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Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse PS3 Review

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Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse

Image © Activision
Why do I keep suffering through bad movie and TV tie-in video games? Why do I think every time that maybe this loathsome subgenre will offer something worth playing? Over and over again, video games based on TV shows and films, especially ones aimed at kids, disappoint with their complete lack of creative energy, feeling more like something that should be given away in a McDonald's Happy Meal than sold for full price in a video game store. And yet I keep getting excited when new ones are announced. I think it's presumed creativity by association. Well, "The Lord of the Rings" movies are great, so the games must be too. I find "The Simpsons" hysterical, so I'll laugh at a game. "LOST" is my favorite show, its game tie-in will surely be my favorite game. With the show being so undeniably brilliant, "Game of Thrones" has to be a great game, right? As anyone who has suffered through these titles knows, it's not the case. Which leads me to "Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse," a game I was excited for back in September when it was initially supposed to be released. I should have known better.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • Pros: References to Jokes That Used to be Funny
  • Cons: Little New That Works, Awful Gameplay, Dull Level Design

In season eight of the FOX animated series "Family Guy," the writers crafted a clever episode that allowed them to play with various alternate universes in which well-known characters could be slightly tweaked as Brian and Stewie adventured through what-if versions of the Griffin clan. It's the perfect basis for a "Family Guy" video game because it allows video game developers the same degree of freedom. Take the characters and do whatever you want with them in the "Multiverse" version of "Family Guy." The sad thing is just how little was done.

Gameplay

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse

Image © Activision

The first thing one notices about "Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse" is that it's downright hideous. The cut scenes should look as good as the show, right? Why wouldn't they? Then why do they look pixelated like someone is streaming the program on a first-gen iPhone through 3G? And if the cut scenes here aren't off-putting enough, the level designs are so poorly produced that they're baffling. The game was clearly delayed from its original release date a few times. They should have delayed it again because it looks practically incomplete at times.

It's essentially a third-person shooter that can be played alone or co-op. You can swap in and out as Brian and Stewie as they venture across ten levels inspired by the episode. Very loosely inspired. In the first level, you're wandering through a college campus, shooting at jocks that are trying to kill you on a series of fetch quests like finding a keg tap for your party or planting varsity jackets to frame the bad guys. It's so numbingly repetitive and dull that even the occassional flash of wit by the writers doesn't register. Yes, there's a clever line or two here and there but most of the voice work and recognizable bits are just lifted wholesale from the show. Hey, there's Peter farting on Meg. I've seen that. It was kinda funny the first time but why is it in a video game?

Every gameplay element of "Back to the Multiverse" feels incomplete. The camera sticks in weird angles, weapons are hard to aim or deploy, enemy A.I. is non-existent, and so on and so on. If you told me that "Back to the Multiverse" was a PS2 game that was downloadable for ten bucks on the PSN, I would still tell you to save your money.

Graphics & Sound

I can't stress enough how hideious this game ended up -- to a degree that it never should have been released to the public. If they had just put scenes from the show as cut scenes, it would have looked better. And the level design with its flat buildings and indistinct characters is horrendous. It's almost as if the designers were going for a last-gen nostalgic look but, honestly, most of "Midway Arcade Origins" looks better.

Overall

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse

Image © Activision
Clearly, I hate "Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse." And before you argue that it's a game made for fans of the show, you should know that I've seen every episode. Maybe I'm too big a fan and this is the kind of title that would work better for someone who has never seen "Family Guy." However, then they'd wonder why anyone watches the adventures of the Griffin family in the first place.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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