Chasing Bertram – Stewie’s evil half-brother-from-a-parallel-universe – through a 3D-rendered Quahog makes for a jarring juxtaposition. Family Guy’s 2D cartoon and Back to the Multiverse’s 3D fundamentals clashing as familiar locations are rendered unfamiliar by the change of perspective.
Not so much an issue of itself perhaps, but that you’re stuck in an environment that frequently frustrates with its lack of interactivity is a further irritation that the game never really recovers from.
Of course it’s entertaining to see Peter, Lois, Meg, Chris and the rest of the cast in cameo appearances – my personal favourite, Quagmire, peering in through balcony windows at sorority girls providing an early highlight. This is however mitigated by the fact that long-time watchers familiar with every line of script may find themselves disappointed by the amount of reused material.
The recycling doesn’t stop there though; the gameplay also falling prey to being all too familiar, with third-person blasting being the order of the day. Indeed fighting through waves of drone-like enemies before confronting superhuman bosses makes for tepid gameplay which goes against the edgy humour of the show.
Switching between Brian and Stewie does provide welcome variety at least, with each have differing weapons, quips etc., but their dialogue (and that of NPCs) quickly becomes wearisome and overused. Just wait until you pick up your hundredth health pack before once more hearing Brian say ‘What a rush!’ like he’s just mainlined some fine Afghan opiate…
There’s no doubting that other moment are more entertaining; the usual Family Guy PC-brigade-baiting madness present and correct during such scenes as a fight to the death with a giant boss made out of stacked wheelchair users (topped by a vicious Joe) – but these are the exception rather the rule in a case of wasted opportunity.
Co-operative and competitive multiplayer modes built around the characters add a bit of longevity, and extra challenge levels, maps for the multiplayer, costumes and even several playable characters are unlocked through progression. However performing a number of tasks for the likes of geeky Mort perhaps isn’t the kind of thing you’d want to repeat over and over, so replay value is limited despite the extra modes.
Despite the gripes, if you go into Back to the Multiverse as a fan of the show, with reasonable expectations of a few mindlessly diverting hours of violence and bad taste then you’ll not be too disappointed. If you’re looking for a title with endless replay value and top quality gameplay however, it might be worth looking elsewhere.
By Sam Gill
Format: Xbox 360 (tested), PS3
Developer: Heavy Iron Studios