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Jeremy Jastrzab
22 Mar, 2006

The Godfather Review

Xbox Review | An offer you can't refuse?
A lot of people are probably sick of the ill-attempts at bringing gang mayhem culture to our home consoles. The result has been a countless number of really poor games that are nothing more than GTA clones. Maybe it was for this reason, that EA have decided to go back in time to find something of a more successful formula. Seriously, how much more sophisticated and potentially great does an open-ended action game based on The Godfather movies and novels sound? After many years in development and countless delays, has EA delivered an offer that we can’t refuse?

Given that The Godfather was an excellent story in it’s own right, it’s pretty much given that this would’ve translated into the video game. You don’t play as any one character from the movie or book. You’re just something of an “accessory” to dance in and out of the main narrative. It’s done reasonably well but obviously, the main actions centre around the action sequences and the families’ dominance over the town. It all sticks to the original plot pretty well but things get a little bit messy and hole-ridden because the game fails to take into account a few of the more dramatic developments. Meaning, you’ll be told something that’s happened completely out of the blue or seemingly by incident. If you are not familiar with the original story, some of the events may confuse you as they happen because you aren’t told when things happen, just that they’ve already happened. Still, the gist is that you’ve got to work your way through the story and through the ranks of the Corleone family.

Outnumbered but never out done.

Outnumbered but never out done.
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The game starts off with your character witnessing the death of his father and Don Vito telling you that your time for revenge will come. You then get to create your own gangster with a version of the EA game face. The process is interesting, deep and actually takes itself quite seriously (not guy with pink pigtails here). It’s encouraging your character to be an actual gangster. The game then picks up several years later, where Corleone enforcer, Luca Brasi, finds you in an alleyway and you’re led through the game’s basic controls. For a little while after that, the game runs you through most of the basic actions and you’ll get more explanations as you discover more activities.

The missions in The Godfather have you playing through the storyline and there are nearly twenty of them. Given that it spans quite a few years, between each mission you are given a briefing as to the current situation – though not everything is always covered. You’re character is not a part of the original plotlines but the developers have done reasonably well to fit him into the key action points. After meagre beginnings, it’s you who has to fight his was through the mire after Luca Brasi is killed, plant the gun in the toilet for Michael Corleone and fight with Sonny Corleone as he wages his war. As you progress, missions get bigger, meaner and come under heavier fire and as you’d expect, give a seamless blend of shooting, fighting and driving action, as well as some of the game’s unique additions.

The Godfather game came with a lot of promises of branching storylines and features but unfortunately, it doesn’t quite pan out that way. The story is as it was originally made but there are a lot more things outside the main story than in. One of the first things that you learn is how to extort businesses. There are hundreds of small businesses around your town and part of your job as low-enforcer is to get some of them onto your payroll. To do this is simple and addictive. Walk up to any business that isn’t owned by the Corleone family and talk to the owner. If he/she refuses your protection offer, a meter will appear below their health bar. You then can intimidate them by breaking objects or by beating them up until their blue meter eclipses the green line. Now they should be co-operative and pay nice and quietly. However, beat them too much and they may start to fight back (meaning you won’t get anything from them) or the current controlling family will send their own goons to protect their store.

Businesses are only the start of things, as you look to become the most powerful man in the City. As you control the “fronts”, you’ll often be given access to the backdoor once you own the shop. Sometimes, you’ll find a “racket” being run out the back of the store and then it’s up to you whether you want to buy out the illegal operations. Again, you may have to run through rival families to get to where you need to go. From there, you advance to taking over family warehouses, which happen to be heavily guarded. To do so, you need to fight through the barricades, storm the building and plant a well-placed bomb in order to eliminate their operations.

Fire-fights can get quite heavy

Fire-fights can get quite heavy
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Once you finish the story missions, you’re next task is to cripple and takeover the other families. To do this, you have to take the family compound, which happened to be guarded even more heavily than the warehouses. This time, you fight you’re way through the enemy forces with the objective of bombing the two strongholds. This is no task to be sneezed at and you really need some heavy firepower to them down. However, this is all necessary for you to eventually become the Don of the City.

