Family Guy is a show that has always ploughed its own furrow of offensive humour, with a sly, knowing wink that it's cutting close to the bone, and screw you if you don't like it. Of course, there are a lot of people that don't like Family Guy, but probably a lot more that do. In our demo of the game, we can almost see why some people do find Family Guy somewhat offensive however, as where the show is for the most part smartly scripted and consistently funny, the game seems to walk a fine line between comedy and crass material that seems to be built purely with shock value in mind. No doubt die-hard Family Guy fans will beg to differ, of course.
Taking the series 8 episode 'Road to the Multiverse' as its cue, Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse takes you back through the alternate dimensions that Brian and Stewie travelled through in that very episode, except this time you're chasing Stewie's evil twin Bertram through a multiverse of his own creation. Bertram is out to kill Stewie and destroy Quahog, and you're out to prevent him from succeeding with his nefarious plans. Our first look at Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse sees Stewie and Brian in the 'Handicapable' city, and begins with a handicap bus screeching onto the street. Apparently, these handicapped folk have received far too much special treatment, rendering them arrogant and self-entitled. So your job is to shoot your way through them all.
In true Family Guy fashion, it takes an age for the wheelchair ramp to deploy from the bus, but like every other wheelchair-bound character, he receives the same fate. A blast from Stewie's ray gun or Brian's pistol, shotgun or machine gun, and the disabled antagonist is blown away in a bloody fashion. Tasteful? Not so much, but then the writers at Family Guy studio Fuzzy Door penned the game's script and jokes, so it's in keeping with the show's canon and vibe at least. At face value, Back to the Multiverse looks like a fairly generic third-person shooter that enables you to switch between Stewie or Brian on the fly in single-player, albeit with the Family Guy humour intact.
Drop-in/drop-out co-op with an adaptable difficulty level is also an option, which is always cool, and Stewie and Brian have their own weapon sets to exploit, although the two characters are essentially the same. Where Stewie has a golf club, grenade launcher, flamethrower and ray gun, Brian wields a whiskey bottle and a range of weapons that he can switch out at designated portals in the level. Both characters can also enter a sort of boosted rage state by swigging their favourite drinks, so Stewie enjoys a temporary sugar high with an orange soda, whereas Brian knocks back some Pawtucket Patriot ale to enter a crazed drunken haze.
Running around the level reveals a range of sight gags, like banners that read 'Crippled Pride' and a parking garage with all handicap spaces, but again it's the kind of knowingly un-PC comedy that's likely to appeal only to loyal Family Guy fans. Gameplay-wise Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse looks incredibly fast and frantic, with Stewie and Brian able to unleash gadgets as well as attacks, such as a wavy-armed inflatable man that serves as a distraction while you shoot the handicapped enemies out of their chairs. This being the Handicapable world, it's only a matter of time before Joe Swanson turns up, and in the demo, we get to see him form up into a towering robot comprised of wheelchairs called 'Crippletron'.
Stewie and Brian jump onto a pair of Howitzer cannons and start bombarding Crippletron with projectiles, as he hurls his own objects towards the duo. With the huge robot dispatched, the demo switches to the game's co-op challenge mode, which is a wave-based Horde-style game-type. The level we're shown reveals that you can pick from a range of Family Guy characters and a whole variety of outfits, so Lois in a bra and underwear teams up with Brian in a suit and tie to take on the Amish in a tourist village, while avoiding innocent civilians. Shooting through the Amish, there are plenty of one-liners from the original voice actors including the show's creator Seth MacFarlane lending his vocal talents to Brian, Peter et al.
Like the story-driven portion of the demo, the co-op challenge mode looks like it could prove to be a lot of fun and in keeping with the risque humour that's been the Family Guy trademark for over a decade. Fans will get a kick out of the character cameos in the game alongside Stewie and Brian as the main protagonists, and no doubt the jokes and madcap style of the game will delight in equal measure. That said, if you find the thought of Peter Griffin farting on Meg's head in the middle of the street while Brian and Stewie blow away handicapped bad guys repugnant, then chances are Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse might not be the game for you. If Family Guy and apparently by-the-numbers shooters are your thing though, Back to the Multiverse will almost certainly scratch that itch.
Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse will be doing all the things that make us laugh and cry when it launches on September 25th, 2012.