Welcome to the family
This review originally posted at MentalGamers – www.mentalgamers.com/game_reviews.php?r=8
I’m told there was uproar among fans of The Godfather movies when they heard EA were making The Godfather The Game, but to be honest I don’t really care. I like to judge things on their merits so I ignore all the politics. When I opened up the package that ped though my letterbox I was slightly surprised by the size of it, but I soon had a nice tin display box sitting in my hands, and opening it up the DVD case was set in a velvet lined “coffin”. Suitably impressed I began installing.
I can’t write a review of The Godfather without mentioning the similarity to the Grand Theft Auto series. In fact you could say it?s like a cross between Mafia & GTA but taking the best bits of each – namely the gameplay from GTA and the Mafia from Mafia. (I don’t really have anything else good to say about Mafia, it was pretty bad but then this isn’t a Mafia review).
The first thing you need to do after you’ve loaded up the game is create a profile and use “Mob Face” to decide how you character will look. Luckily Mob Face is detailed enough to make your character look like anyone you choose. Naturally I chose myself, and although the finished result does resemble me I can’t help but see a more striking resemblance to Johnny Knoxville… But still, I have to say Mob Face is one of the best character creators I’ve used so top marks for that.
The game starts with a cut scene of your father making an exchange before your family’s bakery is blown up. Your father is then executed by some mobsters just as you (as a little boy) come running up. The man your father was paying off then tells you that some day you will have your revenge. That man is Don Corleone. Skip forwards a bit and your mother is at Don Corleone’s daughter’s wedding. As a Sicilian can not refuse a favour on his daughter’s wedding day, she asks him to take on her son, who has fallen in with a bad crowd. Congratulations, you’re now in the mob.
Although there are obviously certain liberties taken to allow you to become part of the action, The Godfather does remain pretty true to the original story. You start off at the bottom of the mob ladder as an outsider, and through extorting local businesses and completing hits and story missions you work your way up that ladder, through lower ranks like “Enforcer” and “Associate” right up to the top. After completing story missions you unlock clips from the film which tie in to the mission you just completed. Apart from the clips from the movie, you also get voice acting from some of the stars in the cut scenes, which really add to the immersion.
As you carry out tasks in the game you earn that which is most important to a gangster: Respect. And with respect comes upgrades to abilities. You can choose which abilities you want to upgrade, from Fighting, Shooting, Health, Street Smarts, and Speed. They’re pretty self explanatory, with street smarts making you a better negotiator and thereby making it easier to extort businesses and interrogate people.
There are five neighbourhoods to take over as you see fit: Little Italy, New Jersey, Hells Kitchen, Brooklyn, and Midtown. Each of these is controlled by one of the other rival families and to take control for the Corleones you have to take out the other family’s compound, which I can assure you is no easy task. Also, if you pick on one family too much you may find yourself kicking off a mob war which can only be ended by bombing one of the rival’s businesses or bribing and FBI agent.
If you were on foot these neighbourhoods would take a long time to explore, but just like GTA you can hijack cars to get about. I can’t say I was overly impressed with the driving, but then with the exception of a few missions where you need to get somewhere in a time limit, driving is pretty much only needed for getting between neighbourhoods. One thing I did notice that always annoyed me in other games with driving is that when you honk your horn people actually move out of your way. You can also use the cars to complete the list of different “executions”, which is good fun.
The graphics are not exactly top notch, they don’t really push a PC too hard but I feel the game was probably designed more with consoles in mind. You can also see glitches in the characters during a lot of the cut scenes. The control system also seems to confirm this, although the controls do get to be quite intuitive the more you play. One complaint I have though is that while you can change the targeting between “free” and “auto” modes, the automatic lock on often chooses innocent bystanders before the rival mobster that is about to blast you away with a shotgun.
The sound is a lot better though, with the voice acting I already mentioned and the original musical score helping you get right into the action. The ambient sounds are also spot on, from the street noises to the music wafting around from people’s rooms. I can’t really find fault with the sound at all.
If you just go through the story missions this will not exactly be a long game, although without upgrading your abilities you might find it tough. The real pleasure comes from getting totally stuck in to the mob way – Extorting businesses, carrying out hit contracts, and of course earning respect. There’s plenty of blood and gore though, which I personally find quite satisfying, but obviously earn the game an 18 rating. Overall a very satisfying mob experience and plenty to keep you occupied if you take the time to explore all it has to offer.
The Bad: Some missions are incredibly difficult, Auto-targetting can be twitchy