Review by edubuccaneer

Reviewed: 03/24/06

EA and the Don have an offer you can't refuse, bambino... you better take it. Benvenuto alla Famiglia i alla Cosa Nostra.

When EA announced that a Godfather game was in the works, I have to admit I thought "What the heck are those guys thinking?!". It's hard to imagine a story like the movies and book that is told in a way to be made into a game. Sure, Mafia did a story that had inspirations in Mario Puzo's novel, but it didn’t have the huge backlog and already stablished characters like The Godfather saga.

Even Francis Ford Coppola, the movie’s director and producer deeply resented the making of the game in public. But that didn’t stop EA from making this game. After some years in development and some delays, the game is here. At the skepticism and negative thinking were all for nothing… this game is a great experience to be lived, even though it feels a little bit strange playing classic scenes from a different perspective.

The game starts out with the classic tune and the big Paramount screen… the Don and his goons are out in the streets looking into Little Italy. Johnny, one of the Don’s underlings is telling everyone how the day was profitable in his shop and how he’s going to take his wife out to dinner. Shortly after, the shop is blown to bits and Johnny is dragged into an alley by some unfriendly thugs and gunned down. His little kid sees it all, and Don Vito tells him to hold his anger in, because he would soon get his revenge. Pan some years and the kid is a man now, and he’s in trouble. His mother asks for help from the Don while attending the classic Connie Corleone wedding from the movie. Luca Brasi is put into work and sent to help the kid out… in case you haven’t noticed, you’re the kid.

You’ll have a host of character editing features, from everything like nose length and nostrils to the size of his ears. After you’re through with looks, you’ll choose his clothes and take it into the streets. This editing feature is a lot like Henry Ford motto: “Your car can be any color you like, as long as it’s black” – since you can choose whatever options you want, at the end all of the possibilities look really the same, because the changes are little cosmetic features you really won’t be able to see while playing. The only thing that can remotely make your character ‘different’ is the clothing option, but not a whole lot, since there are very few clothes to start with. And there’s the annoying fact that when you want to change clothes and your look, you’ll need to quit the game, load it up again and go into the ‘barber’ and ‘tailor’ shops before choosing the ‘join the family’ option that takes you into the game.

The game plays out a lot like Mafia (incredibly, the inspirer becomes the ‘inspiree’) and you’ll have complete freedom to do whatever you want. You can take over local businesses from rival families to get some weekly income, steal cars, beat up people and even use some specific services that I won’t get into in this review, since I don’t want to spoil anything. You will have to drive around town to get to places and meet NPCs that will give you details for the missions. The cars aren’t varied, but the ones that you do drive are very well done and look terrific. The weapons for you to use aren’t numerous either, but each does it purpose well. There’s the classic shotgun, the .38, the Magnum, the Thompson (Tommy Gun) and even piano wire. “Ah, the piano wire…” (just a little quote from Hitman…). They all look and sound authentic.

Graphics-wise, the game looks very good. It runs smoothly and all the characters look really good. The characters from the movie look incredible, especially the Don, who has wrinkles, and walks just like Brando did in the movie. In the PC, of course, thanks to the more powerful hardware, the game looks much crisper and in higher resolutions, but it’s nothing that detracts from playing in consoles. The shops and fronts all look really good, but from the inside none really look a lot different from the other, especially the ones that have ‘rackets’ in the back. These rackets have two-three models, one for a warehouse, and another for washing machines and the classic brothel. That’s all you’ll get, so get accustomed so you can learn patterns to when you go take them over.

The sound in this game is incredible. Just the classic movie music worth the price of admission… but then there is the obvious music that was composed for the game: some of it consists of strange hip tunes that don’t really belong in a gangster game. Aside from that (which really isn’t a big problem, since it doesn’t apply to all the music), the sound play goes even further with the voice acting. Most of the actors from the movies that are still alive lent their looks and voices for the game, including the late Marlon Brando. Against all that was said, he sounds just like his character from the movie, and the apparent sound of his breathing machine that got so much news has been completely removed, it’s all crisp and clear. James Caan and Robert Duvall also bring in their acting into the game, and the rest of the cast that returns sounds really authentic. Unfortunately, Al Pacino didn’t agree to lend neither his looks nor his voice for the game, probably because of the upcoming Scarface game. His character is substituted by a different-looking person. Nothing big, considering you don’t play as him and he’s only a NPC.

As for the gameplay, the game plays incredibly smooth and it is a blast. The driving is a really responsive and the on foot action is on par or even better than that found in similar games. The melee fighting in this game is really where the game shines. You hold a shoulder button and use the pad to punch and kick the enemies. You’ll also be able to hold and smash people into objects and even walls. After you weaken the foe to a certain degree, you’ll be able the execute them. If you are unarmed, you’ll render them unconscious or even break their neck. If you have a gun in hand by that time, you’ll shoot them in the head. The same hand-to-hand system is also used for intimidating the local businesses. There is a system for the NPC’s ‘courage’. If you hit him/her and their property (called ‘weak spots’) until it hits the green bar, the person is intimidated. If you cross the red line limit, the person will be too pissed to even care, and will attack you to death.

The Godfather is a really fun game that makes good use of the source material, taking classic scenes from the movie and using them in different perspectives so you can act and feel like you’re part of the Family. Guess who beats up the Mortician daughter’s attackers? Or who takes the Don to the hospital?

Thanks for reading!

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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