‘Family Guy’ game is fun, funny and free — but flawed

Fans of Family Guy are no longer limited to watching their favourite animated characters on the hit television show — now they can interact with them.

Now available for PC and Mac, Family Guy Online is a free-to-play browser-based multiplayer game that lets you walk around the Griffin household, beat up bullies on Spooner Street and hang out in Quahog's lamest watering hole, The Drunken Clam.

While Family Guy Online delivers plenty of laughs, impressive 3D graphics and fun missions for familiar characters, there are technical issues that can mar the overall experience. In all fairness, the free game is still in "beta" — meaning the developer is ironing out the kinks and applying feedback from users — but patient Family Guy fans will no doubt find this a "freakin' sweet" offering.

After you download the Unity browser plug-in, sign up for a free account (which lets you log on from any browser) and then you'll create a male or female character from scratch or choose a randomly generated one. You don't play as familiar Family Guy characters, but you can select one as a template, of sorts, including Peter, Stewie, Meg, Lois, and so on — each with their own unique skills and weapons.

Played from a third-person perspective, this online role-playing game has you move your character around using the 'WASD' keys on your keyboard (forward, back, left and right), while your mouse is used to click on people or items. Much of the gameplay is performing missions for characters from the TV show, beginning with collecting items for the dim-witted Chris Griffin (voiced by Seth Green). And yes, the evil monkey is in his closet. In fact, the game is laced with multiple inside jokes and references to the show.

You can play the game by yourself — most of the missions involve finding objects, fighting against enemies or rescuing someone — but you can also chat and team up with others to perform missions. You'll see other gamers at all times, with their character and in-game name floating above their head

The more you play, the more you "level up" your character, which in turn unlocks new abilities, apparel and other objects. In-game currency includes gold and cash, which can be earned by playing and performing missions. Or you can spend real cash to fast track — like many other "freemium" social and mobile games. There is also in-game advertising, such as Axe body spray.

Family Guy Online is voiced by much of the show's cast, including dialogue recorded specifically for the game. The corny Mayor Adam West, for instance, serves as your guide. There also are audio clips pulled from various episodes. The 3D rendering of the virtual city of Quahog should be a treat for fans, and the game was mostly penned by Family Guy writers. There are many video clips from the show you can play that are tied to your task at hand.

As fun as it is, the game has its share of technical issues. For one, it's not unusual for the game to hang during the load screen — until you refresh your web browser. Or you might be asked to wait a couple of minutes before logging in to play. You might be told the servers are full or there's a problem with the Unity player. In other words, playing the game while in beta requires some patience.

But if you consider yourself a fan of the show — and can't help but smile where you hear phrases like "Giggity," "bird is the word" or "Tom Tucker" -- then be sure to give Family Guy Online a spin for a fun and funny good time. Just keep in mind it's free and still a work in progress.