee and shooting mechanics.
It looks like they have not heard about the word: online.
The story mode is rather short-lived, though with an the emphasis on co-op and secondary objectives in collectible items, there may be a desire to re-play – though going back and doing it all again may not be so desirable, as besides the humour present first time around, it’s quite the mundane experience. Co-op in such instances can often help alleviate such woes, though the co-op play featured is sorely for split-screen use only – there is no online play.
Family Guy’s lack of online functionality is all the more frustrating, not only due to the campaign being co-op – as that’s a frustration shared for many years with regards to the popular Lego licensed series as well – but besides the co-op focused story, there’s also a full suite of other co-op and multiplayer features present, all of which has Quagmire and Meg gagging for some online action.
You might well be accustomed to survival modes from past shooters, whether it be Zombies in Call of Duty, Horde in Gears of War, or Firefight from Halo – low and behold, even with only split-screen play being available, Family Guy otherwise has all the back of boxes ticked with some of its own hilarious spin added to such modes. It’s all very much pointless, and all the more infuriating without online play being present and simply just a sorely missed opportunity for something that could have added some further longevity to an otherwise average experience.
Family Guy’s humour is very much present, and it’s the only positive to take away from the the game. The co-op aspects are – or rather – would have been a nice inclusion had online functionality been present. Despite many positives being outweighed, Family Guy is certainly entertaining and worth playing for fans of the show. It’s however by no means worth its full retail price, though rather the relative entertaining romp for a rental, fans of the show may well wish to add it to their collection; just do so by way of bargain bin. If you pay full price you might just get the whiff of something, that’ll be Peter’s fart in your face.
Score 6/10 – Review by Wayne Julian