Tasks don’t end there for the player. You can pick up “contracts” that require you to take care of people who have betrayed the family. Satisfy the bonus condition, eg. Only use a baseball bat or make it look like an accident to get a big bonus. As with any good open-ended game, you’ve got the whole city open for exploration. There are plenty of open buildings, alleyways, safes and crevices to be explored. With all the money that you earn from mission and your cut from the business extortion, you can use it to buy safehouses, change your attire and buy weapons and ammo. In some places you’ll find a black-arms dealer who will sell you ammo and there are a few well-hidden dealers who sell very powerful weapons at a very high price.

A concept introduced in GTA: San Andreas has been refined here in The Godfather. Experience and levelling-up is nothing new for an action game these days but it fits this game reasonably well. All your actions will gain you some respect – everything from completing missions to blowing up safes to extorting a business to killing a rival family member. As you gain respect you’ll gain levels and points that you can distribute between five attributes. Obviously as you gain levels, your shooting becomes more accurate, you fighting stronger and aspects such as negotiation skills become much successful without needing to resort to violence. Two other minor aspects of the game are Heat and Vendetta. Heat is a measure of your illegal activities that will get the attention of the cops. Too much heat and they’ll be after you or you can bribe them to avoid it in the first place. Vendetta comes about as you knock off rival family members and destroy their stuff. Too much will cause a gang war.

I am looking for my friend "Bill". Have you seen any "Bills"?

I am looking for my friend "Bill". Have you seen any "Bills"?
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The Godfather has a unique fighting engine. You lock onto someone by pressing the L trigger and you throw attacks by tapping forward on the right analog stick. You can unleash a heavier attack by pulling back then pushing forward, grab and move them by pressing R trigger. Environments come into play, as you can slam them against walls or throwing them off ledges. For the most part, the system feels good except when you are trying to take on more than one enemy.

The shooting mechanics seem to work well initially but once the action ramps up, it doesn’t always hold up. You draw and reload weapons by pressing up on the d-pad and down to hide them again. Pressing the L trigger will lock-on and the R trigger will fire. A twist some in that when you’re locked on, you use the right analog stick for precision aiming – something that’s extremely useful and effective. However, the game is not designed for running and gunning. It heavily encourages you to duck and take cover behind objects and walls, in order to slowly pick off the enemies, one-by-one. For a lot of the missions the environments are designed to help you with this but there are a few too many occasions both in and out of missions where you’re left high and dry.

It doesn’t help when the lock-on can only switch targets arbitrarily by quickly pressing the L trigger after de-pressing it. The only way to assist your situation is by entering the free-aim mode by pressing the white button. However, it still doesn’t quite account for the fact that not all environments will help you and simply that the system will not always hold up as the enemy count increases. In missions, it’s not too bad because the “checkpoints” are fairly frequent but it can get frustrating when you’re extorting businesses and especially during compound takeover runs. What makes it even stranger is that outside of missions, you’re a one-man army and you’ll be storming compounds with up to fifty enemies being housed.

You wish this was a exciting as it looks.

You wish this was a exciting as it looks.
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Driving is a crucial part of the game but it ends up feeling arbitrary. Apart from getting you around town, you’ll be involved in a few car chases and timed challenges but they’re nothing new. There are only a few different kinds of cars and are only differentiable by their speeds. We were never expecting Gran Turismo but the vehicles handle fairly easily. However, they have no personality, hardly any distinguishing characteristics and the damage model is almost non-existent. One nifty trick is that cars will get out of the way if you blow your horn. Still, it’s a big town and walking will not get you everywhere. There could’ve been some consideration for a quicker form of transport to get you to locations quickly and the placement of some key areas leads to a lot of repetitive trekking.

