Not always lucky there’s a Family Guy

It’s never easy to capture the essence of a licensed product in a videogame. Sure, games like Batman: Arkham City show it can be done, but for every gem, you get South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge, X-Men: Destiny, a half-dozen Simpsons titles (excluding Hit and Run), and the worst of them all, Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis (just beating out the equally awful Superman 64). So, when it came time for Family Guy to take another crack at a video game, six years after their first failure on the last console generation, it was hard not to think “Here we go again.”

Inspired by the Season 8 episode “Road to the Multiverse,” Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse centers around the machinations of an alternate universe incarnation of Bertram, Stewie’s evil half-brother who was destroyed in the main Family Guy universe episode “The Big Bang Theory.” This version of Bertram has built his own multiverse remote control and vowed revenge on Stewie for killing him in any universe. Knowing that their own vast multiverse experience makes them the only ones capable of putting a stop to the plan, the show’s beloved odd couple, Stewie and Brian, embark on a quest across 10 parallel dimensions to stop Bertram from putting together an unstoppable army that will squash the Griffin family once and for all.

As a fan of the show, I admit the premise sounded promising. When you consider that the plot was written by the Fuzzy Door writing staff and that everyone from the cartoon reprised their voice for the game, the story side of Back to the Multiverse didn’t worry me one bit. And it did, indeed, deliver in most instances, as there were many moments during the game’s cutscenes where I found myself laughing out loud as Brian and Stewie found themselves in a Pirate World, an Amish World, a world ruled by handicapped people, and much more.

Unfortunately, when it came to being a fleshed-out game, I found Back to the Multiverse lacking. The third-person shooter gameplay quickly became tedious as wave after wave of cookie-cutter enemies swarmed me in each level, yet still provided almost no challenge. Surprisingly, the handful of platforming obstacles in several levels—along with one very special level with Peter—provided some enjoyable variety to the grind of shooting everything in sight, but these brief departures from the blasting bonanza were too few and far between to save the game from becoming repetitive, dull, and simple.

The game is also extremely short and linear, and in order to try to cram in a couple extra hours of playtime, each level is littered with pointless item collection side quests that reward players with nothing but concept art and multiplayer skins. Somewhere between collecting my 10th wanted poster in the Amish world and my 7th handicap placard in the “Handicapable” level, I was already done with the hoarding.

And speaking of the multiplayer, what were developers Heavy Iron thinking by not making the co-op or versus modes online capable? The multiplayer suite here is impressive, with challenges, Deathmatch and CTF, a horde mode, and campaign co-op. Though far from revolutionary, Multiverse definitely has the potential to stand up to many other titles out there, but since all the modes are restricted to local play, they quickly lose their luster. The multiplayer levels, especially in Team Deathmatch, seem better designed for larger groups of players with their scope and size. With only up to four people locally, everyone is constantly wandering around, desperate for someone to shoot. I appreciate local play as an option, but it just doesn’t work well as the only option, not in this day and age.

In the end, this game is like many of those other licensed products that have come before it. There’s a very solid core here, with the visuals and the humorous writing capturing the animated heart of the show. If the fat from the single player had been cut out so there was only maybe only five or six more polished and varied levels, I could see this being a great downloadable or budget title in the $20-30 price range. For a full $60 though, Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is far too flawed to be worth it for all but the most passionate (and delusional) of Family Guy fans, as this falls into place with the rest of the long list of other mediocre adapted media property video games out there.

SUMMARY: A solid comedic core cannot save what becomes tedious gameplay as you move through the 10 different dimensions of the Multiverse. Throw in the mind-boggling lack of online multiplayer for a suite that clearly could have benefited from it, and Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse should only appeal to fanatics of the FOX animated sitcom.

  • THE GOOD: Much of the game captures the humor of the show.
  • THE BAD: No online multiplayer, tedious side quests.
  • THE UGLY: Amish women. What? It’s not like they’re going to read this on the Internet or something.

SCORE: 5.5

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.