The Godfather II


posted 4/22/2009 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PC 360
When you're not trying to take over businesses (and protecting them) you are asked to do other things, like kill a bunch of government insurgents or take out a competing family. Unfortunately these missions play out almost exactly like the standard property-taking missions. The only noticeable difference seems to be the fact that in these missions your goal is to kill somebody, not convince them to give you money. Outside of that one minor difference, these missions are the same. Sadly this means that you're going to spend the next ten or so hours running back and forth doing the same thing over and over again.

The good news is that you don't have to do it by yourself. The bad news is that the computer-controlled A.I. is so ridiculously terrible that you might as well be doing it by yourself. Each of the back-up members you hire (and then later upgrade) has a unique skill. For example, one of the guys will be able to cut through fences, other guys will be able to pick locks, another guy can bomb buildings and so on so forth. The idea behind these different skills is that you can use them to perform these tasks so that you can have an easier time acquiring property or taking out other families. Rarely do you actually need to use these talents, though. You see, the game doesn't really force you to pay much attention to that since you can almost always get in without any special abilities. Yes, it would be easier to cut through that fence, but if I walk around the corner there's an open door. So why am I bringing the fence cutter again?

Had it been fleshed out, this skill-based character class would have been really cool. You would have needed to use real strategy to take over the city, just not brute strength. But outside of a few very specific moments, you really don't need to pay much attention to these skills. The only good use for these computer-controlled characters is as back-up warriors. And they're not even good at that.

Actually, the computer-controlled good guys are so bad that at times I was confident that they were working for the enemy. These characters suffer from a lot of the same problems we've seen in other mediocre third-person action games. That is, they get stuck behind simple objects, they never really know who to shoot at and they have a really hard time doing the simplest things (like getting in the car). And that doesn't even begin to explain all of the technical problems that come with these back-up fighters. For one thing, you can never really be sure where your guys are. There were times when I would burst through the front door of an enemy building only to find my three partners standing there waiting for me. How did they get in there? I was leading the way and they were just behind me. Teleporting helpers are a common (and jarring) experience, something that never seems to work out for me in the long run.

Speaking of annoyances, I have a few things to say to the person that came up with this control scheme. As I stated before, I don't have a problem with the aiming or the gunplay, all of that is solid as far as I'm concerned. My problem is in the inconsistencies. A perfect example of this is the lack of a jump button, which means that you have to rely on the game to tell you what you can and cannot jump over. In many areas of the game you can easily jump over a small wall or into a window by using the action button ("Y" in this case). However, you can only perform these actions when the game tells you to, so not every small wall or window can be jumped over or into. This means that when you're running from the fuzz and you see that teeny tiny wall in front of you, you don't know if you'll be able to pass it. More times than not you will be held in by what looks like a foot tall barrier, the kind of thing even a child can step over without even thinking twice. But not Dominic.

The guns are also frustratingly inconsistent. Seeing as it's the middle of the last century, you can't expect an exciting arsenal of weapons. Instead we get a couple of handguns, a shotgun, a sniper rifle and a Tommy gun. I may not be a gun historian, but it seems a bit odd that I can kill a guy in two shots with my silenced handgun, yet it takes a full clip (40 bullets) to take somebody out with the Tommy gun. I never knew what kind of damage I was going to inflict at any given time, and that's certainly not the kind of thing you want to be thinking about when you are going into battle against two or three dozen enemies.

But even worse than the inconsistent gameplay, the horrible A.I. and the redundant missions, is the fact that the game doesn't even try and capture the magic of the movie. The first game may not have been able to equal Francis Ford Coppola's amazing sense of storytelling and pacing, but at least it tried. This game doesn't even try. Oh sure, you see a few key scenes from the movie play out using polygons and meet a few familiar faces, but they have cut so much of the heart of the movie out that it's practically unrecognizable in this state. This is one of the greatest movies of all time; there is a lot of unused potential on display in The Godfather II.
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