|The Godfather (2006)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
UPDATE: The next generation is finally here with updated versions of "The Godfather" now available for both the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3. Titled "The Blackhand Edition" (Wii) and "The Don's Edition" (PS3), respectively, both versions now feature the ability to hire and entire hit squad, as well as additional content not seen in previous editions of the game. While the PS3 version looks much better than it's competition, the Wii's motion-centric controls take the cake as the coolest aspect on any of the three next-gen consoles. Plus, just getting to see blood and hear explicit language coming out of the Big N's tiny white box is more than enough reason to double dip.
Is it just me or are video games based after movies getting better all the time? First we got the stunning take on “The Warriors” last year, and now EA has dropped “The Godfather: The Game” into our laps, with mainly excellent results. Perhaps companies have just started to care about a movie license getting turned into a game. Or maybe we’re just damned lucky. Either way, “The Godfather” comes out on top, marking it as one of the only successful “GTA” style games to come along in a long line of really crummy games that never seem to get that formula right.
Now, movie fans beware: “The Godfather: The Game” isn’t a strict replay of the classic movie by any means. A lot of the movie’s moments just wouldn’t have translated into what’s going on here, but you do get a nice balance of old classic movie and new game storyline here. What’s more, you even get Marlon Brando doing the voice of Don Corleone. That’s quite the feat for EA, and it works like a dream, unlike the shambolic mess that was Sean Connery appearing in the “From Russia With Love” game. On the flip side, you don’t get Al Pacino as Michael, which does suck, as that role is now severely lacking, but you have to take the good with the bad here, and really, in the end, the game is much more than the sum of its parts.
Players get to create their own mobster, who will eventually work his way up through the Corleone family and hopefully take over Brando’s position fully. What’s really nice about the character creation system in the game is that you can change what your player looks like every time you boot up the disc. It’s more than just changing clothes and whatnot, too, as you can actually go back in and change facial features and the whole nine yards if you like. You can buy new clothes and hair styles with money you find in game as well.
Gameplay is set in a free roaming New York City with all of its surrounding neighborhoods. This is exactly the game that the failed “True Crime New York City” wanted so desperately to be. Players can hijack cars on a whim and each car behaves differently, but they all turn nicely. No boxy 90 degree curves here, and that’s always nice. New York City is faithfully represented fully and looks like it did back in the time the game is set. You’ll be doing plenty of driving and driving missions in the game, but unlike other titles of this ilk, these parts don’t ever tend to get boring.
Game combat is achieved through either a variety of guns, bombs, Molotov cocktails, and the like, or through the unique BlackHand hand-to-hand combat mode. EA developed this system to give gamers the feeling that the controller was an extension of their own hands, and not just have a mind numbing button mashing experience. That means, you “swing” the analog sticks to throw your punches. You push down on both sticks to strangle your victims. You pull up and down on the sticks and push them from side to side to drag, slam, kick, and pull the bad guys in whichever way you like. It’s a smooth fighting engine and for the most part is a complete success. There are a couple moments, though, where you need to drag an opponent off a ledge of throw him in a fire, and the action is easier said than done. Still, the BlackHand system is unique and gives players a lot to do with their controllers rather than the same old same old.
The game’s visuals are really nice, and the character models look super, with the voice sync perfectly matched. Again, this is the kind of quality you get when a company takes its time to really work on a game and not just rush it out to make the money. The audio and soundtrack is also superb, with the famous “Godfather” theme making the rounds. What’s most important, though, is that everything mixes together brilliantly and leaves the gamer actually caring about the various characters in the game, which is also an oddity these days.
In all, “The Godfather: The Game” is one of those titles that will undoubtedly thrill fans of the movie and games in general alike. You don’t have to have seen the movie to get into this one. Save for a few minor quips, the whole affair is a rousing success and it’s very nice once again to see a movie get translated into a fun and deeply involving game. Hopefully this trend will continue and the days of the crappy old video games based on movies will just be a thing of the past.