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Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse Review1
by Alex Navarro on
If you are a fundamentally terrible person on every imaginable level, then Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is the video game for you.
Great news, racists, misogynists, homophobes, and generally terrible people! After a year in which your kind spent much of its time being maligned by people with annoying traits like "sensitivity" and "empathy," you now have a video game with which to vent your frustrations toward people with handicaps, women, a wide variety of ethnicities, and homosexuals. Finally, right?
Sure, you get some of that stuff on the Family Guy TV series, but there, Seth MacFarlane's tendency toward offensive humor is too often slathered in that dicey concept known as "parody." Sometimes you just want to laugh at hateful words being used to demean others without all the bullshit, you know?
This is what makes Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse so perfect for the asshole on the go. If you simply don't have the time or mental capacity for "jokes" with "punchlines," then by all means, engage Back to the Multiverse for its liberal use of insults and offensive words for what I can only assume was a half-cocked attempt at shock value. Then again, shock value would also imply that you could actually be shocked by any of this stuff. If anything, the only shocking aspect of Back to the Multiverse is how haphazardly said offensive terms are doled out over the course of the game's brief adventure.
While there is a story in Back to the Multiverse--which features Family Guy stalwarts Stewie and Brian teaming up to save the world from a dimension-hopping villain baby--it largely plays second fiddle to the simple act of running around an environment filled with some minority or another, shooting everything in sight, while frequently repeating lines from the show.
Yes, there is a lot of recycled dialogue in Back to the Multiverse, most of it unremarkable, barely-remembered one-liners from its main characters. You can tell the difference between what's old and what's new by the fact that the old lines occasionally feel like they were part of a larger joke. The new dialogue doesn't even know what a larger joke is. If it takes more than ten seconds to set up, deliver, and forget about, Back to the Multiverse doesn't even bother.
With that said, I don't know that Back to the Multiverse was so much "written" as it was "hastily slapped together," but no matter, because the most important thing is that you're being horrible to those that are probably different from you. The game literally opens with a rapid-fire assault highlighting the grossness of Greek people and the sluttiness (and requisite daddy issues) of sorority chicks, and then dovetails into a lovely little level-length treatise on handicapped people and their terrifying sense of entitlement.
To be fair, not all of Back to the Multiverse is obsessed with calling things queer and the hilariously slutty antics of women. Later in the game, things move into more decidedly bizarre territory, featuring long stretches where you're killing Secret Service agents tasked with protecting Mayor McCheese, and space chickens that behave similarly to the Xenomorphs from Alien. So there's your referential humor, I guess, if that's what you're after.
Regardless of who you're killing for what reason, you will do it with haphazard shooting mechanics that qualify as functional, if utterly uninvolving. There's no real challenge to Back to the Multiverse. You'll die if you get shot up, but unless you've completely run out of the game's collectible currency, you'll always start right back where you got shot. Well, until the last few levels, which inexplicably have a tendency to start you way further back than seems reasonable. But otherwise, you're just running around, blasting wildly until everything's dead.
Keep in mind that Back to the Multiverse's gameplay design isn't really set up for anything more strategic than that. The mechanics function more like a lousy arena shooter than a typical third-person adventure, so there's a lot of running and shooting, and not much else. If we were talking about a game with a challenge level similar to, say, Serious Sam, that might have worked out better. But Back to the Multiverse isn't interested in challenging you so much as it is killing time until its next offensive one-liner.
This all makes a bit more sense when you try out Back to the Multiverse's barely existent multiplayer. Yes, there's two-player co-op in the campaign, but if your desire to force Back to the Multiverse on people requires more sacrifices, there are offline deathmatch and "capture the greased-up deaf guy" modes to play around with. Incidentally, all relevant humor in the "capture the greased-up deaf guy" mode can be found in the title "capture the greased-up deaf guy," so really, you don't even have to play it to get the joke.
If you're the sort of person who doesn't inherently find the concepts of greased-up deaf people, Amish people commenting on their sex lives, older women grotesquely demanding group sex from frat boys, people in wheelchairs falling over, or "the gays" completely hilarious, do not get angry at Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse. This is not a game that deserves your anger. If it in any way felt deliberate, focused, or frankly invested in its own sense of humor, then maybe it would be deserving of such ire. As it is, Back to the Multiverse is a game that those with any modicum of taste should simply forget ever happened. To attempt to highlight its existence beyond a mere blunt dismissal is to give it entirely too much credit. Which I suppose I just did. Crap.