Review

The Godfather Review (Xbox360)

Enter the world of The Godfather as a fresh faced mobster with something to prove, and to violently avenge your family, naturally.

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Whether it’s a game becoming a movie, or a movie transforming into a game, directors and developers everywhere tread a very thin line.  The Godfather is an iconic, epic and immense intellectual property so the challenge is truly staggering.

Technically this would be a second stab for EA at the game, as previous releases for Xbox, PS2 and PC don’t have the extra goodies.  The immediate visual ‘upgrade’ is stunning when you compare the old to the new, richer textures, more effects, more cars, more pedestrians and more variety overall.

Our gangsters’ journey begins as a boy, whose father is roughed up and killed by one Don Emilio Barzini.  You at first take control as your characters father to learn some basic moves, a quick mini tutorial on how to move about.  Soon enough he’s pumped full of old skool lead.  The boy (you) sees his fathers bullet riddled corpse and is comforted by the Godfather himself, who swears that when he’s old enough he can have his revenge.

Voice acting is top notch, as it was the late Marlon Brando himself who revived Don Vito Corleone.  As well as Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen) and James Caan (Santino 'Sonny' Corleone) putting in their heavy voice presence.  A big thumbs up for the movie lovers!

Mobface is the great system the player uses to create their own mobster, from tweaking an eyebrow to the dimple on his chin.  Scars, moles, and lots of in depth settings can let you make your own unique tough guy.  To further personalize your New York journey, you can select his hairstyle and dress sense.  Both of these can be changed at any time during the game, either before you enter or during if you visit a barber or tailors shop.

Once you’re done sculpting your human master piece, you become apart of The Godfather.  That’s what EA want you to feel anyway.  While you won’t be directly involved in any of the films big moments, like when Michael shoots two certain gentlemen in a little Italian restaurant, you will be responsible for the ‘behind the scenes’ action.  Like who was it exactly that planted that gun, loped off that horses head, and lead the demise of some rival family figure heads?

Outside of the core story missions, this game has the beating heart of an urban free-roam sandbox.  Yes its true, Grand Theft Auto has struck again in a dastardly hit’n’run.  The Godfather does deliver its own brand as after all you’re out to literally conquer the whole criminal underworld of New York City.

There are a bountiful number of store fronts just waiting to be brought into the family coffers, I mean …protective arms.  One thing different in this next-gen rebirth is that many stores have been redesigned, there is now a better variety meaning you won’t crash into clone after clone of store front.

Hidden behind some nice, fresh smelling bakeries and the like are seedier operations.  Well, Italian-American ‘entrepreneurs’ didn’t rake in the big money just watching over some flower shops.  Brothels and gambling for all!  Taking over the rackets is paramount (see what I did there? Movie buff joke) to the big bucks, but even then the real money is cooped up safely inside warehouses and truck hubs.  Taking those bad boys, which conveniently house a lot of bad boys, will let the family really run the city.

Vehicle handling is simple and very straight forward, plus if the traffic keeps getting in your way just blow the horn like some crazed madman and you’ll be bolting on easy street.  Just remember to time it well or it can actually work against you.  Taking a car either in use or parked up will result in some heat.  No not the kind requiring sun block, the kind when a gun can do a lot of talking – which saves on the legal bills.

Better, varied interiors Richer textures, for a richer World

Get too much heat and the police will viciously hunt you down.  Luckily safe houses are littered around the city so popping home can be a life saver, as soon as you enter you’ll be put on low heat but it can easily sky rocket again so watch yourself.

As well as from the police, heat from the other families can be real tough as they do tend to have a more varied arsenal.  Tommy guns blasting away in your direction are never a good thing, especially when you accidentally crash beside two of their establishments.

Melee (punching, kicking) as been given an overhaul, and it’s now easier to dish out your physical objections to an adversaries groin or facial features.  Get a pummelling yourself and expect to carry a few black eyes for a while.  It’s always satisfying to throw an unhelpful shop keep straight through their store window.  It also becomes easier to threaten for extortion or interrogation.

A new additional element are ‘favours’, so instead of putting the squeeze on a stores merchandise or the owner, you can sometimes elect to help them.  If you do they’ll come over to the family with no fuss, these can sometimes be ‘removing’ some local thug or drug dealer.

Running about town waving your piece in everyone’s face, I’m talking about guns here, can have a not-so-good effect.  It’s best to make sure you conceal a weapon in the presence of rivals, as they’ll take it as a sign of hostility.  You can free aim but for the most part, locking on will serve you well.  It’s quick and can help you know when you have a disarming or disabling shot, the reticule will flash red.  Shooting their shoulder can make them lose their weapon, while a shot to the knee will drop them to the ground.

Any mob game wouldn’t be complete without stylish and horribly violent finishers.  Execution moves can add that finesse, each weapon has its own and some don’t even need a weapon but a well placed open and roaring furnace, or high ledge.  The game comes with its share of collectibles to rummage around New York for, blowing open safes, collecting hidden movie reels, fulfilling all blackhand executions, favours etc are all figured into the games completion percentage.

Starting out, your not some well-made big shot, you’re a complete nobody.  So, as you rise through the family ranks you also level up your character through earning respect.  This can be earned from taking stores, killing rivals or just buying fancy clothes and some new digs.  There are 50 levels maximum, which let you choose which upgrades to focus on.  In the end you’ll have them all but its important to think about which is most important to you in the beginning, health, shooting, fighting?

In order to become the big cheese, or at least the big cheese of New York, you’ll need to wipe out the other families.  That means taking over every store, warehouse and hub.  When you’ve weakened them enough that you smugly smile, prepare for the last stretch as you storm their compounds, the very homes of their power.

Another great next-gen feature is the ability to enlist the help of your associates, once you reach Enforcer.  Personally I think this should have been in the previous version, as after all this is about ‘family’, anyway you can now bring along some muscle to help with difficult negotiations.

The game world is big and while it’s packed, towered by sky scrappers and urban grids, you can feel each neighbourhood’s atmosphere.  Brooklyn, Little Italy, Hell’s Kitchen, New Jersey and Midtown are all for the taking.  When you have sufficiently crushed a neighbourhood it eventually belongs to the family, which means the police are less likely to take such an easy offence.

Money is power, and money will deliver you a lot of power in The Godfather, mainly firepower.  All the guns you carry can be traded in when you buy the better model; improved damage and range are vital advantages.  Though be warned, other families don’t like you flashing your cash for bigger cannons, because you’ll be using it against them soon enough.

More street hustle and bustle New missions, like seeing a half naked Moe Greene

I am a great fan of The Godfather saga, and while I don’t feel any game could do true justice to the sheer creative impact of the Corleone family, this game makes us one hell of an offer I couldn’t refuse.  Next stop, hopefully Vegas!

Top Game Moment:
  Seeing the movies greatest moments weave in and out, being made apart of this great and rich World.

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