Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse review
Hey you. Yeah, you. Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse hates you. It hates you for the things you do, for the way you act, and it hates you most of all for the way you’re born. It hates you if you’re a straight white man, sure, but it super-hates you if you’re not. You’re Jewish, you’re black, you’re gay, you’re Asian, you’re a woman? Then this game really hates you.
It tells you it hates you. In its sterile cartoon 3D platforming world, young women are ‘whores’, Jewish people are wealth-obsessed and cowardly, and perceived homosexuals are ‘gaybos’, simultaneously the worst thing you can be and the most hilarious. It’s all the political incorrectness of the TV show, with none of the humour that redeemed at least the first few series. Two men kissing! Can you imagine it? It hates you for imagining it.
It shows you it hates you. You play as once-psychotic, now fey baby Stewie, and voice-of-cloying-reason dog Brian, switching between them in third-person with a tap of E. They have different weapons but exactly the same skills. They skate across grass as they walk and float through the air as they jump. There’s no sense of tactility, no pleasure in the platforming. The enemies cursed to man the ten levels – the gaybos, the whores, the nerds, the cripples – sprint toward you with all the nous and subtlety of a weak Peter Griffin joke segue. Getting rid of them is simple: point-and-click on their bulbous heads with one of the game’s weak weapons.
It convinces you it hates you. Enemies respawn from doors and vans, and swarm you quickly. Getting hit prompts a few frames of animation that cancel whatever action you were performing at the time. The hitboxes are indistinct and the controls imprecise: you’ll die. When you do, you’ll be derided for your failure by your own character. There’s an achievement for killing yourself with your own grenade.
It confirms that it hates you. Quests are fetch quests, sneering, pointless busywork that send you to various corners of the boring levels. Any thrill of recognition from the increasingly terrible TV series is stripped out by the ‘multiverse’ setting. You won’t spend time in the Drunken Clam, you’ll spend time fighting chickens in space because both chickens and space were once referenced in Family Guy. You’ll try to beat a pirate Peter Griffin at sea because Peter Griffin once made a noise like a pirate in Family Guy.
It’s a lazy game, and it hates you. Some audio clips are fresh, written and performed for the game, others are culled from ten-year-old episodes and shunted into place to ignite a spark of recognition. That, at least, is authentic: references long ago replaced humour as Family Guy’s stock-in-trade.
Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse hates you. It’s poorly made, nasty, expensive and exploitative. I hate it right back.
Expect to pay: $49 / £30
Release: Out now
Developer: Heavy Iron
Multiplayer: Local only, four player split-screen
Did I mention that Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse crashed a few times? Those were my favourite bits.