The Godfather

Review

posted 4/6/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PS2

Last year Rockstar Games released a game based on the 1979 cult classic, The Warriors.  It was a game that bucked the trend of disappointing movie games and became one of the best brawlers since the original Final Fight.  Not to be outdone, Electronic Arts has readied a game based on an even older movie with a significantly larger fan base.  I'm talking about The Godfather, the 1972 Francis Ford Coppola movie that managed to win a Best Picture award at the Academy Awards (along with 10 other nominations).

There's little denying the importance of The Godfather, it has spawned numerous mafia movies and influenced everybody from Martin Scorsese to the Sopranos.  But just because you have a great movie doesn't mean you're going to have a great game (just look at Enter the Matrix).  Thankfully The Godfather: The Game does more than a enough right to recommend … but it's not even close to being in the same caliber of the famous movie trilogy.

Instead of playing as one of the movie's central characters, you have a chance to experience life as a brand new player that does not appear in any of the films.  From the very start you have a chance to create your character in the same way you might in one of EA's sports titles (such as the Tiger Woods series).  You start out as nothing more than a grunt, the type of character everybody bosses around; but soon enough you'll be climbing your way up the ladder to eventually become the Don of New York City. 

Despite the appearance of this new character, The Godfather: The Game manages to stay surprisingly close to the source material.  Your character (which you get to name whatever you want) finds himself with a front row seat for just about every key moments in Francis Ford Coppola's epic.  In most cases you'll be the one actually performing the tasks that lead to everything from the famous horse head scene to all of the death sequences that gave the movie its edge.  Although EA did take a few liberties, if you're one of the many fans of the movie chances are you'll have a great time playing this interactive version.

At first you'll be asked to do simple tasks, usually involving you beating somebody up or shooting a bunch of rival families.  The hand to hand combat is a welcome surprise, instead of using the face buttons to jab and punch you use the right analog stick (similar to how you control your fighters in EA's popular Fight Night series).  This keeps the combat interesting, allowing you to perform a number of powerful attacks that are a lot of fun to control.  Along with the standard hand to hand fighting you can also strangle enemies and even push them off of tall buildings.

On the other end of the spectrum is the gun play, which is easily the worst part of The Godfather.  In a lot of ways The Godfather's aim mechanics are similar to Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto series, except that here they are much worse.  You hold one of the shoulder buttons to aim and then you hope that the auto aimer points to the correct enemy.  More times that not you will accidentally aim at the wrong guy which leaves you open to all kinds of cheap hits.  Switching between the enemies is also extremely difficult, something that gets in the way of the fun late in the game when the difficulty is ratcheted up.  This gun play, while bad, is still manageable, but it's a shame they weren't able to improve this one aspect before releasing the game.

Along with the disappointing aiming you may also find that there aren't as many weapons as you might have hoped for.  There is your standard fare, such as a tommy gun and a shotgun, as well as a few alternate weapons, like a lead pipe and Molotov cocktails.  When these weapons stop being as effective as they should you can hit up the back-alley arms dealer and upgrade them a couple of times.  There may be fewer guns to play with, but in a lot of ways you can still cause the type of chaos that made games like Grand Theft Auto so popular.

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