|Family Guy (2006)
Publisher: Take 2
Available for: PlayStation 2, Xbox
Let me get this out of the way first: I love “Family Guy.” I’ve never liked “The Simpsons.” I really like “Futurama.” I love “Family Guy.” Say what you will, chop me down at the knees for it, but I make no apologies. It’s pointless to sit here and write out why I love the show and dislike “The Simpsons.” It’s a pissing match that you can check out for yourself at multiple places online. When “Family Guy” was resurrected, I felt a sincere joy that I hadn’t felt since “Mystery Science Theater 3000” was rescued – only to be killed again, but still, there were some great seasons in there before it did. So yea, I love “Family Guy.”
This game stinks, however.
What is it about cartoons getting turned into video games that make them the most likely candidates for sucky games? You’d think that there’d be so much to work with that making a game after a cartoon would be a no-brainer. But game developers always manage to make beloved cartoon characters completely one-dimensional and boring and “Family Guy” is no exception. It doesn’t matter that it “stars” Seth MacFarlane and the rest of the show’s crew. It doesn’t matter that the box claims it’s “Too Hot for TV!” and that there are “x” amount of “outrageous” scenarios. The point is that “Family Guy” has been reduced to a subpar game that not even its own patented jokes and humor can save.
The game revolves around Stewie, Brian, and Peter Griffin. Stewie is out to destroy his brother Bertram and must do so by miniaturizing himself and going into Peter’s scrotum to take Bertram out at core, so to speak. Players get to work through the platforming Stewie segments, firing and upgrading his laser gun, using his mind control helmet and jumping around, grabbing objects, breaking things, and the usual platform-style of nonsense. It gets repetitive and predictable fast and just isn’t a whole lot of fun overall after an initial play through of one of these stages.
Brian’s portions are all stealth. He gets to sneak past jail cells in the shadows and make his way through a maze of desks at the police station while trying to gather evidence folders. It’s not a hard task at all, but is prone to easy slip ups which of course will send the player back to the beginning to work through it all once again. There are also encounters in the jail’s showers with lots of predictable gay jokes – and again – not much fun. Patterns are easy to figure out and the AI is one of those that is on a predetermined track, so no real skill is involved.
That leaves Peter. His bits find him trying to destroy Mr. Belvedere. That’s amusing in typical “Family Guy” fashion, but the gaming is anything but. Peter’s portions of the game are nothing but a “Double Dragon” clone with Mr. Griffin walking down the street and kicking ass by either punching, kicking, or throwing items and getting the occasional food power-up. It’s mind numbing zombie-trance button mashing gaming that was never fun to begin with, so of course it should be resurrected and used in a new game lest we all forget how truly dull street brawling games were.
“Family Guy” the game is of course littered with non sequitur side moments, just like the show. These involve playing mini games for various purposes. None of them are hard, but they are a welcome break from the three main styles of games offered here. There are plenty of patented naughty bits, some of which are genuinely funny, others not so much. It’s as if the guys at High Voltage Software had barely seen the show and didn’t know what kind of game to make, so they got lazy and just crafted some crap out of yesterday’s leftovers.
In addition to that, the game models look chunky and washed out. The same thing happened with “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.” This is puzzling in both cases, since the characters from both shows should be a walk in the park for programmers to duplicate effortlessly. But one look at Peter, Stewie, and Brian here and you get the feeling that you’re playing with poor clones and not the real thing. It gives the game an even bigger feel of being a rush job.
It’s sad to see that this is the case with games like these being released for the PS2 and original Xbox. They’re still powerful enough systems more than capable of being able to crank out games that are 100 times tougher on their processors than games like “Family Guy.” These titles feel like nothing more than secondary thoughts rush-released to get a few more dollars in for the aging systems before the lights are finally turned off for good. Gamers and fans of the show deserve better. Some fans will find a little to laugh at and enjoy here, but in the end, “Family Guy” is worth only a rental. One of these days, someone will finally get it right.