Everything in The Godfather comes together reasonably well. It’s simple enough to be easily learned yet there’s enough to keep the player interested throughout. The ideas with fighting and shooting are good but as the game goes, you’ll find it to be little too limiting and the mechanics just don’t hold up at times. The new additions to the open-ended nature of the game help and can be quite addictive. The general use of the license is good, with faithful references to most of the main character making for a colourful, unique and interesting cast. There are also a few introductory videos that explain the setting, including details of the families, areas and features of the game and you can unlock clips from the movie that fill a few of the holes in the game and show some key events.
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The main story takes about 10 hours, though it will depend how many businesses you hit along the way. After the story there are a good 10 hours to complete every single hit, take over all compounds and become the biggest boss of them all – and this is how you will get the most out the game. If you really want to collect every film canister and blow up every safe, the game probably won’t go too far over 25 hours. Pretty good for a single player game but estimates of a 30+-hour adventure are way off. If there is one thing that really holds the game back, it is that it lacks any real heights or really endearing moments. Throughout, it feels a little too safe and at time familiar and pedestrian. Sure some of the missions are action packed with huge explosions and plenty of survival tension, the package overall doesn’t quite reach the dramatic tension of the movies.

Graphics-wise, the game starts of very impressively. The initial cinematic presentation really blows you away and the quality of the graphics is very impressive, initially. For some reason, the cinematic moments are few and far in between and the end result is that it hardly ever reaches the peaks that it initially looks like it will deliver. The same happens with the graphics, as the characters are very faithfully recreated, the city looks big and expansive and it’s all pretty smooth. In particular, the death animations are great, you can shoot someone with a shotgun and watch then stagger until they hit a wall. Animations are pretty good in general. However, the repetitive NPC’s, repetitive car models and repetitive environments will eventually lose their appeal. It’s all seamless, with no loading and the frame-rate is solid for the most part but there will always be graphical glitches.

Umm... Side-missions anyone?

Umm... Side-missions anyone?
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Sound-wise, the game is pushed along with a lot of varied voicing form a cast that obviously know what they’re doing. They really convey the world and emotions extremely well. Not to mention, you won’t be reading any text. The rest of the sounds all do their jobs, with guns that have enough bang and explosions that have enough boom. The cars are somewhat indistinctive but they often make a horrible clunking noise whenever they hit another car. Then there are occasions where the sound track completely goes on the frits, spurting random sound effects that are completely irrelevant at the time or place. The music is strangely subdued and should’ve been used to its full extent.

Overall, The Godfather is an interesting homage to classic movie and novel. However, the focus on action means that some of the movie’s cinematic appeal is lost. However, the focus on action makes for an enjoyable game with a great setting. While it does play a little too safely for a game in a genre known for endearing features, it does bring enough new aspects and new ideas to the table to make it worth a look. The individual mechanics come together reasonably well with none being brilliant or outstanding but once you get the way that the game encourages you to play, it works out reasonably well. It’s just too bad that it doesn’t really hit the peaks that you’d expect. Is this an offer you will refuse? Maybe, but it does deserve a look in from anyone interested in a good action romp with a great premise and setting.
The Score
The Godfather is a good action game with an a great premise and setting. While it doesn't quite deliver all the goods, it's an offer that fans of this genre shouldn't refuse. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related The Godfather Content

The Godfather coming to Wii and PS3
14 Jan, 2007 Two different editions.
New Godfather premium content released
24 Oct, 2006 Buy $250K for 150 points.
The Godfather Review
02 Oct, 2006 How does the PSP version hold up?
4 Comments
8 years ago
Played mafia?How does this compare to mafia, cause that was tops.
8 years ago
Mafia is one of my all time favs. Godfather allows a little more immersion into the role of a gangster (through your activities) but Mafia has much more explosive and endearing gameplay.
I think it helps Mafia that the game doesn't have any constraints with respect to an already given medium.
8 years ago
seems to have turned out a lot better than i was expecting.

i'm not sure if i'll get it (probably not) but at least it isn't as rotten as i expected when i first heard of it.
8 years ago
good and fair review
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  EA Games
Developer:
  ???
Players:
  1

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