The Godfather Review

Developer: EA Redwood Shores Publisher: EA Games
Release Date: March 21, 2006 Also On: PC, PS2 and Xbox

EA Games made an interesting and daring move when they decided to publish the videogame recreation of the 1973 classic film, “The Godfather�. As a family-friendly company, EA faced a tough decision in making an authentic experience but also one that didn’t allow or encourage ruthless, brutal violence. They’ve done just that, and also recaptured the beauty of freedom found in today’s open-world “Grand Theft Auto clones�. The Godfather: The Game is, by unfortunate and ignorant classification, a “GTA clone�. It’s only when the gamer stops and takes note of The Game’s individual, innovative factors that he or she can appreciate it for what it is, not what it’s competing against.

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

Rather than throw you right into the shoes of one of the film’s characters (something that’s been proven to be boring by every other “movie gameâ€? out there), The Game forces you to create a mobster on your own, one who will be your on-screen avatar for the entire experience. Using the MobFace system, you can create a mobster from the hair to the feet, one that can even look just like yourself provided that you aren’t female (The Game has no female option). After that, you’re thrown into the 1940’s New York mob war, put into the ranks of the Corleone mob family. From there, it’s your good deeds to the family and your own miscellaneous exploits that will eventually earn you the rank of The Godfather.

Getting to that elusive rank isn’t a small feat, and throughout the course of The Game’s storyline, I never felt a single moment of time go by where I didn’t have something to do. If I was driving around the streets of NYC, I could get out of my vehicle and explore. If there was a nearby establishment, I could extort it and terrorize the business owner into paying the Corleone family for future “protection�. I even found myself lost in a world of hits and assassinations, where I was awarded money for taking out the bad guys in creative ways like throwing them into fiery furnaces and the like. Doing all of this throughout the storyline will earn you Respect points that serve as experience points, and collecting them lets you upgrade skills like Shooting, Fighting, and Street Smarts. Some of the upgrades make the game much easier. For example, after leveling-up your Street Smarts skill a few levels, you no longer have to worry about the pesky police getting involved with you if you happen to borrow a parked car every once in a while.

With all of this stuff to do, it’s nothing if not a miracle that The Game plays so well, utilizing the innovative “Black Hand� control scheme that EA has touted for so long. Similar to EA Sport’s popular (and excellent) Fight Night Round 3, all of the fighting controls are done using the right analog stick in conjunction with targeting buttons. It is possible, in three swift motions of the analog stick, to punch an opponent, headbutt him, and then thrust his body into a wall. This feeling of control gives the game’s extortion element even more flesh, making the player feel like he or she is actually the one putting the wrath of hell into a helpless business owner. Fortunately it’s not just the melee controls that feel so well. Using explosives and shooting guns is extremely easy as well, accompanied by duck-and-cover controls when you’re up against a corner or behind a crate. The ability to shoot certain points of an enemy’s body has been used before, but it’s extremely helpful in this game. If you’re supposed to assassinate someone with a baseball bat and he’s busy running around avoiding you, shooting out his kneecaps is only a small effort that pays off well for the mission.

It’s hard not to draw parallels between The Game and GTA, and most of you will be doing it anyway, so I’ll wrap up anything else I can think of and haven’t previously talked about. First of all, The Game has very few car models, being blown away by the dozens of vehicles featured in GTA, so that’s a slight disappointment. There are a few slow cars, a few trucks, and a few faster cars. That’s about it, other than standard taxis, cop cars, and ambulances. Most of the vehicles control well (much better than the slippery GTA cars), making the biggest difference speed at which one travels compared to another. Next, GTA’s hidden package collector items return in The Game as film reels, which unlock bonuses as well as give you extra Respect points. Last of all, The Game lets you upgrade your weapons by contacting black market agents scattered throughout New York instead of forcing you to find or buy them like GTA does. There are a decent amount of weapons available, but obviously due to the time period you won’t be shooting rockets or riding jetpacks in this game.

The Godfather “charm�, if that’s what you want to call it, is captured perfectly in almost every confrontation and in-game cut-scene. EA must be given a lot of credit for getting Godfather actors like Robert Duvall and James Caan to sign onto the project, making every interactive cut-scene even more authentic. It’s unfortunate (and old news) that Al Pacino didn’t want to cooperate and be featured in The Game, and Marlon Brando passed away before the majority of development was underway, but having a good amount of the actors intact is a big plus for the production values of the final product.

The visuals are also something to brag about. Few current-gen games look this good, especially on the Playstation 2 verison I played. The draw distance was pretty weak, but the particle effects, detailed character models, explosion and fire effects are all excellent qualities that The Game delivered in excess. Even the hair on some of the game’s characters moves during conversations.

There are few things wrong with The Game, but if one thing actually bugged me, it was a small detail. The police system is done very well in the game, giving you a good level of leeway before major punishment is delivered to you, but it seemed to me like pedestrians were just wanting to get killed in this game. I’d drive along the street, with few if any bad intentions, and a pedestrian would randomly run in my way, serve as a speed bump, and net me attention from the police. Though the vehicles control well, there’s little I could do about running people over, because it happens so suddenly and so randomly that you’d have to drive in short spurts of slow speed to avoid hitting anyone.

The Godfather: The Game is one of those games that will unfortunately live under a lot of pressure and criticism due to its similarities to Rockstar’s open world behemoth, but those of you who accept it for its own feats will get to the core of the game and enjoy every second of it. Fans of the movie or novel should consider this an offer they absolutely can’t refuse.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 8.8
Written by Cliff Review Guide

Leave a Comment