Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse – Controversial & Rude, But Funny?
“Any of you boys ever finish on a c-section scar before?” Take some time to drink that in. This is a quote from Lois Griffin, mother of three. In the opening chapter of Back To The Multiverse, the conically nosed redhead is spotted grinding on the roof of a family sedan spouting filth just like this. And that’s not the worst of it. Brian melees frat girls with broken whiskey bottles, Stewie plugs Amish hordes and wheelchair users with his ray gun and you kill Santa. Dead.
Seth MacFarlane’s animated sitcom is at its funniest when the offending material teeters along a mild plateau spiking infrequently for bursts of aggression. Think Brian’s bloody beating at the hands of Stewie when the toddler demands his money back or Stewie carjacking someone at gunpoint. Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse is littered a little too liberally with the show’s most excessive jokes.
Die-hard fans need not fear. There are some laugh-out-loud-funny moments but these are restricted to original dialogue recorded especially for the game. Incredibly there was a point during development when Heavy Iron Studios considered producing Back to the Multiverse using only voice talent lifted directly from the show.
For example, at the beginning of the second level, Something’s Amish, the infant is heard saying: “Smells like sweat and anger and shame.” The inclusion of this line and others is very tenuous indeed and will leave you trying to pinpoint its origin rather than enjoying the game. These moments of awkward cut and paste scripting burden Stewie and Brian’s co-op adventure with long lulls in hilarity.
‘Whose leg do you have to hump to get…’ Is Family Guy still funny? We can’t tell anymore.
At two hundred and seventy words you might be thinking; “Why the flip has this guy spent half his word count talking about the in-game funnies?” Unless you’re one of the 5% buying the game because you thought the studio behind UFC Personal Trainer, SpongeBob’s Truth or Square and several Disney tie-ins would make a game worth buying, we figured the Family Guy link would be the number one USP. No? OK.
It takes a lot to get past the weirdly 3D-ified Family Guy world. Cutscenes flow at a laboured pace but in third-person the models and animations loosen up and begin to feel like MacFarlane himself has breathed life into proceedings. As the four preview levels unravel it becomes clear this trip through time is an exercise in object retrieval and boss bashing. Stewie is on a mission to destroy Bertram, his evil twin brother, before his ginger nemesis visits the Griffin household in every universe and kills the family’s youngest child.
Rounded edges of the each world hide a flat mission structure. Shooting the disabled population of Rhode Island in the face is novel but the basic mechanics feel sluggish. Snap-aiming, borrowed from Activision’s other shooter, will be your best friend amidst the mayhem as you take aim at scores of foes who, in any other situation, would be rather pleasant people.
Nods to the cartoon keep you moving on. The ruthless resentment of Meg, the climaxing dairy cow, greased-up deaf guy’s slippery escapes, the giant fighting chicken power-up, all drag the show’s wit into the game. Different weapons demand different strategies and add welcome layers to a game that otherwise feels undemanding.
An in-game economy allows you to purchase weapons and iconic clothing like Brian’s Sinatra-inspired tux. Like Borderlands the co-operative campaign mode really makes Back To The Multiverse feel like a proper experience. If the four-player split-screen isn’t up there with GoldenEye, taking down Joe Swanson’s Crippletron with a friend will be.
Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse won’t push the boundaries in terms of gameplay, but it will have you giggling like a child who knows they’re watching something they shouldn’t. Whether the recycled humour will be enough to keep fans coming back is a question we’ll have to wait to be answered.