Perfectly set within the universe of the show, Family Guy – The Video Game handles the license properly. What it doesn't do is make a half decent game around it. Three different styles of play are present, none of them more enjoyable than the other.
With three different gameplay styles come three different controllable characters and three different storylines. With resources spread throughout each game engine, it's hardly a surprise that each fails in the gameplay department. Failure may not even be the right word. It's not harsh enough.
Stewie Griffin starts the game off collecting random items to power up his laser gun. Things stop and drop to a crawl as he must solve basic puzzles to advance that are either illogical or an insult to the gamer’s intelligence. Gunplay is erratic, with a lousy lock-on system and controls too tightly programmed making manual aiming nearly impossible.
Peter is plopped into a generic beat-em-up, eerily reminiscent of the classic Simpsons Arcade Game. As with Stewie's portion, this also suffers from dreadful controls. All three games take place from a horizontal viewpoint, occasionally switching when needed. In the case of Peter's, it causes problems when it comes to judging depth. Punches have no impact between them, and with the stilted animation, there's little indication you've been successful unless they disappear when defeated.
The family dog, Brian, is the final entrant. Stuck inside the most archaic stealth engine ever seen, this mess doesn't even follow its own rules. You'll need to stay away from the peering eyes of cops and jail inmates while collecting evidence to prove your innocence in a case you've been falsely accused of. The AI doesn't react properly, and there are times when you can actually touch one of the foes and they'll continue on their way. Other times, they can spot you across the room.
To keep the tone of the show, non-sequiturs tell random, incoherent stories in the form of mini-games. Generally simple button mashing affairs, they're unlockable for brief play from the main menu. In the game, they pop up randomly in the middle of an action sequence or tense stand off. If you die, not only are you tossed back to the last checkpoint, all cinematics must be viewed again and mini-games replayed.
The saving grace is the humor quotient. While some voice works become gratingly repetitive, the quotes that solidly earn this one an M rating are enough to keep Family Guy fans glued to the controller. Even the menus cycle through animations that are worth waiting for.
Sadly, that's not enough of a reason to deal with the simplistic gameplay. It's an obvious attempt to parody some classic retro titles, yet fails to be anywhere near as advanced as the games it's mimicking. Family Guy is inappropriate for all ages, and it has nothing to do with the rated content.
Family Guy – The Video Game is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Mature Humor, Partial Nudity, Violence. This game can also be found on: PSP, Xbox.