The Godfather: Blackhand Edition

Review

posted 4/19/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Wii
When Electronic Arts first released The Godfather on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 there was a lot of doubt whether they could pull off such an ambitious idea. A lot of people have fond memories of Francis Ford Coppola's classic 1972 feature film and the idea of turning it into a Grand Theft Auto-clone felt sacrilegious to many. But Electronic Arts did it; they were able to convince even the most cynical game critics that The Godfather was actually a quality game full of good ideas and solid game play. That was a year ago and since then we've seen the game ported to everything from the PC to the Xbox 360 to the PSP. But just when you thought you had seen this mafia simulator ported to every system imaginable, Electronic Arts turns around and releases the game on two more consoles -- the Sony PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii.
 
The Wii port of The Godfather is known as the Blackhand Edition, but don't let the subtitle fool you, this is essentially the same exact game you saw on all of the other consoles. The only big difference in this game is the way you actually play the game, which is aided by the Wii's crazy motion controls. Outside of the predictable differences we're left with what is a solid action game that you may have already played before. If this is your first experience with EA's rendition of The Godfather then this is a great game to sink your teeth into, but for everybody else there just isn't enough new here.
 
If you've seen the original 1972 movie then you'll feel right at home in the story of The Godfather, this game features the same characters, location and atmosphere found in that award winning feature film. 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 shooting at a bunch of rival families. You basically have two basic ways of attacking in The Godfather; you can use your fists or a weapon, both of which involve you wiggling the Wii's remote control around in interesting (and often fun) ways. The hand to hand combat is definitely my favorite part; you actually have to perform an air punch in order to hit somebody in the game. If you want to jab somebody all you need to do is quickly punch straight ahead, whereas if you want to land a more powerful punch you can bring your arm back and use the Wii's motion sensing control to perform a hook punch. The Wii's remote feels extremely natural in this kind of game and there's something exhilarating about performing the punch motions and seeing the same thing happen on the television screen. I won't say that the fighting control is especially deep, but it's just as advanced as the other versions of the game. Playing The Godfather gives me great hope for the future of the Fight Night series (among other franchises).
 
When you get sick of throwing punches (or your arm cramps up) you can always switch over to a variety of different weapons. One of my biggest problems with the other versions of The Godfather was the gun controls, I just hated the way the camera would lock on to enemies and if you weren't lined up properly you would simply shoot at the floor. Thanks to the Wii's unique control this problem has been completely rectified. While you still have a target button, getting the shot you want is made much easier because you can just point to where you want to shoot and not have to deal with an analog stick. I do still have a few problems with the way EA developed the gun play mechanics, but this is about the best we should expect from this game.
 
One problem that hasn't been addressed is the paltry collection of guns at your disposal. When it comes right down to it there just aren't very many weapons to use, I'm not sure if that's because of the time period the game is set in or if the developers just didn't feel like it was essential to have a lot of different firearms. 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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