Review by horror_spooky
Will the world ever get a good Family Guy game?
I've been on a Family Guy kick as of late, watching marathons episodes of the TV show, and picking up Family Guy games on the cheap. Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is the second Family Guy game I've played, after the PS2 entry from 2006, and it is just as bad as that game. Will the world ever get a good Family Guy game? Probably not.
Back to the Multiverse shares many things in common with the PS2 game, simply known as Family. They have the same art style that takes the 2D world of Family Guy and awkwardly tries to make it 3D. Back to the Multiverse actually looks worse than the PS2 game in a number of areas, with lazier cel shading, poor textures, objects on characters moving through their bodies, annoying stuff like that. The animation is considerably better at least, and there is plenty more going on at any given time. Unfortunately, the game does stop every once in a while for an awkward, interrupting loading section.
The storyline is also very similar to the PS2 game. Both games involve Stewie as the primary protagonist, with his enemy Bertram as the main antagonist. This time they are bouncing between different dimensions using the Multiverse remote, with Bertram attempting to build an army and Stewie and Brian attempting to stop him.
This setup has potential for a lot of interesting locales. To the credit of the developers, they do take the characters to some interesting places that you definitely won't find in other video games. Some of the early levels are good examples of this, such as a universe in which Amish culture is the dominant one, and a universe where college frats control the world.
The level variety isn't the problem, but rather, the gameplay variety is a major issue and the downfall of this game. I was actually really enjoying myself for the first couple of levels. It's fun to see recognizable Family Guy characters out and about as well as finding the various Easter eggs hidden around the levels as well. However, every single level has an extremely basic formula of just shoot everything in sight.
This wears thin rather quickly. The game is a third-person shooter with virtually zero variety in gameplay. There's some poorly designed platforming thrown in at times, but that's it. Co-op alleviates the boredom somewhat, but not significantly enough to make a difference. This is tolerable for the first couple of levels, but after that it is just so boring that the game becomes mind numbingly repetitive.
Each level is somewhat open, encouraging exploration to find the hidden collectibles and sight gags. This is actually in contrast to the PS2 game, as that one was far more linear. I appreciated the open levels, but they are too small and confined by the poorly written plot that connects them together.
One of the main goals of the game is to collect cash to purchase new content. You can purchase new weapons for Stewie and Brian as well as new costumes. The problem is that a lot of this content is locked behind annoying requirements that will make you play the game a lot more than you would want to in any given life time.
Besides the pretty awful story mode, there is also a terribly archaic multiplayer mode. The multiplayer is designed with a very ancient philosophy, to the point that GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 actually exceeds it in value and content.
You know, I spend a lot of time in many of my reviews of games with multiplayer championing for the continued inclusion of offline multiplayer options. It is rare that I have to actually complain that offline multiplayer is the ONLY option, but such is the case with Back to the Multiverse. I just can't understand how developers can sit down and decide to release an Xbox 360 game in 2012 with no online multiplayer. It is absolutely ludicrous. I appreciate that they have four-player split-screen in the game, I really do, but no online multiplayer is just a hilarious decision. Furthermore, the multiplayer game modes are nothing to get excited about either, especially since it ONLY supports local multiplayer. The maps are designed pretty poorly as well.
The game also features a challenge mode that is literally impossible to complete solo. Of course, it only allows co-op through local means, so you need to have a buddy present if you want to stand any chance in hell at completing the challenges. Good luck convincing anybody to suffer through this nightmare of a game with you, though.
Family Guy is a comedy, and while it has been heavily criticized, the show does have a tendency to garner genuine laugh out loud moments. Back to the Multiverse has a few moments that will make you grin or chuckle, but don't expect any of the belly laughs that the TV show is capable of producing. Many of the jokes consist of poorly written and outright stupid dialogue that is repeated ad nauseam. The game also completely ignores the trademark cutaway gags that defines the series, for better or worse.
Achievement hunters may want to look into Back to the Multiverse, though. The game has quite the easy achievement list. To unlock everything in the game, you pretty much just have to farm the multiplayer achievements, beat challenge mode, beat the story, and get all of the collectibles. You can earn almost every single achievement in the game in just a few hours. I don't like achievements that require ridiculously hard or lengthy tasks, but I also don't like achievements that can all be earned in no time at all. Achievements are meant to boost replayability of a game, and Back to the Multiverse really doesn't have any added replayability from its achievements, which is unfortunate.
Back to the Multiverse is one of the most repetitive games that I've ever played. It will give you a couple of laughs and if you are into achievements, you will have plenty of those by the time you're done, but otherwise it is just another bad Family Guy video game that should be ignored by anyone looking for a quality gaming experience.
Product Release: Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse (US, 11/20/12)
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