Review by dGalloway
"Not a GTA killer, but still an enjoyable game"
The Godfather is a franchise that demands respect. It is the only film series to win two Best Pictures, the first two films have been deemed "culturally significant," and it has remained a fixture at the very top of the IMDB top 250 movies. So imagine the uproar that occurred when EA, one of the most hated developers in all of gaming, announced that they were making a VIDEO GAME based on this absolute classic. To make matters worse, the project was delayed considerably, Marlon Brando died before completion, and Al Pachino was signed up for a Scarface game. And finally, the Godfather has hit the gaming scene. But is it worth it? Well, yes and no.
Graphics: The graphics move quite quickly from "excellent" to "average," often at random intervals. The character models are extremely well-textured, and an absolute joy to behold, but nearly every building, street and shop looks exactly the same, save for a few minor details. Also not helping the graphics are the vehicles; there are only eight different models, and nearly all of them share the same colors and appearance. Still, they are at least passable. (7/10)
Music and Sound: Much of the game's music comes from the film's soundtrack; hence, it is almost inherently excellent. Much like GTA, music does not play when exploring on foot, only when driving or during a mission or fight. The sound is excellent, but not really notable. Many of the film's original cast was used, making the voice acting very authentic and enjoyable. Your character's voice is passable, but not grating. It's just unfortunate Al Pachino wasn't available; otherwise, this would have been the most perfect score I could ever give. (8/10)
Gameplay: Like about 3/4 of the games on the market today (as of March 2006, at least), the game is very much a GTA clone. You are given essentially free reign; you can go all over New York, either doing business for the family, completing missions, or simply having GTA-style fun. The controls are very well implemented, although I can see why PC users will have absolute heck with them. (This game REQUIRES a controller to play.) Driving is much easier in this game than in GTA, although the physics engine does need some work (cars accelerate WAY too quickly).
The fighting system is simple, but a lot of fun. You lock on using the L trigger, and use the right thumb stick to punch, dodge, and power attack. You can block with the X button, although you usually won't have to, since the AI is sadly not that good. Up close, you can also grab your opponent and bash them to a pulp, or simply throw them into the nearby scenery. When it comes to shooting, you can perform the usual moves: you can lean around corners, shoot enemies in specific regions to disarm them, sneak past them and shoot from behind, or simply blow them up with dynamite and bombs. And finally, there are the executions; by pressing the black button when an opponent is near death, you can finish them in a far more elaborate manner, depending on the weapon used, your position in relative to theirs, and whether or not they're in a hold.
In addition to the standard missions, which must be completed at some point to advance in rank in the Corleone family, there are numerous side quests to partake in. One of the funnest in this regard is shaking down venues. You can enter a butcher's shop and tell the owner to pay for his "protection," and if being nice doesn't work, you can simply smash his store to pieces, slap him around, or harass his customers. After a while, if you don't overdue it and send him into a rage, he'll give in and start paying his dues to the family. You can also obtain illegal rackets, although you quite often have to face the other families to get through them. Also, you can participate in mob wars, although you should REALLY make sure you're ready to fight before joining up, or it will get real ugly quickly. Also, murder and extortion has a habit of bringing the heat; you'll have to either avoid the police or bribe them to get them off your back.
And finally, there is the respect meter. As you succeed in missions and bring glory to the family, you gain respect. Once the score is high enough, you gain a respect level, the same as gaining an experience level in a RPG. You can then place one point in one of your five attributes, to a maximum of ten. This gives the game a slightly more personal feel, which is augmented by the character creator, which allows you to customize your own mobster before you start. Even the clothes he wears increases his respect.
Unfortunately, as this overly lengthy section concludes, there are the negative aspects of the game. First is the tailor and barber shops; they are only available when you start or load a game. In other words, to change from suspenders to a three-piece suit, you have to save your game, restart the system, and continue from there. As mentioned a few paragraphs ago, the AI in this game is extremely lacking; I swear civilians have literally jumped into the path of my car, raising my heat meter when I least wanted it, and the enemies immediately drop their guns and start fist fighting when you get close, even if they're using a shotgun. And finally, the game simply isn't very long; you can finish most of the content not long after twenty hours. To be fair, though, it WAS longer than Gun. (7/10)
Story: You'd expect a game based on the Godfather to tell the story of the Godfather. Well, it does, but it doesn't. Your character is an aspiring member of the Corleone family, whose father was killed before your eyes by a rival family. From there, the game places you in parallel situations with the movie, where you learn that you were partly responsible for many of the events that occured in the film. As a whole, however, if you're interested in seeing the story of the Godfather, watch the movie. The game leaves too many holes to fully explain it. (6/10)
Overall: Even though a lot of potential was lost in this game, it still survives the translation from film to XBox mostly intact. It's not as sophisticated as GTA, and may not win over real fans of the film, but it's still a blast to play, and quite possibly the best game EA has put out in years...although to be fair, that's not saying much.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/24/06
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