Family Guy Video Game Review
By Vito Raliffe
- Just as funny as the show
- Same voice actors and writers from the show help bring the game to life
- Graphics are colorful and vibrant
- Many inside jokes and references fans will be able to appreciate
- A simple pick up and play experience
- Gameplay can become tedious and repetitive
- Game can be beaten in 6 hours or less
- No replay value whatsoever
- Not enough variety throughout. Once you played one mission for a character, you have pretty much played them all
- Controls could have been tightened a little bit for Peter
- Simple, arcade-like gameplay may put those off looking for a deeper experience
After having a hit TV show, a movie, books, comics, action figures, apparel, board games and even a Live in Las Vegas CD, the next logical medium for the Family Guy franchise to delve into was videogames, and that is exactly what Seth McFarlane and his crew have done. The game takes place in Quahog, Rhode Island as you play through the zany adventures of Stewie, Brian, and Peter. Each of the characters have their own unique story and style of gameplay, and the game will switch you between the characters through out to try and keep things fresh and not too repetitive. You begin the game as Stewie right when he discovers that his half-brother Bertram is back, and once again Stewie has to survive and compete with Bertram for world domination. Stewie’s style of gameplay focuses on action-shooting and platforming, and the first level sets the tone for how the rest of the game plays out as him. Your very first task is to collect 20 ray gun components to fix your weapon, which felt like a Rugrats game as I realized the simplicity in tasks this game was going to offer. To find the components was easy, as all I had to do was open up cabinets or jump on top of book shelves to find them. This was made even easier since the majority of the game moves similar to a 3-D side-scroller, as there is no 360 degree camera rotation, but only panning the camera a little bit to the left and right, making exploration extremely simple. Often progress in this game will mean making it to the right-side of the screen successfully, although this is not always the case.
After finding enough ray gun components and being given access to the first floor, you have your first opportunity to use Stewie’s infamous Mind Control Device. You need to go outside, but since Stewie is too small to open doors himself, you have to use the device to make one of the other characters do it for you. Whenever there is a context-sensitive action to be performed, Stewie will automatically switch to the appropriate device. To use the Mind Control, you have to aim at a character and hold the X button. This emits wave lengths that puts you in control of the other character. While in control of these characters, you are not able to perform any actions except moving around or using the Y button to activate objects, although you are also able to switch back to Stewie any time you wish. You will occasionally get to use the Mind Control Device at different points in the game to perform tasks impossible for baby Stewie. At one point, there is a button you need to reach, but there are four electric lasers in front of it, preventing easy access. You need a way to block these lasers, and lucky for you, there are also a few nurses in the vicinity. Seems like the perfect opportunity to bust out your Mind Control Device on them right? Wrong. The nurses are blonde, therefore they have no minds to control! Thankfully your sex-fiend neighbor Quagmire is around. Taking control of him, you use Quagmire to talk to each one of the nurses. Naturally, he uses lame and perverted pick-up lines, scaring them off, but he happens to scare them off in the direction of the lasers, soaking up the deadly electrical charges. Only three of the lasers are blocked though, leaving one in your way. Sadly for Quagmire, Stewie finds him expendable as you are forced to place him in the way of the charge to continue. This lets you reach the button and continue your way onto the next level, so not all is lost. This is just one example of how the game combines the show’s humor with the gameplay.
