Activision and developer Heavy Iron Studios are taking funny business very seriously with its new Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse game, based on the hit Fox TV show. The game makers are working directly with writers from the show’s production company, Fuzzy Door, as well as creator Seth McFarlane and the rest of the voice cast. A first look at the third-person action game revealed just how funny – in a politically incorrect style, of course – gaming can be.
Fans of the show will remember the innovative Season 8 episode that this game spins off from, in which Stewie builds a multidimensional portal device that allowed him and Brian to go into parallel universes. Along the way the unlikely duo stumble through a Flintstones-like world, a slightly racist Disney universe, and even a Robot Chicken-verse.
“In Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse, players are going to be jumping into the multiverse to try and take down Bertram, who has found out a way to create his own multiverse device and is jumping into all these parallel universes, amassing his own armies to kill Stewie,” said Alex Knight, associate producer on the game at Activision. “Stewie and Brian find this out and are not going to have any of it, so they’re jumping in to all of our alternate universes to take down Bertram and his armies.”
For those not familiar with the show’s past, Bertram is Stewie’s half-brother and rival. This story line allows the game developers to explore episodes from throughout the show’s history and will feature several series familiars as Stewie and Brian jump through episodic missions in parallel universes.
Two such episodes were highlighted in the Gamescom 2012 demo. The first game level shown, “Handicappable,” was inspired by the Season 5 episode, “No Meals on Wheels.”
“That’s a universe where the handicapped people and cripples have been having a little too much special treatment, so they’ve kicked out all the two-legged walking people, put them into isolation, and rule that entire universe now,” said Knight.
As in this level and all the others, gamers can play as either Stewie or Brian. Stewie utilizes his science fiction weapons, which includes some sophisticated laser pistols. He also chugs orange soda to give himself a sugar rush for extra abilities. Brian, on the other hand, utilizes more traditional weapons. He has access to machines guns and pistols, and his melee weapon is a broken whiskey bottle.
“As fans are going to recognize from the TV episode, Joe Swanson formed up a large Transformer-like character that was comprised of people in wheelchairs called Crippletron,” said Knight. “It looks fantastic. It’s one of our bosses, and it’s just a blast to go after him.”
Outside of the aforementioned towering handicapped Transformer, enemies in this level speed to the scene in handicapped vans, only to wait for the ramp to be slowly lowered before they can wheel after Brian and Stewie. The show’s humor is spread throughout every inch of the level, including posters in the hospital from Dr. Hartman. Lady Liberty now sits in a bronze wheelchair with her mouth open and head to the side. Nothing is off-limits, just like in the show, which Fox canceled twice before it catapulted to the top of the ratings.
The other game level shown is set in the Amish universe, which is taken from the “Amish Guy” episode, the seventh episode of the 10th season. The serene countryside setting is splattered with blood as Brian and Stewie attempt to kill all the Amish people before they kill them. But there’s a practical reason for this bloodshed.“The great thing about this brand is that if Family Guy pushes the boundaries, we get to push the boundaries,” said Knight. “That’s the great thing about having the two writers from the show crafting our content; it’s as far as Family Guy goes, and it’s mimicked right in our game.”
“Amish people have all things needing wood, so Bertram has convinced them to go after Stewie and Brian in exchange for special wood pills,” explained Knight. “That’s something that not everybody knows about, but the Amish really have all things wood. They want to create everything based out of wood, so that’s a real incentive for them to go after Stewie and Brian.”
The game is filled with challenge modes. One of these modes in the Amish world challenges players to kill all the Amish people, while refraining from hitting any tourists. Knight said the fiction behind that is the Amish are sick of having tourists around them. They just want to live their lives, so Brian and Stewie are a threat.
While there’s plenty of humor from the show’s long lineage, the new game isn’t going to make fun of video games, per se. In fact, people interested in that take can play the free Family Guy Online game, which does reference games — and gamers — directly. Knight does believe gamers will find “a lot of odes to video game references, just not necessarily to that extent that one might think.”
These two levels, which were shown in small segments, are just part of the overall scope of the fall release.
“It’s a huge game,” said Knight. “Right now it’s probably eight hours just in the story alone. Then you’re going to have a lot of challenge missions, as well as four-player and co-op local play that will introduce some very interesting death matches. And there are game modes that we haven’t announced yet that I think fans are really going to love.”
Basically, if you like Family Guy, and judging from the ratings there still are a lot of fans out there, this game will serve up the same type of humor, only with an interactive twist. And if you just can’t wait to get your game on, Family Guy Online is a fun, free alternative available now.