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Gaming Review

'Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse' review (Xbox 360): Shameful

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Released on Tuesday, Nov 27 2012

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse - screenshots

© Activision


Release Date: November 23 (Europe), November 20 (North America)
Platforms available on: Xbox 360, PC, PS3
Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
Publisher: Activision/20th Century Fox
Genre: Shooter/action

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse really should never have been made. It's not just a horrible experience as a game - it's pointless and offensive. And it's a real shame that time and effort has been put into something that serves neither gamers nor fans of the show.

Animated US comedy Family Guy is always going to divide opinion. Many people dislike the humour and accuse the show of being base, infantile and even offensive - a crude man's The Simpsons. But equally, there are others who enjoy Seth MacFarlane's long-running creation.

After all, the show has won three Primetime Emmy awards in the past and come back from the dead after being canned by Fox. Your reviewer is partial to watching Family Guy, but less so after playing the shameless, unfunny and uninspired Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse.

'Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse' screenshot

© Activision



Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is a third-person shooter, but don't expect Gears of War here. Over this short campaign, you will take on the likes of Ernie the Giant Chicken, 'crippletron' Joe and Long John Peter, but also battle weak controls, guns that feel about as powerful as a pea shooter and some very weak jokes.

The game takes its inspiration from 'Road to the Multiverse', the episode from series eight in which Stewie and Brian travel to alternate versions of Quahog, where things have gone seriously skew-wiff. But it also borrows from the 'Big Bang Theory' episode, involving Stewie's evil half-brother Bertram attempting to take over the world.

Over the series of levels, you can switch between Stewie and Brian - the baby and dog from the show - on the fly as you blast a range of enemies with guns, bombs and more outlandish weapons. Each multiverse, such as an alternate world where everyone is their evil twin, or one where the handicapped have taken charge, ends with a boss battle as you pursue the scheming Bertram.

'Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse' screenshot

© Activision



For one, Stewie and Brian in Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse just don't look right as 3D models. It's like going back to the early days of the show, when the animators had not quite nailed the appearance of each character, meaning they just seem a bit wonky compared to the modern incarnations.

But the cartoony graphics are at least passable and the addition of all the voice talents from the show is certainly welcome. Seth MacFarlane and the writing team have also apparently lent their talents to the script, but you wouldn't necessarily know it; the game is devoid of the show's sharp observations and occasional belly laughs, and instead throws up jokes that appear to have been taken from the off-cuts bin.

Despite the odd amusing fourth-wall breaking line here and there - such as Stewie noting after completing a level - "I can't take all the credit; there's some loser moving their thumbs and pushing buttons" - if you had concerns over Family Guy's humour about sexuality, race, disability or anything else risqué, then the game is not going to assuage that feeling.

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse - screenshots

© Activision



And actually playing it shows that game design runs out of ideas as quickly as it does gags. The levels soon dive head first into the same old design no-nos; respawning enemies; mind-numbing fetch quests and endless repetition. The controls are terrible, the guns are unsatisfying to shoot and the whole 'multiverses' concept never feels fully explored.

If you can stomach burning Amish famers with a flame thrower, or shotgunning the handicapped, then the fast-and-loose gameplay is somewhat bearable. There are also loads of collectables and challenges throughout the various 'multiverses', enabling you to unlock new costumes and items for Stewie and Brian.

There's also a multiplayer component, but it's local-only and appears to have been created purely so that 'multiplayer' could be added to the back of the box.

Therein lies the rub with Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse. To release this sorry state of a game as a boxed product is at best misguided, and at worst just simply exploitative.

There is surely scope to make a decent Family Guy game - just imagine an adventure or puzzle title littered with acerbic humour and smart observations. But as a shooter, Back to the Multiverse is a hopelessly moronic, completely pointless experience that will please neither Family Guy fans nor people who enjoy games. In this case, the joke is most definitely on us.



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