Review: Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. [Five Minutes Later] Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee. Oww. Hee.
Somewhere, the developers of all of the subpar Simpsons games from the late 90s and early 2000s are smiling. Somewhere, the guys that made that craptastic South Park first person shooter are having a toast. Somewhere, fans of the underrated Futurama game cheer. What are all these people thinking about? The Family Guy game is finally here and... let's just say gamers will treat it much like the Griffins treat Meg.
Like the television show, the Family Guy game is broken up into several subplots that create the need for three playable characters. The main plot reveals around Stewie fighting his evil (evil is a relative term) half-brother Bertram for control of the world. Meanwhile, Peter hits his head and believes that Mr. Belvedere is also trying to take over the world. Finally, in a plot recycled from the TV show, Brian has to escape prison and determine who's really the father of Seabreeze's puppies.
Each of these characters plays through their part of the adventure in a familar video game style. Stewie grabs his ray gun and takes on Bertram in a third-person (and at times, on rails) shooter. After his head injury, Peter believes everyone
is one of Mr. Belvedere's henchmen. So he takes to the streets in a side-scrolling beat 'em up. And Brian does his best Sam Fisher in a stealth game-inspired jaunt through Quahog.
It all starts innocently enough. Stewie's shooter sections are amusing run and gun levels that feature plenty of the tyrannical tot's witty remarks and twisted humor. But it all starts to go downhill with Peter's ridiculous beat 'em up stages. Like the chicken fight and Peter's busted knee, his stages are one joke that go on for way too long. But instead of coming back around to the funny again, they just keep getting more and more annoying. Peter has two basic attacks, a punch and a kick, and several special moves that feed off of his "Snack Meter." Defeated enemies will drop snacks, but defeating them will require specific attacks for specific enemies. For example, old people require a quick punch to the face but children can only be defeated by kicking them. It all sounds very strategic, but when surrounded by various types of enemies it just becomes a button mash that makes you absorb hits from the mob, resulting in a lot of death. Combined with Peter's slow speed, it quickly becomes frustrating and more than a little boring. And after playing these frustrating levels, you'll want to hurl your anger skyward at the deity that is forcing you to undertake these trials to save a world that isn't even in peril.
But the worst may be Brian's stealth missions. Trying not to be seen requires a fair bit of trial-and-error. Often, the only discernible answer is to just sprint for the exit and hope a glitch (of which there are many) prevents an enemy from seeing you. Otherwise you're forced to fight through a maze of enemies that can spot the sophisticated pooch through walls and around corners. While other times he can stand right next to a gang of enemies and be unseen. It's all very boring and makes these sections of the game seem to drag out.
While each section is less than exhilarating, they all have their redeeming features. Stewie's shooting sections are actually fun and feature enough light platforming to stay interesting. And Peter's sections can be very funny, especially when his imagination gets the best of him and he turns into the jive talking Rufus Griffin or goes undercover as a hooker. In fact, the whole game has a lot of that fun Family Guy feel. The jokes work and with the cooperation of the main cast, they work well.
And in an ironic twist of fate, Peter's sections feel very similar to Konami's classic Simpsons side-scroller from so many years ago. Of course, The Simpsons side-scroller was an arcade classic. Family Guy... is not.
As for Brian... well, the later levels are packed with a lot of hiding places and fewer enemies, so they're mercifully easier and shorter than the early levels.
The game looks just an episode of Family Guy, with a similar 2D animation style and lots of recognizable locales and characters. And as I said before, the voice acting is very well done. But the constant death forces the game to repeat many voice samples over and over again, which caused me to constantly reach for the mute button.
The developers even try to recreate Family Guy's famous cutaways with mixed results. The cutaways take the form of WarioWare-like microgames that last 10-30 seconds with minimal instructions. If victory is yours you'll be rewarded with a ray gun upgrade for Stewie, snacks for Peter or invisibility for Brian (which is practically required to complete some stages). Some are humorous, but most are throwaway gameplay/jokes that are just dumb.