I've enjoyed it since 1999, and after The Simpsons, it's the TV show that I love most. I love Seth MacFarlane's gags, often criticized for their random humour, but I find them to be simply brilliant.
Therefore, when I heard that Family Guy was to become a video game, I greeted the news with a mixture of joy and worry. On the one hand, it's nice to play in the company of my favorite characters in a known universe and with the original voices. On the other hand, however, it's worth considering the theory that (almost) every tie-in is a piece of crap.
At Gamescom 2012, I had the opportunity to try Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse, and I can already say that the game does't insult the series from which it's drawn. Instead, developers must have watched many episodes, since the entire game makes use of themes, gags and recurring characters from throughout the series.
The game's title refers to the first episode of the eighth season, entitled "Road to the Multiverse", where Stewie invents a multi-dimensional remote controller and begins a bizarre journey along with Brian. This trip brings the duo to visit various parallel universes, including the Disney universe (with a famous sequence in which Peter sings the Emmy-winner song "It's a wonderful day for pie"), the live-action universe, the Japanese universe and even a universe in which all the world has to poop at the same time.
This particular episode has inspired a video game in which the player visits a variety of environments, while remaining within the stylistic features of Family Guy. Our journey at Gamescom begins in the so-called "Handicapped World", a universe in which all its inhabitants are handicapped.
Right now, you understand how the developers have not curbed the politically incorrect nature of the series: after a few seconds, in fact, Brian and Stewie were waging a battle with all sorts of "differently abled people". One of the mini-bosses of the game has arrived with a big van, with much emphasis. The problem is that, since he was a quadriplegic, we had to wait about a minute before the van extended a platform that would allow him to exit the vehicle with his wheelchair. This is an example of a classic Family Guy gag, in which the viewer is forced to look at something long and repetitive. It reminded me a lot of the famous episode where Peter falls and massages his knee for about thirty seconds. I was laughing with tears in my eyes.
Obviously, in the "Handicapped World" everything is designed for the handicapped. Every car park is reserved for disabled people, the city's mayor is Joe Swanson and on the walls there are advertisements for proctologists and adult diapers. The final boss is none other than the giant robot entirely made of wheelchairs (the CrippleTron), a creature we saw in the episode "No Meals on Wheels" in the fifth season. In short, the game seems to be full of references and citations from the series, the kind of fan-service that will be much appreciated by all the fans of the series.
The graphics engine seems to do a great job in order to recreate the universe of the Griffin family in a 3D environment. Graphically, it reminded me of The Simpsons Game: not perfect, but still appreciable. Bear in mind, also, the extraordinary work done by the original voice actors from the series.
With eight different universes (no Disney universe, sadly) and 10 levels, the game should include a great variety of environments. Unfortunately, in the few minutes that I had been given I found rather repetitive gameplay, despite the huge variety of weapons and a fun co-op mode for two players. In practice, I did nothing but shoot for ten minutes. The developers assure that there will be some puzzle-solving sequences and that most of the fun will emerge from exploring every environment and trying to find the numerous references and citations hidden in each level.
It is clear that this game is for those who know the series very well. Apparently, only true fans will be able to fully appreciate Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse. For the moment, therefore, it's better to keep cautiously optimistic.
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