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Family Guy Online: First Impressions review

10. May, 2012Tags: Family Guy Online, MMO Blog

Family Guy Online game reviewI remember - long, long ago – buying the third season of Family Guy on DVD. I also remember watching the original series on TV, but my enjoyment of the series started when I bought that DVD. It’s funnier than some people give it credit for and has only in recent years fell victim to endless self-references and misjudged timing. It remains funny, much funnier than some of the rubbish on TV, and is still worth watching. A game, on the other hand, might be ill-advised. The original game, for PS2, Xbox and handheld systems, was something of a disaster. The gameplay was average, the jokes were good and the replay ability was non-existent. So an MMO based in the world would have to rely on more than humour to pull itself through. Considering the developers have labelled their game as the first ever MMOLOL, it would seem, on early impressions, that they’ve not managed it. Has extended play changed my mind?

Family Guy First Impressions review

"Lucky, there’s a Family Guy"

Creating your character is easy and there’s actually a lot you can do to spruce them up. You choose from a member of the Griffin household and then edit based on their template. This means that you can almost instantly create a character that looks like it could have come directly from the show, the downside is that you end up seeing a lot of very similar looking people around. On top of that, limiting you to only the Griffin household means you see an awful lot of babies running around, as well as people roughly Peter’s size, meaning that variety in those around you is kept to a minimum. That said, it’s still very impressive, because you can edit facial features and clothing options quite comprehensively (with the opportunity to purchase more) so that you can create yourself, or some ghoulish approximation of yourself, within the Family Guy world.

Family Guy Online game review Family Guy Online review

Entering Quahog

I hope that Activision, who is releasing a Family Guy game at the end of the year, take note from the work put into the graphics and sound in Family Guy Online. There are moments where you look around you and it looks exactly like the 2D animation from the show; it’s only after moving that you notice that actually you’re in a 3D world. So well have they captured the style from the show that you can quite easily lose yourself in just exploring around the sites. Colours are vivid, locations well captured and characters instantly recognisable, never looking freakishly out of place (like several games in the Simpsons series are guilty of) or disproportionate to the world around them. Music is straight from the show in many cases and makes you feel right at home. In all, the developers have done a great job of getting the feel from the show perfect in the digital realm.

Family Guy Online review Family Guy Online review

Seen it before…

As we probably should have expected, Family Guy Online game isn’t made up of a huge amount of new material in terms of video and voice work. Adam West speaks constantly and, as always, is hilarious, but you’ll have probably seen many of the jokes before. Where the game shines is in its use of visual humour, specifically in terms of signs around town. Quest descriptions of occasionally funny, but tend to reference episodes of the show. Completing a quest rewards you with a video clip, stuff that you’ll generally have seen if you keep up with the show. Still it’s funny, even if it only lasts a couple of seconds, and the “Family Guy: Purchase on iTunes” logo is forgivable, if not slightly annoying. The whole game, after all, is an advertisement for the Family Guy brand, and they more than try to sell it to you.

Visiting the store

That’s not to say that the funding for this game was given on the basis that it would increase merchandise, iTunes and DVD sales. I still received a regular pop-up telling me I could visit the store to buy new items and, of course, items are offered for actual cash. Things on offer include unique clothing (although you also have the option of using what you win in-game) and consumables. You can also buy a “Brian” class, although you’ll have to shell out $10 if you want to play as a dog – I’ve yet to see anybody interested enough to do so. I suppose if you really want to extend your Family Guy Online experience, it’s nice to have options, but the developers will really need to bump value if they’re going to get money from the more common player.

Family Guy Online review

Questing, more questing

Like the majority of MMORPGs on the market, Family Guy Online game has you performing quests. You’ll come across famous characters from the show, be told to go and pick up random things (sometimes referencing episodes of the show) and then you’ll be rewarded with experience and items. Experiences lets you level up and complete harder tasks. These quests aren’t especially exciting but, on top of that, make you travel quite a bit, which manages to make it less interesting. The first time you’ll see new jokes or locations from the series, but subsequent visits lose any charm they might have had. It doesn’t help that the battle system is lacking, and that you sometimes have to click umpteen time to even cause minimal damage.

 

Glitches

But the problem may be in a certain amount thanks to lag. Let me say that it’s amazing that they’ve gotten such a great looking game working in a web browser and that a few graphical glitches and network issues aren’t enough to spoil being impressed. With that said, graphical glitches are numerous and it’s not unusual to come across a street full of characters outlines (as if they’re still loading) or to see other players walk through NPCs. It’s also not unusual to see other players jump from one location to another. Despite these occasional problems, mostly things which will no doubt be fixed for full release, the game loads rather quickly and I haven’t seen any issues involving actual assets from the game, just other characters.

Family Guy Online preview

Family Guy Online game review
Conclusion

Family Guy Online does a lot to set itself apart from the competition, but gameplay isn’t part of that. I’ve loved exploring the locations I’ve seen and I know there’s a lot more to come, but there are times when I ask myself “is it worth it?” Almost everything that you’ll experience has been done more than once before, and has been improved upon (with the exception of the in-browser content. Take THAT Ministry of War), but fans of the series will be happy to put up with repetitive and tired quests for the chance to be a part of Quahog history. I can’t help but think Family Guy Online game is going to be the best Family Guy game we’ll ever see and, honestly, that’s not too disappointing.

Final Score: 7/10

by Mat Growcott

What do you think?
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