Back to the beginning of the game, once you use the Mind Control Device to go outside, the true action (and what you will be doing most of the game as Stewie) begins. Bertram sends his cronies after you, and you must destroy them all with your now working Ray Gun. Pressing X fires off lasers, which you have an infinite supply of. You can also hold the X button to charge it and launch off a more powerful blast. For the beginning enemies, one blast should take care of them, but as the game progresses, you will face off with enemies that can withstand far more damage. This is where upgrading your Ray Gun comes in. Just because you now have it fixed, does not mean you are done collecting components. Throughout all of Stewie’s levels, there will be ray gun components lying around just waiting to be picked up. You can collect up to 700 total, which each 100-mark giving you an upgrade. For example, when you collect 100 ray gun components, your shot simply becomes more powerful, but when you reach the later stages such as the 300-600‘s, you will be able to fire off grenades and even rockets at will. As you progress through the first level, you will probably notice that objects in the environment are destructible. Cars, trash cans, mail boxes and more can all be blown up, and on Stewie’s missions, doing so will provide you with Health pick-ups. The small yellow health kits will replenish your health just a little bit, while the big green ones will fill you up a lot more. If you are ever about to die, start blasting anything and everything and there is a good chance you can heal yourself, especially as enemies will also drop Health for you. After progressing to the right of the screen and taking out a bunch of enemies, you will come across a chance to use the grappling hook and play through your very first ‘Non-Sequitur‘ or “Cut Away” mini-game. Non-Sequiturs are gameplay sequences that completely remove you from the current situation into a mini-game of some sort. They are exactly like the scenes from the show when one of the characters say “This reminds me of that one time” or “This is worse than” and it cuts away to a previous and random event, basically what the show is most famous for. In the first Non-Sequitur for Stewie, you are a worker in control of a nail gun, and you are helping install sky hooks because an infant (Stewie) paid you $100 to do so. Another worker is standing on paint cans holding the sky hook up for you so you can nail it down, and once the mini-game starts, you automatically start firing off nails. You do not pass it unless you shoot the ring where the worker‘s hand is at, but it‘s a shame this ends up nailing the worker to the sky hook itself. Successfully completing a Non-Sequitur for Stewie gives you ray gun components to help upgrade your gun. Completing them for other characters gives you different bonuses, but more on that later.
Some of the Non-Sequiturs you play through are taken straight from the show. Such as one where you are having one of Stewie’s “sexy parties”, and he is in his usual sailor outfit chasing around young women in lingerie. The objective here is to chase around a star that is moving about on the floor, and once you finally catch it, everyone starts dancing, just like on the show. There is another one where you are playing ‘Marco Polo’ in the pool with Helen Keller. All you have to do is swim around and not touch her, and seeing as how she is blind and deaf, it shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, you could just not touch the controller at all and beat this mini-game. All of them are incredibly easy, and all of them will actually last less than 10 seconds. If you have not accomplished what you need to do by the time limit (some of them give you three seconds, others more) you fail, not getting any upgrades, and you only have one chance for success.
After completing the first Non-Sequitur, you get to use Stewie’s grappling hook for the first time. When you are near a sky hook, an icon will appear in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Pressing and holding B launches the hook onto the ring and pulls you up, so if you are stuck somewhere and a double-jump doesn’t do the trick, move about to see if the icon appears on your screen. After doing so and reaching the rooftops, you come across a large gap between the houses. This is the first time you are forced to use Stewie’s Balloon Float ability. Pressing A, and then pressing it again and holding it causes Stewie to float by the use of balloons tied around his waist. Just like in this situation, you will use this ability to cross large gaps or to float above dangerous terrain. Once you have reached this point in the game, you have pretty much experienced what most of the game is going to be like as Stewie. Sure, the environments change and you will encounter more dangerous enemies, but other than avoiding traps or destroying laser grids, there isn’t that much else you get to do. In fact, a large part of the game involves ricocheting lasers off walls to destroy these laser grids so you can continue safely without zapping yourself, causing instant death. It can get a little old, as you have to continuously fire off blasts while finding the perfect angle to blow up the grids, and it’s a situation you are constantly forced into that breaks apart the action and impedes your progress. There are other parts of the game where you get to slide across areas on your stomach like a sluggish baby torpedo, but that is it. Often at times the gameplay for Stewie felt just like Space Invaders, as the camera changes to behind Stewie as you strafe right and left, dodging lasers and taking out waves of enemies.
After completing Stewie’s second level, you get to play as Brian, whose gameplay is even simpler. The father of Lois, Mr. Pewterschmidt, has accused Brian of once again impregnating his prized racing dog, Seabreeze, thus violating his restraining order. Brian is thrown in jail, and it is up to you to find the evidence to prove him innocent. Brian’s gameplay is considerably more simple than Stewie’s or Peter’s because the only objectives you ever have are to not be seen and to collect evidence. The entire game as Brian is always about stealth. Get caught, and you automatically restart from the latest checkpoint, but those occur every time you enter a new room, so don‘t fret. Once again, the first level for Brian shows how the rest of the game plays out as him. Like the other characters, the first area acts a tutorial, and teaches you how to use shadows and timing to stay undetected. When you step into the shadows, the icon of Brian’s face in the top-left corner will turn green, informing you that you cannot be seen by anyone. Whenever possible, never stay out in the open, as characters rarely stay in one spot. Learning patterns is key, and just like in most stealth games, everyone has their own route they walk over and over, so staying hidden for a while and studying people’s patterns is vital to progressing through this game. You will probably have to restart areas frequently as Brian, as sometimes being caught is unavoidable while you are trying to discover patterns. But after a couple of tries, you should have that area mastered so you can easily breeze through it the next time around.
