The Master Of Blasters
Static Shock

Mini-Review: Family Guy

Family GuyIt seems today that all you see are violence in movies and sex on TV... ah, you know the rest.  Following in the licensable footsteps of The Simpsons and Futurama comes the first major Family Guy video game for the Sony PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and Microsoft Xbox courtesy of 2K Games and High Voltage Software.  Set against the "PTV" episode of the television series, the game follows three seemingly separate plots: Stewie must track his half-brother Bertram and stop him from taking over the world, Brian must clear his name when he is accused of impregnating a prized racing dog named Seabreeze, and Peter takes on a mission to destroy TV's Mr. Belvedere once and for all.  It's all very random, but so is Family Guy itself.

It's difficult to pigeonhole Family Guy into a specific gaming genre, as it's made up of three distinct types of gameplay.  Stewie's levels are 3D platformer stages in which our anti-hero must follow Bertram's trail of terror through the Griffin home, the local hospital, and eventually into Peter's body, as Bertram's former lair resides is his father's left testicle.  There's plenty of jumping and shooting action as various authority figures try and put an end to Stewie's mission, and once inside Peter's body he'll have to face bacteria, the occasional virus, digestive acids, and even "sperm" (that is, small Stewie-like babies waiting for their chance to be born).  The object in each level is to destroy the enemies and progress to the door.  The doors lead to the next level, and so on.

Family Guy Brian, on the other hand, takes a page from Splinter Cell in a series of stealth levels.  Since Brian is wanted by the police, he has to lay low as he tries to find out who fathered Seabreeze's puppies.  As such players must steer Brian through prison, the police station, the TV station where the American version of Jolly Farm Revue is produced, and other such locations.  If anyone sees Brian he is caught and must run the gauntlet all over again.  Costumes and disguises help Brian avoid detection in some circumstances, but on the whole he's better off hiding in the shadows where nobody can see him.  The object in these levels is to collect any evidence (folders, cassettes, and so forth) and make it to the door without being caught.

Finally, Peter's levels are based around old fashioned arcade brawlers.  Taking a page from Final Fight, Peter must punch and kick every person he sees since, in his opinion, everybody in town is working for Mr. Belvedere.  Sometimes Peter is hit in the head by falling debris and hallucinates that he is other characters, and while these hallucinations do not change the gameplay, they do dress Peter in a familiar costume.  For instance, while on a rampage at Cheesie Charlie's pizza place Peter sees himself as Blaxpoitation star Rufus Griffin, an African-American version of Peter complete with large afro.  Peter's levels end once all of the people in the immediate area have been knocked out.

Family Guy's trademark random cutaways are present in the game as well, as from time to time the action will pause and the playable character will remark "This is the worst thing I've had to do since...", leading into a mini-game.  For instance, the "Playing Marco Polo with Helen Keller" gag from the TV series is included in one of these mini-games.  Pressing the X button causes Stewie to call out "Marco!", and of course the joke is that since Keller is deaf and blind, she does not answer back or pursue Stewie in any way.  Avoid steering Stewie into Keller for ten seconds to win the mini-game.  Other such little challenges are scattered through the game, and winning results in a small power-up reward.

Family Guy The storyline unfolds throughout the course of the game as players are shifted from one gameplay style to the next.  Most everything in the game from characters to settings to background gags to specific jokes are lifted right from the TV series.  At one point Brian dons a giant banana disguise and comments that it's "that time".  Stewie remarks that security in Peter's testicles has been improved since his previous visit in the "Emission Impossible" episode of the show.  The evil monkey in Chris's closet even puts in a cameo.

The jokes fly by at a rapid pace in places, and while the gameplay may be a little thin, it's the familiar Family Guy style and tone that make this game worth a fan's time.  Fans of the series will get more out of the experience, of course, and the Mature rating on the box is justified thanks to the gags regarding homosexuality, ejaculation, nude prison shower parties, and female anatomy.  Family Guy may be presented in a cel-shaded style, but this isn't a game for the kids.  However, the game is fairly short, making this one worthy of a rental instead of a purchase.