Lets just get this out of the way, I’m really not a big fan of Family Guy. I tried to watch it a few years back, but found it could barely raise a smile on my face, let alone make me laugh out loud. Then again, I think I somehow managed to watch the same episode two or three times, so that won’t have helped.
What I’m trying to say is that I went into this game thinking that perhaps I wasn’t the best person to sit down and play a few levels of it for a preview. As it turns out, I actually quite enjoyed it.
The plot is fairly simple, in that Bertram is back from an alternate dimension in the multiverse, as a follow on to the cartoon’s episode a few years back. Being Stewie’s nemesis, he plans to raise an army from across the multiverse to get revenge on Stewie for killing him before. Luckily Stewie still has his own multiverse remote, so he and Brian set off from one dimension to another in order to foil Bertram’s plans.[drop]
One of the first things that grabbed me was the art style. It’s very faithful to the source and I found it particularly reminiscent of Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People. Quite often it manages to look almost exactly like shots from the TV show, but there are also occasions where you really notice that it’s not 1080p and doesn’t have Anti-Aliasing applied to all the edges. I think you could safely blame that on the old console hardware.
So the first stop is a world run by fraternities, where Stewie and Brian have to do favours for the geek fraternity to set up a kicking party with music, booze and girls in exchange for getting their multiverse remote fixed. It’s a self-knowing and fairly basic set of fetch quests in a nicely open level, which sees you take part in a bunch of running battles with groups from rival fraternities, and quite nicely eases you into the game mechanics.
There’s a lot of this in the game, and it’s basically very, very shooty, so the weaponry needs to be right. Initially Stewie has a little plasma gun, whilst Brian has a more conventional pistol, and in single player you can switch between these two characters at will. Before long you’re unlocking shotguns, sniper rifles, flame throwers, used nappy grenades and acid gloop guns, and by the end of the game you’ll have a huge arsenal of crazy weaponry.
On the other side of things you’ll also have a variety of enemies with loads of different kinds of weapons coming at you. These are always themed to the universe you’re visiting, and in true Family Guy style nothing is really off limits – there’s a world where the disabled came to rule through too much preferential treatment. Prepare yourself to go up against enemies who use AK-47s as crutches, or ram you with their wheel chairs, and suicide bombing elves.
Each level is then capped off with a pretty big boss battle. I don’t think I need to explain any further than to say that one is Joe Swanson atop a giant living construct known as the “Crippletron”, revisiting the joke from the show.[drop2]
A big part of the charm for all of the Family Guy fans out there will be seeing how all of the characters from the TV show re-appear in these various alternate universes. From Meg having no limbs to Lois being utterly sex crazed in the frat world there’s a lot of jokes to be made via the settings. This extends all the way down to the supporting characters too, with Quagmire and Mayor West cropping up, and Death making several appearances, as well as a whole host of little side-jokes and gags everywhere you look within the levels. Some of the one liners even had me chuckling.
I think my only real worry is with longevity. I noticed that there was a little bit of dialogue repetition creeping in at times, and this was on top of a fair bit of grinding through all those gun battles. Several large areas of the few levels I played were based around what seemed like endlessly spawning enemies until you manage to complete some form of objective, like switching off alarms. It can get pretty tricky if you’re backed into a corner, though the entire story mode can be played in co-op, which should lighten the load a little.
Speaking of co-op, there’s a gem hidden away in the multiplayer section. It’s quite an oddity these days, but the multiplayer is an offline, splitscreen only affair. Up to 4 players face off in 2v2 games of Deathmatch, Capture the Greased Up Deaf Guy (CTF) and Multiverse Madness (Objectives), where you can pick from a selection of the expanded cast, each with slightly different weaponry to start with and unlock.
That’s all well and good, but I think the real highlight will be Infiltration’s four-player co-op arenas. It drops you into any of the 10 arenas and throws waves of enemies taken from across the game at you, but it’s fun and really rather challenging. If one of you dies, there’s no reviving and the rest of you have to soldier on, trying to get to the end of the wave, so your friends can respawn.
Even so, four of us sat down and, with a little player rotation as necessary, kept battling through each round for almost a full hour! It still seems odd that there’s no online play, but nothing beats sitting down with friends for some splitscreen.
For Family Guy fans, there’s a quite a bit on offer here. The crazy plot, lots of inappropriate humour, and some good on-the-couch multiplayer. That’s really where the game seems to have been aimed at, and I think how it should be played, because on your own there’s nobody else to laugh with.