Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Family Guy
(2K Games & High Voltage for Xbox)

Instead of shoving a popular series into a pre-defined genre, Family Guy: The Video Game from High Voltage Software and 2K Games puts the bizarre sensibilities of the cartoon series front and center. The storyline centers on Peter's quest to find Mr. Belvedere and the many odd things that happen in between. The main game is loads of fun with challenging levels, though the really interesting part of Family Guy is the absurd mini-games that are challenging and hilarious. It's use of cel-shaded animation and the real voice actors adds to the authenticity, making this a faithful adaptation that successfully translates the series to gaming.

It would be easy to pre-judge Family Guy as yet another licensed tie-in, cashing in on the popularity of a hit television series, but the developers at High Voltage have gone the extra mile to create a game that captures the attitude of the series perfectly. The game basic storyline follows the typically absurd narrative of a typical episode, where the main plot plays second fiddle to the many in-jokes, bizarre twists and hilarious non-sequitors that fans have come to grow and love over the years. Family Guy takes players on a massive adventure where they control three main characters as they search throughout the town of Quahog for the elusive Mr. Belvedere.

Each of the main characters (Peter, Stewie and Brian) brings a different sets of skills and abilities to the game. Playing as Peter or Stewie offers some fairly traditional gaming action, with standard platforming and adventure sequences broken up by mini-games. However, when you take over the role of Brian, the action switches to a humorous stealth mode, where you have to sneak around without being detected. In addition to these main characters, players will encounter other Family Guy characters and guest stars throughout, including appearances from Adam West, Angry Monkey, Quagmire and other FG favorites. The game's plot is fairly dense, but the gameplay itself is simple and straightforward, which allows you to enjoy the jokes without having to struggle too much with the controller.

The levels themselves offer plenty of variety with combat, puzzle and action mixed together to create a game that never feels predictable or stale. Family Guy's progression is fairly linear, though some areas are more challenging than others, and you need different skills to progress. Each level is broken up into several smaller areas and there are frequent save points, which makes the game easier to play. Each area of the game isn't that large, so you won't have to spend a lot of time backtracking. The main quest is fairly simple with some areas requiring you to beat all the enemies, while others are basically hunt and gather modes. There are also more complex and challenging sections in Family Guy where you have to evade capture, shoot Stewie's ray gun around corners and chase nurses around. These different objectives make things interesting. The gameplay shows a lot of creativity, and the level of attention really shows in the way the game integrates its mechanics to the plot.

All of this unfolds with the trademark Family Guy sense of humor very much intact. The game has numerous jokes and comedic asides, some of which can be quite funny. Like the television show, the action is frequently broken up by mini-games, which are usually riffs on episodes of the series, which should please fans. While these are fun to play, some of these mini-games are harder than you'd expect them to be, which actually makes them challenging to play. Family Guy isn't the hardest game you'll ever play, but it offers a decent amount of fun, and some of the areas are unexpectedly funny, such as jumping on pregnant women to make babies fly out, using them as projectiles. This seems bizarre and is probably in bad taste, but works humorously in context of the game.

Family Guy's cel-shaded visuals are excellent and this approach works perfectly in recreating the feel of the series. What's really cool about this is that it gives you a level of interaction you could never have with the television show. The game lets you to walk through many of the famous locations (like the Griffith house) in full 3D. The character animations and overall look of the game feels very much like the television series, with the same color-palettes and look that you'd expect. The overall production values are excellent, and the game's presentation and feel does an excellent job of bringing the series to the interactive realm. An interesting storyline and plot is brought to life using the original voice actors, which makes a huge difference. There are many cut-scenes and cinematics throughout the game, and these are high-quality and elaborate, and make you feel like you're watching an episode of the series, not playing a game.

This release does an excellent job in recreating the feel and attitude of the series. It's not watered down, and some sequences feel a bit more adult and extreme than they would on TV, which makes the game feel less compromised than it could otherwise. Most licensed games fall into the trap of trying to shoehorn their source material into unoriginal genres while ignoring the elements that made the license successful in the first place. The developers have taken the time, in this case, to make sure that the elements that made Family Guy so popular are very much in evidence. Overall, Family Guy: The Video Game is a solidly entertaining title that should please the television show's fans.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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