In the first level, you start out in front of prison cells, and you have to move past them into the shadows when the prisoners are distracted with something else. One prisoner will be digging a hole to escape, and every couple of seconds he will pop his head out and look around. When he goes back to digging, you run past his cell and into the dark. Then another prisoner will be on the toilet reading a newspaper, and he will look over it every couple of seconds also. Once he goes back to reading, you can run safely across into the shadows once again. Shortly, you reach the next room and find yourself in the showers, complete with naked men washing each other. This is when you get to play Brian’s first Non-Sequitur, which involves rapidly tapping two buttons over and over to bury a dirty film, starring Quagmire in “The Blair Fist Project”. After successfully completing it (and there is no reason you shouldn’t, unless you are playing with hooks for hands), you become temporarily invisible. This is true for completing all of Brian’s Non-Sequiturs, and is probably the most helpful bonus you get compared to the other characters. If you fail a Non-Sequitur for Stewie for example, you tend to not care as all you get are some ray gun components, which there are plenty of throughout his levels. But for Brian, if you fail you might be a little frustrated, as becoming invisible makes the progress through his somewhat tedious levels go far quicker. Keep in mind though that it is only temporarily, as you can easily put yourself in a bad position for when the effect wears off. Luckily if you ARE caught, you simply start at the beginning of the room, and you get to play through the Non-Sequitur again and earn the bonus. Remember that the button combinations may change on you though, such as instead of pressing B and A, you have to press B and Y. To see what lies ahead of you, you can scroll the camera a little bit with the right analog stick. This helps you look for patterns without leaving yourself dangerously out in the open. This is especially helpful in the next room you enter. In the previous room, the men stayed still while they bathed each other, but in this room, they decide to chase each other naked in circles. Here, you want to scroll the camera to the right to watch for when the men are coming without exposing yourself. It is actually fairly simple, as once they run past, all you have to do is follow behind them. It is in the next room where it might be a little tricky for players. In this shower area, the game decides to combine mobile characters and those that are stationary who look around every once in a while. This is the first time you encounter a situation like this, and it will be the one that occurs throughout the rest of the game. This is also the first time you really need to study the patterns of everyone.
The next room lets you collect your first piece of evidence, which is now an objective you will need to complete the rest of the game. Instead of trying to just make it safely to the other side of a room, you now need to locate and collect all pieces of evidence in a room while remaining undetected, and you will not be able to exit until every piece has been gathered. You start out with only needing to find one piece of evidence, while the more difficult levels will make you find five or more. To aid your quest, sometimes there will be objects you have to activate to grab the attention of the other characters so you can sneak past them. This will include activating sprinklers, starting fires, or switching security cameras onto the women’s shower rooms (complete with porn music). Later on in Brian’s missions, you will also have to don disguises during those moments when you have no choice but to be out in the open. Your first disguise, a lamp shade, lets you stand still out of the shadows, but if you are seen moving or are touched by anyone, your disguise is blown and it‘s game over. Cops may be dumb, but they sure as hell know lamps can’t walk. Other disguises let you move about with no problem, but the issue with Brian being a dog is that when he gets nervous, he has to pee. Whenever you are wearing one of these disguises, a Bone Meter appears in the top-left corner of the screen. If you are in someone’s eyesight for too long and the bar fills up, Brian will rush to the nearest plant and urinate. This removes the disguise until Brian is done relieving himself, so you better hope no one sees you! These disguises are a welcome addition to the gameplay as Brian’s missions are rarely that different from each other.
