We’re lucky there’s a Family Guy. We’re not so lucky there’s a Family Guy game.
After putting the show on the chopping block and managing to sew its head back on for another run, Fox isn’t going to miss out cashing in on Family Guy a second time. As a Family Guy fan, it’s an enterprise I’d be happy to support if Fox could keep its mediocrity out of my funny.
The game is pure fan service. And on paper, it seems like a good enough idea: Guide Peter, Brian and Stewie through familiar locales in Quahog. Mix in equal parts hilarity, absurdity and obscenity. Slap an M rating on it all, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Unfortunately, it’s uninspired. Despite occasional high points, most of the jokes are stale and the game just isn’t much fun to play.
Family Guy follows the three characters through separate storylines. Peter, under the delusion that Mr. Belvedere has kidnapped the Griffins and is holding Quahog hostage, sets off to rescue his family and destroys a good portion of the town in the process.
Brian, meanwhile, has been accused of impregnating Mr. Pewterschmidt’s prized greyhound Seabreeze. Yes, again – the storyline is cribbed from the show. The culprit is not, but the whodunit’s far less amusing this time around.
Stewie’s storyline is also partially cribbed from the show, as he scours Quahog – and at one point, Peter’s left testicle – to eliminate Bertram, his future brother. The stories don’t interweave at all, and Peter’s – despite being new – is undeveloped and, sadly, not very funny.
The game play is different for each character, but imprecise controls and simple mechanics are common denominators. Peter’s levels play like a hollowed-out version of Double Dragon or Final Fight. Brian’s levels are a shoddy approximation of Sly Cooper- or Metal Gear Solid-style sneaking, while Stewie’s are standard action-platforming fare. The lackluster controls are nothing more than an annoyance most of the time, but in some of Brian’s levels they become a liability. Note to Fox and 2K Games: Replaying a level because a game is hard can be fun. Replaying a level a half dozen times because the controls don’t work is frustrating.
To the game’s credit, most of the new gags are funny, as well as obscene enough to warrant the M rating – but there just aren’t enough of them. There are minigames that involve making God and Jesus dance, and one in which Stewie plays a game of Marco Polo with Helen Keller. Late in the game, Peter gets into a hot dog-eating contest with Ghandi. But there are too many instances where the game copies the show, such as minigames about firetrucks hunting gazelle on the African plains or Stewie trying to buy a death ray at an auction. Even the last boss fight – Peter’s epic showdown with the chicken – is cribbed. Normally that’s spoiler material, but there’s nothing to spoil. It’s not new.
What’s more, the game’s longevity seems predicated on the fact that you’ll be redoing some of the levels multiple times. Difficulty is welcome, but that’s a bad standard to set when those replays are forced by shoddy controls. And after the game’s done, it’s done. No additional difficulty levels, no fun extras such as outtakes or exclusive material – no reason to ever pick it up again. All the minigames are unlocked, but each provides just a few seconds of button-mashing fun and quickly gets old.
For the hardcore Family Guy fan, it might be worth $30. For everyone else, it’s just another mediocre game that’s hardly worth the price of a rental or the 10 hours it’ll take to beat. Games are supposed to be fun to play, and Family Guy is supposed to be funny. This one is neither.