Sure, the kind of massively multi-player online game (MMO) that Family Guy Online turned out to be has been done before. But when is the last time you laughed out loud after completing a quest? While we're at it, when's the last time you completed a quest in an MMO with Adam West as your guide? If the sound of either tickles your fancy, then you'll probably want to check out Family Guy Online.
Published by Twentieth Century Fox and developed by Roadhouse Interactive through the Unity Player, Family Guy Online is essentially a digitized version of Quahog that players can romp around in with their friends. And based on a preview of the game provided to us recently, it's clear that while Family Guy Online is based in the browser, it offers more depth than one would expect from such a game. That said, the game also follows the trappings that come along with the "MMO" tag.
After players create their cel-shaded avatar based one of the show's main characters--Peter, Lois, Chris or Meg (the kids are roped into one choice) and Stewie--they're thrown directly in front of the Griffin house. Immediately afterward, players hear the droll tones of Adam West, or Mayor West as he's known in the hit cartoon. In fact, every character that players meet in Family Guy Online is either backed by original voice work or lines ripped from the show.
After Peter gives players their first quest, it's time to enter the Griffin abode, the first display of Roadhouse Interactive's commitment to the source material. The house is laid out almost exactly as you would imagine it down to every detail. This is thanks to who knows how many hours spent studying episode after episode of Family Guy and manually mapping out the several areas of Quahog, Roadhouse Interactive CCO Ian Verchere tells us.
As beautiful and accurate as the browser-based MMO is, the general flow of Family Guy Online boils down to what's been done before. Player receives quest from key character (written hilariously around what Verchere calls "game-able moments" from the show by two Family Guy writers), players complete quests and finally players return to whomever doled out the mission for XP and other rewards.
However, Verchere says this mode of play was chosen so that new MMO players or casual gamers could navigate the world more easily. "If want to call them quest-givers, well that's fine--that's something that a hardcore gamer might understand," Verchere says. "But to somebody who's just approaching the game or doesn't play more of the sword-and-sandal type, what you would traditionally associate with an MMO, for them to go out, do something and come back and gain experience makes a certain amount of sense."
Of course, there are always a few laughs to be had after turning in a quest, thanks to either original dialog or a video that plays, straight from the annals of Family Guy history. That said, even combat operates in much the same way as games like World of Warcraft (WoW), presenting players with an action bar that holds their many attacks and other abilities. Even the game's character classes fit into the usual MMO archetypes, for those familiar.
"You've got a case to be made for Peter as a tank and Stewie as a DPS [Ed. Note: damage per second] character with ranged attacks," Verchere admits. "Your average casual gamer doesn't need to know that, but it makes sense that putting something out there with these attributes that the Griffin family have would have some sort of basis in game mechanics."
Basically, what Verchere means is that Family Guy Online was designed to marry the play concepts with the brand as closely as possible every step of the way. So while the game is deliberately similar to hits like WoW, Roadhouse has also made strides to give Family Guy Online its own mark that no other game has.
Ultimately, that boils down to humor. Family Guy Online is downright hilarious, sometimes earning laughs as hard as the show. (In the future, we're told said laughs are to come from both the upcoming Family Guy season and even real-life current events.)
Of course, being a free-to-play game, Family Guy Online offers several types of skills and items for sale for real money in its in-game store, which Verchere tells us is designed to "reduce friction" and not unbalance the game. Family Guy Online is currently in open beta testing (in other words, "live"), so everyone can finally give Meg what for. And no, we don't need a reason.
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