After completing Brian’s mission and switching back to Stewie for a little while, you finally get to play as Peter himself. Peter has been hit in the head with his PTV satellite dish after it falls off the roof, and after being knocked unconscious and waking up in the hospital, he has a crazy notion that Mr. Belvedere (as in Lynn Belvedere, the butler from the 80’s sitcom Mr. Belvedere) has kidnapped his family. Unlike the stealth of Brian’s missions or the platforming elements of Stewie’s, Peter’s missions are all about kicking ass, pure and simple. Everyone is your enemy, be it old ladies, dogs, or even children. No one is too old or too small for your fury. Peter believes everyone to be working for Mr. Belvedere, so ask yourself, how far would you go to save your family? Would you drop a bunch of children into a pit of hungry snakes so you can use their skeletons as a bridge to cross safely to the other side? Peter would, and eventually, you will too. Anyone who is into basic beat-em-ups, and still enjoys arcade games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Captain America and the Avengers, can appreciate the old school simplicity of Peter’s adventure. You have a few different attacks, fight swarms of enemies, pick up objects and use them as weapons, gain power-ups to unleash special attacks, and even have a big green arrow telling you to “Go” to the next screen once you have defeated all of the necessary enemies. Feel nostalgic yet? If you are not into beat-em-ups at all and find them to become quickly repetitive, then playing as Peter will bore you in no time. If you can appreciate the basic gameplay and used to spend dozens of quarters a day at your local arcade or laundry mat on these types of games, then you will probably enjoy playing as Peter quite a bit, even if it just to remind you of the “good ‘ole days“.
Just like with the other characters, the first level for Peter basically shows you what you will be doing throughout the entire game, over and over and over. After taking out your first few “enemies” (old ladies and children) you will notice they drop food (along with the occasional health kit). You may also notice that when you continue to pick up this food, it fills up a little meter placed under your health bar. This is your Snack Meter. When this meter is full enough, you are able to unleash special attacks upon your enemies, dealing far more damage than any normal attack can. As you progress through the game, your Snack Meter increases in size, allowing you to gather more food and utilize your special attacks more often, and trust me, they become vital in the later levels. It is also wise to destroy anything and everything possible in the environments, as they too will drop food or health kits. Peter’s normal attacks consist of the usual punches and kicks, and you can also pull off basic combos when combining different moves. If you are near objects like trash cans or sign posts, you can pick them up and throw them at enemies. You can also pick up unconscious enemies and throw them too, which is something I highly recommend as it is the quickest and easiest way of dispatching multiple foes without draining your Snack Meter. Now unlike a lot of beat-em-ups, you are not able to just mash one button over and over and successfully complete the game. The game forces you to use all of the moves possible, as some enemies cannot be harmed by certain attacks. Some characters can only be hurt by punches, while others by kicks, and some of the more difficult characters can only be hurt by specific combos. You will know when a character is not taking damage as they flash blue when your attacks are ineffective. Regardless of who they are though, your special attacks will always inflict pain upon them. When you weaken the stronger characters to near-death, you have to play through a mini-game similar to those from God of War or Peter Jackson‘s King Kong, where you press the corresponding buttons on-screen to perform a final finishing move. One example is having to mash the X button repeatedly to raise an enemy into the air, and then pressing the B button to body slam them. In fact, you can tell Peter Jackson’s King Kong was an inspiration, as Peter thumps his chest and roars just like the giant ape himself the first time you do it.
When you reach the end of the beginning level, you will come across your first Non-Sequitur for Peter, which involves punching a giant tuna can open (your guess is as good as mine). After successful completion, you will be rewarded with hot dogs that fill up your Snack Meter. While completing Peter’s Non-Sequiturs are not as vital as it is for Brian, the extra food can help as the special attacks can really save your life when surrounded with tons of enemies. To help players cope with the repetitiveness of the levels, throughout the game Peter will continue to get hit on the head, causing him to take on various alter egos seen on the show. While the gameplay concepts are the same, Peter’s lines and even attacks will change based on the character he transforms into. So anyone who enjoyed Peter’s jive talkin’ black cousin Rufus Griffin or think Prostitute Peter is a funny concept, will probably enjoy these little transformations. They add more humor into the game, which is pretty important since it is the game’s driving force.
