Family Guy: Back To The Drawing Board
By Gwendolyn L. Spelvin
The Family Guy franchise hasn’t had that much good luck on any gaming platform since they debuted the first entry on consoles back in 2006. Since then, each title has a different developer, different platform focus, and different genre style that parodies the show in the worst episodic way imaginable.
Thanks to console and mobile platform emulators plus Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse, the PC platform can now directly share in the mediocracy that previously was exclusive to consoles.
Let’s call a spade a spade. MacFarlane and company want to create a playable episodic facsimile of the show. And that would be absolutely fantastic, had the development not been plagued by PS One graphics, slow and detrimental play, and a hodgepodge mixture of freshly recorded dialogue on a shoestring budget combined with low resolution audio rips of older episodes from the show.
Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse was a sucked breath of fresh air in correcting the problems of all the previous entries, especially the dismal Family Guy: The Video Game. To its credit, control schematics were leaps and bounds better improvement for character functionality.
However, cell-shaded polygon graphics, better rendered animation, and yet another tie-in storyline were noticeably lacking from the update list. The dismissal of classic show segues did no favors on toleration completion, either.
Okay. The franchise is obviously mired into an identity crisis and needs therapy. Every entry by every new developer alternates the style. One minute it’s a 2.5D side scroller with the worst controller mechanics ever programmed in the industry. The next it’s a low brow Grand Theft Auto clone or a point and click Sim Tower time waster.
We get it. The franchise is so busy copying contemporaries out of its league that developers have abandoned building Family Guy its own unique gaming identity, non-show related storyline, battle system, personality, and all the other nuances that make titles memorable.
All players feel are developers avoiding having the franchise taken seriously and setting up its own section at the bottom of the bargain bin at every local discount store. After all, short games that take a generous max of eight hours to complete with horrible control schematics tend not to make it to the replay list.
MacFarlane and company can’t be this deaf and blind, unless this is intentional for the true show experience. From the very first entry players are well aware of the arrogant kiss off the franchise as they ignored the easily patched and correctable problems that were never tended to.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news for all these developers licensing the show, but no one likes a never-ending ending as a conclusion. Most players learned that from the Atari 2600 Snoopy and the Red Baron. Players hate clumsy controls that work when they want to, causing endless deaths. Polygon graphics and pretentious AI from the Gamecube era that barely functions aren’t exactly a stroll to nostalgia, either.
Every entry also has the tendency to steal from its own source material. And that would be cool, had they stolen enough to cover the gambit of runtime. Recycled, repetitive, stolen from the show gags, an apparent recreation of locations from Quahog seen on episodes that are supposed to pass for the multiverse, and a lack of an original story not borrowed from a previously released episode cripple the potential of every release.
When it comes down to mission objectives and enemies, both are an absolute boring pain in the ass. Not only do enemies all look alike, act alike, and respawn every fifteen seconds, so do reminder notifications as if you don’t know what the hell you’re supposed to be doing. This wouldn’t be so bad, had playable character dialogue reaction to this nonsense be so left field and un-synced that it adds to more confusion as you waddle along to the end.
Boss battles are laughable; once the pattern is studied, implementing it is a breeze, and rather juvenile. There is more challenge solving the back of Highlights For Children than going balls to the wall in a boss battle with the same quasi villains from the show. Even the epic Chicken Fight with Peter Griffin is dull and boring. What should be an epic fight, especially considering how the show tends to show the asinine comical nature of it, instead is a long, drawn out, overkill affair that never seems to end.
All of it has been overdone and over featured in all the entries now, even in Family Guy: A Quest For Stuff. And that is sad considering the money and attention behind the franchise.
Many fans of the show are still holding out for a great entry that corrects the problems of the past. It can’t be that hard to pick an appropriate engine that allows for updated non-polygon graphics. Even the latest South Park entry corrected that problem.
Until MacFarlane and development company can focus on making a great game versus more marketing for the film, they can keep resetting this franchise right back to the drawing board.