It seems today that all you see is games based on television shows and movies that are so gimmicky. I hold a general wariness for games based on TV shows -- as we all should, natch.
This E3 has already challenged that stance with the announcement of the upcoming South Park: The Stick of Truth, and with Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse, I may have to permanently retire that preconceived notion.
Starring Brian and Stewie, Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is fairly entertaining despite its rather basic premise. The level objectives aren't wildly inventive, but then, that's not really why most fans will be playing. The most delightful aspect of the game is how well it incorporates the vast world of Family Guy canon -- it's enough to keep things interesting.
While Seth McFarlane's involvement seems to be limited to final approval over the finished product, two Family Guy writers were behind the game's story, based on episode one of season eight, "Road to the Multiverse." While this game doesn't pick up where the episode left off, it continues to explore alternate realities, with Stewie's half brother Bertram as the antagonist. There are ten levels in total, each with their own theme, from the Amish to a frat house to ... maybe pirates?
Actually playing the levels mostly involves going from point A to point B, doing puzzles, collecting items, and shooting things, but the simplicity seems to lend itself well to including all of the references. I'm not even the most diehard Family Guy fan, but I still recognized much of the in-jokes and references scattered throughout the levels, and even shrieked when Stewie busted out Ernie the Giant Chicken and launched him as a weapon.
You can play as the main campaign alone, or using split-screen co-op. There's a competitive multiplayer mode for up to four players, which also happens to be split screen. Activision is staying mum on the details of the modes for now so the demo merely glossed over them. Both melee and ranged attacks will be available, with a blue bar indicating the strength of your melee attack in the upper left of the screen, while ammo and health are distributed on a pick-up basis.
Some of the collectable items can be used to outfit Stewie with better weapons through the armory, and the weaponry even reflects Family Guy canon: for instance, Stewie can use a golf club or shoot off dirty diaper grenades. Some melee items can also be taken from the environment.
I enjoyed the demo very much, but for some, the gameplay may be too simple and repetitive to be entertaining. The one level I saw was fun, but even with the promise of more content, it feels more like a $40 title than a $60 one. Nonetheless, it's at least worth a look when Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse releases for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 25, 2012.