You know, it seems today that all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV. But, where are those good old family values that we used to rely on? Beats me, but it’s certainly not in Seth McFarlane’s “Family Guy”, which has been dominating Sunday nights and syndication for over a decade. I am a regular player of “The Simpsons: Tapped Out” game, and have also tried a few other city-builder/ sandbox games that I will review soon as well, but the Simpsons has been my favorite. Family Guy brings a few new additions and features to this popular genre, but does it do enough to keep me playing? Keep in mind, this review was written days after the game launched, so there are plenty of bugs that I am sure will be taken care of by the next update, so I am not deducting any points for things that will clearly be fixed sooner than later.
Just like most of the other licensed city-builder apps that are on the market, the world that the Family Guy characters live in has been decimated. In this case, Peter and his blood-feud with the chicken are the cause of it, as their latest brawl led to a massive explosion, which of course led to flaming chickens rampaging through Quahog. With the town left in a heap of rubble, it is up to you to rebuild and repopulate.
The game moves pretty fast in the opening acts, and right off the bat there are some differences from other city-builder games. It is easy to be immersed in this world, especially thanks to the art. Graphically, the animation is much smoother than The Simpsons, with more frames in all of the sprites to make it feel like you are watching the show and not playing a game. When the characters are not doing a task, you can actually grab them and move them wherever you want, a feature that I wish was available when they are doing things as well.
There is a lot of grabbing, in fact, as when you want your characters to do a task, you click the desired character, then instead of just clicking an activity, you drag it into the character to start them. Unlike other city-builder games, each character levels up separately from how the game itself levels. Certain tasks can not be completed until your character reaches a certain level, and specific items are also held back until your town levels up, so the game forces you to make sure you tap things as well as use all of your characters equally, something that players may become lazy with as the size of their town grows and the money flows from buildings rather than characters doing tasks.
As you get more characters, you are also able to add them as friends on your “Facespace” account, a Facebook parody that lets you see how your characters interact with each other when they are not doing your bidding. It’s a fun and welcome feature that adds more depth to the game. Another new addition that this game has is items that characters will randomly find when doing tasks. These items are used to advance certain quest lines, and later in the game after you unlock Al Harrington’s, you hunt for more items to purchase new outfits for the characters.
As you obtain more homes and buildings, you need to buy more space. Unlike in the Simpsons game where you just pay in-game money to open that part of the map up, in Family Guy, you utilize a migrant worker who you spend in-game money on, as well as wait a specific period of time for him to finish working on that space. I will get back to that topic in a bit, once we start talking about the biggest negative aspect of the game.
As of the initial release, there are 18 characters available in the game – 14 you earn by leveling up, and four additional characters that you can purchase with “Clams”, the in-game premium currency. Clams start as low as 1.99 for 50, with the most expensive purchase at 3,500 for $99.99, and are used for buying stuff that you can not normally spend with in-game money or for speeding up tasks.
The biggest problem with the game is how incredibly money-hungry it is. All freemium games are ultimately trying to get your money, but most are far more subtle. Just like the Family Guy cartoon show, the developers desire for your cash is in your face all the time. Every tutorial in a city-builder game like this makes you spend the premium currency early on to show you how it works, but the Family Guy game makes it into quests. There is no need to actually do them, but the amount of times it thrusts Clams in your face just in the beginning is deplorable.
There is plenty of things to buy with the clams ranging from cheap to pricey, such as a mere 50 clams for Jake Tucker and the church (which is one of the earliest things that the game yells at you to buy by making you think it’s a mandatory quest and never actually goes away unless you do buy it), or 300 for Consuela and her home, or 750 for the Crippletron, among other fun items from the shows mythos. Remember when I mentioned those random item drops that you often need to get to complete quests? Your clams can also be used to bypass that, otherwise you will be forced to replay the same task until you do get it – another way the game is shoving the premium purchase down our throats. Buying more land becomes pretty pricey right from the start, as well as being time-consuming, and the remedy to that problem is also clams. Ultimately, it is the players choice on whether they want to spend their hard-earned clams on this stuff or not, I just wish the game was not as pushy about it.
The game also has social aspects to it, since Stewie gives you the ability to travel into the multiverse to see other people’s Quahogs. Unfortunately, this feature seems to be glitched currently, along with being able to link to my Facebook account, so hopefully they fix this very soon (if it’s working for you, let me know).
If you are a fan of the Family Guy brand of humor, then you will definitely enjoy the game. It does not hold back with in-jokes and show references, as well as the usual brand of bad taste humor, and is pretty fresh compared to the stale writing that the Simpsons game is currently going through (meta-jokes that never seem to end with each new update). Even without spending money, there is plenty of fun stuff to do in the game, and as far as this genre of game goes, it does offer some refreshing new aspects compared to rival games. However, when you do compare it to a game like “The Simpsons: Tapped Out” you realize the difference between that game and this is the same as the two shows – subtlety. You can buy premium items in either game, but Family Guy waves it in your face just like Al Harrington’s wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tubemen. Drink the kool-aid and become addicted to “Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff”, just be prepared to ignore a ton of messages asking for your money.
“Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff” is available to download for free on your iPhone or Android devices.