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The Godfather Review

publisher: EA
developer: EA
genre: Action

PIV 1400, 256MB RAM, 5GB HDD, 64MB video card
ESRB rating: M

release date: Mar 14, 06
» All About The Godfather on ActionTrip

EA recently unveiled plans to introduce more innovative video game concepts to the market. Okay, let's not kid ourselves, they're still gonna keep those well-established franchises coming, including movie-based games as well as the everlasting titles from EA Sports' FIFA, NHL and NBA series.

After securing publishing rights for an action game inspired by Coppola's legendary movie, The Godfather, EA sought to present its own variation of the much exhausted living-the-life-of-a-gangster game concept. Unfortunately for EA, Coppola tarnished the game after playing the preview build several months ago. He said that Electronic Arts never even consulted him on the project and he openly admitted that he disapproves of the game. Still, I think it's safe to assume most of you are prepared to overlook Coppola's view on the game. Also, this didn't seem to bother the publisher much either. To them it was just another bump on the road.

First of all, the story's fundamental elements are, for the most part, based on the movie plot. This comes off rather well in the game, particularly in terms of how your character fits into the whole business of the Corleone family. At first, your task will be to carry out a few "minor chores". In the process you get to learn the ways of the street, gradually working your way up the ladder of crime. Your goal is to cruise through the neighborhood and create a name for yourself. You're pretty much penniless at the beginning, so you'll need to snatch some greens and earn a decent reputation in order to improve your rank within the family. This won't be any easy job.

I have to hand it to EA for creating a highly detailed character customization system. Players are allowed to alter everything on their avatar, from the color of his eye brows, right down to the shoes on his feet. If you have the patience for it, you can easily tweak the character's look to suit your own appearance. Everything you do in the game is far more rewarding that way (that's how it was for me anyways).

Once you hit the streets, there's plenty to do. The game offers a variety of plot-related missions, as well as a range of errands to help you gain money and respect. In any case, when it comes to crime, this game has it all; from extorting businesses and harassing shopkeepers, to robbing banks and buying equipment from black-market street dealers. From time to time, you even get to flirt with a few dames (just to show to everyone that you can be a charmer as well). Completing missions can also unlock excerpts from Coppola's movie - that way players can find out more about some of the main characters.

Initially, I was quite surprised with the open-ended gameplay. Frankly, I expected the game to be a lot more linear. The City of New York is vast, so you can be sure there will be a places to go, people to see and crimes to commit. Yep, it's all about crime, baby. Hell, if that's what it takes to prove you're one of the family, then so be it. Besides, in most cases, you'll stumble upon corrupted police officers and crooks that clearly deserve to be threatened, bashed about or thrown off roof-tops. I also enjoyed numerous classic moments that were incorporated as a tribute to the movies. For instance, in a certain mission your job is to assist a colleague as he places a stallion head into the bed of a business acquaintance who refused to cooperate. They also threw in the memorable scene which depicts an attempt to take the Don's life (it's all there, even the oranges).

Not all missions require extortion and brute force. In some situations, players are required to take a more tactical and stealthy approach to completing their family duties. But even stealthy missions can get messy, so you are advised to pack as much ammo and weapons as you can carry. Long range and melee weapons are plentiful and as you progress, you'll be able to get your hands on a considerable arsenal. You'll get to use Tommy guns, shotguns, various types of handguns, baseball bats, etc. Shooting takes a bit of getting used to, but once you master it, there won't be any problems.

From our experience, the AI worked okay throughout most of the game. Occasionally, however, opponents rush unwittingly towards you, giving you a chance to kill them at close range. Then again, they can also lurk behind corners and just sit there forever until you decide to pay them a visit. It's really irritating sometimes and it will surely annoy most of you.

The visuals have obviously improved significantly from what we've seen in the console versions (PS2 and Xbox). Some of the familiar characters look quite convincing. Plus, as you move around the city districts (everywhere from Little Italy to Brooklyn), you'll notice that the designers paid close attention to every detail in order to create an authentic urban atmosphere. The entire city has that distinctive feel of the 40's and 50's and each and every building looks pleasing to the eye. Sadly, the car models lack more details and additional polys. The same thing goes for indoor sections, which apparently suffer from poor texture patterns. As you enter buildings and stores, it becomes self evident that the developers didn't invest half the time and effort that was poured into bringing outdoor areas to life. Also, for no apparent reason, the frame rate got choppy now and then at certain points in the game, which was definitely disappointing during gameplay.

Regarding the audio, EA made some pretty cool moves. Every step of the way, players are accompanied by the Nino Rota's memorable Godfather theme, which is still regarded as a masterpiece amongst musical achievements in movie history. Not to mention numerous celebs, including the talented voices of the late Marlon Brando, Robert Duval, James Caan and others. It's a shame though, that Al Pacino refused to donate his voice to the character of Michael Corleone. The character does appear in the game, but with completely different looks and a different actor lending the voice to Michael Corleone. Gamers will surely object to this, since the existing character kind of stands out from the rest of the celebrity crowd.

In a nutshell, there's a lot you can get out of this game and it may take you quite a while to complete it. The idea is to establish your character as a reputable crime lord that demands respect and obedience from others. The environments are unrestricted, leaving plenty of room for players to explore and set up their businesses. Certain visual glitches and AI weaknesses, may cause some frustrations along the way. Also, it goes without saying that a majority of gamers will see this one as a crossover between Mafia and GTA. Hence, it's not innovative in any way. The type of gameplay has been seen a millions times before. Its sole advantage is that it relies on an extremely powerful narrative, backed up by a serious cast and admirable music. It's all about car chases, street shootouts, controlling diverse rackets and respecting fellow family members. The game may not convey the remarkable atmosphere from the movies, but it does manage to stand on its own in some way.


8.0   Very Good

Working your way up the ladder of crime, pleasing visuals, celebrity voiceovers, huge city districts, open-ended gameplay, good story;

It isn't anything we haven't seen before, for some reason the frame-rate tends to get choppy, AI hitches, vehicle models and physics.



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