The Godfather II Review
- Posted April 7th, 2009 at 22:03 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Disappointing yet addictive, The Godfather II blends strategy and violence with mixed results and technical inefficiency.
- Intimidating businessmen with a range of violent moves
- The game's strategic element
- Being the Don, ordering people around and smacking people about
- The lack of mission variety
- The bland graphics, blocky animation and technical issues
- The occasionally poor behavior of friendly and enemy A.I.
We weren’t surprised in the slightest to learn that EA’s Redwood Studios houses the development teams for both ‘The Sims’ and ‘The Godfather II,’ because there’s something very “Sim-like” about EA’s latest game in the Godfather franchise. The foundations laid down by ‘The Godfather’ are still here, with the main objective being to swell your power in the criminal underworld by gaining control of local businesses and illegal rackets through violence and extortion. The pace of the game has softened, however. Things have taken a step back somewhat, and now your ability to succeed is dictated by how well you manage your resources just as much as your use of sheer brutality and firepower. A significant proportion of time is now spent flicking through the menus, organizing your crime family, upgrading their skills and using the new 3D map to plot your next move – a host of new features that advance the series from the repetitive gun-play of the original.
There are also some visual clues that 'The Sims' influence has rubbed off on the design of the character models, who saunter around the city streets, chins out straight and arms by their sides, while others dance in the night-spots with the same robotic grace of their Sims brethren. The new style of the Godfather II has taken us a little bit by surprise and as a visual spectacle it rarely impresses, whereas the newfangled gameplay has also taken us a little time to get used to. But, despite being seriously underwhelmed by some of the animation, A.I., and a few technical aspects of the game, the new multi-layered gameplay does manage to draw you right into its murky world of violence and corruption and, for the most part, we’ve had a fairly good time building our criminal empire.
If you can forgive the fact that The Godfather II isn't a patch in terms of open-world map design and presentation of the Grand Theft Auto series (a benchmark for judging this type of game), and you can get past the initial frustration of using the convoluted 'Don’s View' 3D map (you’ll spend a lot of time staring at this planning your strategy), Godfather II does have an addictive element that undoubtedly comes from our inherent greed for earning money and power. Seeing your daily income rise to astronomical proportions and your crime family and stature in the city grow as you make your mark on the city can be extremely satisfying – there's a sense of achievement gleaned from knowing that its your hard work that has paid you significant dividends.
The big difference in terms of storyline, which in this case affects the game as a whole, is that in Godfather II you're no longer a rookie looking to make it big in the criminal underworld. You play a guy named Dominic who is asked by Michael Corleone to take control of New York’s crime organization. It’s a familiar tale of crime, corruption, contract killings and families fighting for their share of the American dream, told in a dark and moody style that mimics the Francis Ford Coppola trilogy, with highly polished cut-scenes and some excellent voice acting that complements the well-penned script. Being in charge is a big responsibility which begins when you start out at the Corleone stronghold where you recruit your first “made man.” The recruitment mechanic works well, allowing you to hire men off the street or from your own businesses and throughout the game you can have them by your side throughout missions or send them off to do your dirty work.
You can control up to three “made-men” at any point in the game. Deciding who joins your family is one of the first tasks that occupies your time on the streets of New York, Miami and Havana. Each potential recruit has a specific skill, be it as a safe-cracker, medic, arsonist or a bruiser, and each has a set of attributes that you can upgrade for a price, such as improving their handgun accuracy or the time it takes for them to recover from injury. You also have to manage their movements by choosing whether you want them hanging around with you, or perhaps sending them ... (continued on next page) ----