It's no secret that The Godfather was coming to the Xbox 360. Back when Electronic Arts first announced the project they mentioned that it would be on every game system under the sun. Yet here we are half a year after the game was released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox finally getting a next generation port of The Godfather. The good news is that this version of the game is just as good as it was on the other systems; it's a solid action game that is well worth going through at least once. Unfortunately it's not much of a next generation title, it may look and sound a little better but outside of a few cosmetic differences there are no reasons to pick this game up over the older, cheaper versions.
If you somehow missed the PS2 and Xbox originals (or simply do not own one of those systems) then prepare yourself for a great action game set in an interesting world full memorable characters. As you have probably guessed already from the title, this is the video game adaptation of the 1972 classic movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It combines 1940s New York City with the tried and true Grand Theft Auto style of game play.
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 living this interactive version.
At first you'll be asked to do simple tasks, usually involving you beating somebody up or delivering something from point A to point B. 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 for all of your attacks(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 considerably 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.
The biggest problem with the gun controls is that if you don't actually aim at something you will shoot your gun straight down at the ground. In a lot of action games if you aren't aiming at something you just shoot straight forward at whatever angle your character is facing, but not in The Godfather. There were more than a few times where I thought I had targeted something but quickly discovered that I was doing nothing more than wasting my bullets by shooting at my feet. Thankfully you can switch to a manual aim mode. This mode actually makes the game feel more like a traditional first-person shooter, which ended up being something I found extremely useful. But even with the manual aim, The Godfather's gun controls just aren't as good as they should be. It's a shame EA wasn't able to address these problems by the time they released it on the Xbox 360.
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 baseball bat 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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