Electronic Arts has been in the business for a long, long time. So long that they have as many enemies as they do friends. The partnerships they have made with various movie licenses have been successful.
Why? Perhaps because of the time that was taken to nurture every partnership, perhaps it was because Electronic Arts knew how to push the buttons…or maybe it was because they made an offer that no one could refuse. The Godfather II was that offer, and I gladly accepted it.
The Godfather II is the sequel to the original video game that was developed by Electronic Arts years previous. While the first game cast your character as a soldier for Don Vito Corleone, The Godfather II takes spins around the story in the sequel in an interesting way. It does nothing but confuse me, but that doesn’t mean that it turns the game sour.
Throughout the entire Godfather II story you play as a start-up soldier known simply as Dominic. At the beginning of the game your job is to simply protect Don Corleone through an escape from Cuba, and then as thanks he gives you control of his compound in New York. If you’re familiar with the game, you end up becoming your own “Don” of sorts, complete with soldiers, capo’s, and an Underboss. Throughout the game you play through the stories within the film, only from the side, assisting Michael Corleone in any way you can all the while taking over rackets and businesses in three major locations from the first game. It sounds confusing, almost as if it wouldn’t work. But it does, and it really isn’t anything to worry about. The game does completely avoid the Vito Corleone subplot that appears in the film, but…batta bing, batta boom…what can you do, eh?
Creating your character is as simple as filing through many complex tools. The way Dominic looks is completely up to you. A lot of detail is paid to the face, and your body mass index. You can be a bald slob with a big gun, or a skinny nerd with a big gun, or a handsome devil with big guns and a pistol. It’s all up to you, really. Your imagination is key to allowing this process to work correctly. One of the things that is obviously missing from the character creation is a randomizer, or any pre-made avatars for you.
When you arrive in New York, many similarities with the original Godfather come to life. You’re tasked with the responsibility to take over businesses and rackets to increase your criminal empire. As you advance through the story you will find that there are several tutorial cut scenes that are quick to the point, and actually interesting to watch. They’ll give you some idea of how to advance through your current objective, and it is over.
The third-person view of the game is spot-on. The Godfather II developers may have taken a cue from Rockstar, and implemented a combat and cover system incredibly similar to what we find in Grand Theft Auto IV. It is simple, and intuitive. That’s really all that matters, right? Your weapons load-out is fairly simple. You have a pistol, magnum, shotgun, machine gun, garotte (choke wire), your hands, and some sort of melee weapon. Throughout the maps and missions you’ll find upgrades for all of the guns, even for dynamite and molotov cocktails.
Rushing into a racket and searching for the owner is exciting. The difficulty behind it is trying to take out the rival family all the while avoiding civilians, police, and the owner of the establishment. Sometimes I would find myself mowing down the wrong people, and I would have to leave and return later. Although you would think it would get old, because the game rewards you for every take over, you end up wanting to get it right every time.
After taking over a business or racket, you’ll be given the opportunity to go into The Don’s View and assign guards to protect your racket. Find a way to afford all the guards, it is worth it in the end. The Don’s View is also an opportunity for you to change the look of your character, and your soldiers. “The View “also includes a 3-dimensional isometric view of the entire map. It’s a great way to manage, and keep an eye on all of your businesses. It’s also important because you keep a close eye on your rivals through this view.
As you grow your criminal empire, the opportunity will arise to hire on soldiers with different abilities. The engineer is your techie, allowing you to kill the power to buildings and cut through wire fences. The bruiser is required to burst through reinforced doors and windows. Your safe cracker can not only crack safes, but also help you get into locked doors. You have an explosives specialist to add to your queue, along with a medic. Each of them are required to complete the game, as you need more than your own talents to get through.
It is enjoyable to drive through the sunny south and see all of the brightly dressed people, and brightly colored cars. Although the direction that the developers took with the graphics is far from realistic, the amount of polish that is involved is almost detrimental. Would it make sense if I told you that I think the game is too shiny? It almost looks like there is a thick layer of gloss over everything. It’s just weird, and there is not something else out there to compare them to.
The original films actors are too old to get into the recording studio, or dead, so the re-creation of the voices from the movies had to be done, and they did an excellent job. After I finished the game, I watched the film to compare it. Each of the characters, in comparison to their film counterparts, sound almost the same. I was absolutely ecstatic when listening to this game. An equal amount of work must have been put into the soundtrack as well! While the previous game just re-used the Godfather theme over and over, the current iteration of the mafia underworld uses a variety of themes based upon the time period and location. Although none of it stands out, it all flows together into a smooth experience.
Godfather II does not leave you feeling like you are the Don, but more like you’re just a high ranking soldier with your own family. This is the same complaint that I had with the first game. You really do not end up feeling like a mobster, just a punk.
Finishing this game will take you about 10 hours, if you’re lucky. There aren’t any sort of sidequest, or even things to collect. Breezing through the story is an enjoyable experience, but in the end Godfather II winds up failing as great way to tell the story. It is, however, an awesome sandbox game. In the end, it has it’s problems, but it is an offer that would be hard to refuse.
Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review
Solid, but shiny graphics. All of your interface options are quick, and simple.
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It is a solid sandbox title, but not the best Godfather re-creation.
Almost perfect represenation of the actors, with a very supportive soundtrack.
Doesn't take long, and there isn't a reason to play it again.
It's an offer that is hard to refuse