Now that we have gone over the gameplay, it is now time to talk about everything else that makes a videogame whole. The controls are pretty solid the majority of the time. With Stewie’s platforming elements, it was especially important to make sure the controls were tight and responded well to the player’s actions. Platforming is pretty basic and easy, and avoiding traps and such is never an issue. As mentioned before, there are sequences where Stewie has to slide across areas on his belly like a sluggish baby torpedo, and sluggish being the key word. This was done intentionally to make it more difficult for players, but when obstacles are placed in your way and you are moving the analog stick to avoid them and yet you don’t, it can be a little frustrating. The controls for Brian are extremely simple, so no problems there. With Peter, they usually respond well to your actions, although combos can be a hassle to pull off at times. If you press the buttons too fast, Peter will only execute a couple of the moves, failing the combo and leaving you open to attacks. It will be important to adjust to the speed at which you are allowed to press the combo buttons and have them execute properly. This should have been tweaked though, as the game should respond to how quickly the player can do it instead of being unresponsive.
The camera is always fixed, and the max amount of freedom you have is to scroll it a little bit to the left and right. You will not have to worry about the camera getting stuck in walls or not rotating properly, as the majority of the game plays as a 3D side-scroller, or with an overhead view similar to the Metal Gear Solid series. The graphics are just as colorful and vibrant as the show, although the animation isn’t as sharp. This is to be expected with the transition from 2D to 3D, but the facial animations are blocky and do not change as smoothly as they could have. The environments are detailed and familiar, as you get to visit places like The Griffin Home, the hospital, the docks, Peter’s body, the casino, and more. There could have been more variety in character models though.. Throughout your adventures, you will see the same character model extremely frequently. The game is filled with generic clones, and I am not talking about the actual parts where you fight clones, but the other characters in general. This might have been done as there are guest appearances from the supporting cast, and having too many different character models could have confused people, but a little more variety would have been nice. Other than that, the game does a fantastic job of capturing the feel of the show.
The audio is this game‘s outstanding achievement though. All of the actors and actresses reprise their roles, bringing the same quality and humor we have come to expect from the cartoon. It feels like Family Guy from the very beginning, sucking faithful fans into the universe we have all come to know and love. The game’s menu even opens up with the familiar tune that also opens up the show (minus the singing and being a little more laid-back), and the game continues to play quirky tunes throughout that we would expect to hear on the cartoon itself. The sound effects are good too, whether it is the blast of Stewie’s ray gun, or the old-school smacks that Peter’s punches and kicks make. Overall, you should only bother with this game if you are the game’s target audience, i.e. a faithful fan of the TV series. This game is an extremely simple arcade-like experience, and it’s humor is it’s only saving grace. Without that, there would be no point in anyone ever playing this game. The gameplay can be fun, although at times a little tedious. Near the ending levels, I would keep wishing that I would come up to the end already and yet be disappointed with another repetitive experience as Stewie trying to destroy more laser grids. Owning the entire series, I picked up all of the little references and jokes throughout, making the game more fun. There will be a lot of lines or dialogue taken straight from the show, although out of its original context, which might make some like the game better, or others wish the writers spent more time coming up with new material. The transition between normal gameplay and the Non-Sequiturs is seamless, only helping to enthrall the player into the experience. There are a couple of other mini-games aside from the Non-Sequiturs, but they are too few and far in between and rely on your memory. One of them consists of serving hot dogs to customers in the order that they called out to you, and if you try and serve the wrong person in the wrong order, you fail and have to start over. It was an enjoyable change of pace, and I only wish sequences like these came more often.
The game isn’t that difficult, but some parts can be challenging. Brian’s missions are usually trial and error as you try to master people’s patterns, and you may find yourself overwhelmed with enemies as Stewie and Peter, but after a few tries you should get through it okay. You will also be given hints via spoken dialogue by Stewie and Brian if you take too long trying to figure out what to do next. This game has absolutely no replay value. In fact, I had to play through some of it again for the purpose of this review, and I did not enjoy a moment of it. There are no difficulty settings, and while you can replay the Non-Sequiturs once you have completed them, there is no reason to as they are all incredibly brief and easy. The game is short, and while I do not know my exact play time, I would say around six hours total. I really enjoyed the ending though. It was completely unexpected and let me play one of my very favorite sequences from the show. Vito Raliffe’s Verdict - 6.2 / 10. The game is worth a play-through if you absolutely love the show and it will be an enjoyable experience if you do, but beat it under a rent, as the game is far too short with no replay value to warrant a buy. If you aren’t a fan of the show, stay far away from this game.
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