Sunday, November 05, 2006

Family Guy: Video Game (Xbox) Review

The Family Guy: Video Game (Xbox) is just what you'd expect from a title based on a mature, animated sitcom: Simplistic, short-term entertainment.

First and foremost, it's going to be played by fans of the show, and rest assured that it captures the show's humour and style very well. The game features three main playable characters, Stewie, Peter, and Brian. Stewie is once again pitted against his half-brother Bertram and must thwart his plans for world domination. Peter gets hit on the head and believes that Mr. Belvedere has kidnapped his family and is plotting to kill him, so he goes around town killing and destroying anything in his path while searching for the '80's TV personality. As for Brian, he's been accused of once again impregnating Seabreeze and must clear his name by finding evidence to the contrary. In other words, it's all just a typical plot for Family Guy. Now if only the gameplay was more inspiring.

Generally speaking, Stewie's levels are fun. You basically move around shooting enemies (mostly Bertram's childhood minions) with your ray gun, and as the game progresses you can upgrade your gun with extra effects such as an area attack or homing missiles. Stewie can also float through the air for a bit with balloons, and use his grappling hook at pre-determined points to get a lift. There are a few annoying "slide" levels where Stewie glides real fast along the ground, and he's a bit hard to control here however they tend to be short and there's not many of them. Stewie also has a mind control device that he can use (in pre-placed situations) to have others move around and help him complete his objectives.

Peter's levels are very much like that classic Simpson's arcade game, where you move around in locations of the show and beat the snot out of anything in your past retro-style. While generally fun at first, I found that they got much to repetitive after doing them for the seventh time. While there are a variety of enemies to fight, they mostly all fight the same anyway. Peter does also have some mini-game's thrown in though, which mostly relies on button mashing or pressing several buttons in a certain sequence quickly, but they hardly liven things up enough.

Brian's levels are all stealth based, and while unique at first become very tedious and frustrating quickly. Basically, after the first few levels, you are not given a grace period if someone spots you. If you're seen you need to start the level all over again, and of course everyone and their uncle is looking for our K9 escaped fugitive. Brian can hide in shadows and in some levels wear disguises, however in the end his levels are just too dang frustrating to be of much fun.

The game also has a lot of cutaways like in the show, and their actually presented as mini-games. The only problem is that they tend to go so fast, you've already failed them before you've figured out what you're meant to do!

However at least it captures the humour of the show. Stewie jumps on pregnant women in a maternity ward and babies pop out, Death shows up with his dry-sarcastic whit, and Joe complains about tasteless wheelchair jokes in his over-the-top fashion. While sadly most of the gags are literal re-hashes from the show, they're still funny when placed in this different context. Oh, and it has Adam West, and we all love Adam West.

Graphically the game sports a cheap animated look that helps give it a cartoony feel (which is great), and the sound effects, voices, and music are all spot on from the show. Some lines are probably pulled right from the original audio source tracks of an episode, but whatever, it still works.

The final verdict? Family Guy: Video Game is an interesting enough, short-term romp through Quahog. It's not a long game, and the gameplay is rather bland and repetitive, so I'd say give it a rent before you buy.


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