Electronic Arts Redwood Shores revisits Coppola’s Godfather series by releasing the second edition of the Godfather. Improving and expanding upon the first title, players will have the chance to call the shots as the Don of this virtual world. Roll up the benjamins! It's time to hit the town, Corleone style!
The Godfather II continues with the ideas that where brought forward in the original game and expands on the universe set up by the Godfather films. Like the first Godfather game, The Godfather II doesn’t follow the plot line of the film; it gives the player the freedom to do whatever they wish in this open world sandboxed game. It’s all about taking over rackets while setting up your family as power players in the mafia world. This could deter some new comers who are looking for a movie-to-game experience, but for all those who are simply looking for a fun game, you're in luck. What the Godfather takes from the film is the use of a few key players and the same classic feel and look to the film. Most Godfather fans shouldn't be disappointed because the Godfather II is pure gaming fun as it plays up the daydream fantasy of becoming the ultimate Don.
Like Electronic Arts first run at the Godfather, The Godfather II isn’t perfect, but it is a solid title. The Godfather II isn’t as polished as 'Grand Theft Auto IV', and it is definitely not as zany and content filled as 'Saints Row 2', but for what it does, it does an admirable job. In comparison, The Godfather II falls into its own little niche that showcases what being a "gangster" was like when the world was a simpler place. After watching countless movies that glorify the mafia lifestyle, it is effortless to get into the role of being a made man in the Godfather II. Even if you’re not a fan of the Godfather films, there is a lot to get into. If you enjoy open-world action games and the thought of controlling your own family then there is still as shot that you'll like the game.
Meet the New Don
In the Godfather II you will take control of Dominic, who after a horrible turn of events in Cuba gets handed the reigns by Michael Corleone to start up your own family. In New York, and down to the warm climate of Miami, you will work along side a number of powerful families as you slowly establish a strong presence as the new Don in town. Then it’s a long drawn out checkers game of systematic dismantling the other families’ power until you can march onto their compound and take them down in a hail-fire of bullets and explosives.
More Than Muscle
Besides pure muscle you will need to outsmart the enemies by systematically taking out their establishments. Gaining control isn’t a 1-2 deal; it is usually a hip-hop match going back in forth until you pressure them down. The first key move in the Godfather II is to build up your family by finding the right members who will provide new specialties and benefit your crew. In the beginning you’ll start with one recruit and as you work your up to a total of 7 made men. Besides having your own crew, you will be able to upgrade their skills, abilities, and status within your family. After promotions are handed out your party starts expanding you’ll really get a feeling of how being a Don feels.
Once your family starts to fill up and you have taken a number of rackets under your belt you can think about assassinating the other families made men, or trying to get a crime ring doing, basically a monopoly on one type of racket. Holding crime rings grants the player a bonus like bullet-proof vests, or expanded ammunition belts. Having a few rings under your belt is a pure sound strategy to getting the upper hand on your enemies. Aside from taking away the bonus from them, you will gain new strengths to help your family.
Uh, Things Get a Little Wonky
The mechanics of gunning down your enemies, and controlling your mob isn’t fleshed out as it could have been. Lots of times you will notice your men be caught up on walls, or standing directly in front of friendly fire, they even have the tendency to teleport. These minor bugs are a little annoying at times, but it never directly ruins the game. For the most part auto-targeting enemies and blowing them to bits is fun... even if both sides of the A.I. are a little wonky. Along with strict ranged attacks you can get close and personal with a blunt weapon, or your fists. Like the original Godfather, you have the ability to grab your enemy and toss them around, along with special one-button executions for each weapon.
Apply the Pressure
Taking over rival fronts is done in a same way as the first game. Bust into the location, find the owner and then extort the business in your families’ name. Owners can be threatened in a number of ways to work out a bonus, and like the first game, you’ll need to stay in control and never push the line. Take an interrogation too far and you might kill the owner and be out of luck, well, until they re-spam into the same. Taking over fronts also gives you a chance to think about your approach to see if you want to sneak around the back, use a demolitions expert to blow a hole in the wall, or cut the power and then take them by force. Each location usually offers up all three approaches, if not one or two which makes this repetitive task become more interesting.
If The Don was a Bird
Helping you manage all things mafia there is the Don's View. The don view is an overview top down, 3D map that shows you the city your are in and all the important locations. From here you can check out each building and find out how many guards are at a location, who controls it, and if you own the building a few more details about the income. You can also find out the locations of other objectives like marked men, favours, informants, etc... The Don View is extremely important and a significant upgrade. Thinking back, I could have really used this in the first Godfather game. You might have heard the term real-time strategy being pinned down, the Don View slightly feels like this, but in no way does the Godfather II play out like a RTS.
I'm Finished, Now What?
One minor setback in the Godfather II is what to do after you finished the game? Since there are no alternative difficulty levels to jump up to, or enemies to face, you’ll likely pack it in. This is different then the majority of open-world games where there is lots of other activities to fool around after, and while you’re in the main game. Although, the main focus drives your attention down the barrel, it would have been fantastic if Redwood could have included some extra curricular activities offline.
The Crew is Headed Online
At the end of it all, you likely hit up a few team deathmatches online, but don’t expect miracles in this area. The Godfather II online is nothing special, even though it tries. Online is supported for 16 players and hosts four modes where you can play as one of the members from your campaign’s crew, or enter the game as a Don. In an interesting twist you can earn honour points online that allow you to upgrade your weapon licenses for your crew. As the Don you will control a camera that flies above the map allowing you to help out your team by dropping perks down to them. It’s not too much fun, and you can’t even zoom down to the action. Being the Don is not fun at all online and was a good stab at something that doesn’t work. Online the Godfather II isn’t going to hold your attention for too long, expect to be disappointed.
When Did NYC Shrink?
While I have the complaint box open, the city size is too small compared to the size of New York in the original game. Combining the three locations in the Godfather II is the only way you can rival the size. For some reason it felt like there was more to do in the old game. In the first Godfather there where more locations to take over, they might not have been as dynamic, but still in numbers it feels like more. Money also helped out a bit more as you could purchase new safe-houses, or extort hotels and use them as safe houses. Taking over NYC in the Godfather II didn’t seem as rewarding.
Everyone Knows Something About Everyone
Lastly, the concept of soliciting random pedestrians to learn about made-men is ridiculous. They should have come up with some other way to incorporate this into the game. I have no problem about random citizens asking for help as randomly generated side missions, like the ones to earn more cash. However, how would beating up some lady for a random guy on the street give me the inside scoop on an upper level Capa? This and a few of the other random missions have you wondering what’s going on. Especially when you have to go into your own place of business and smash it up! I little bit of code to exclude the business you own from those missions would have been enough. I would say Godfather II on a whole has been rushed out the door; however certain parts make you think they could have stayed in the shop a few more months.
The Godfather II might be a little sloppy in its execution, but its intentions mean well. Depending on what you expected out of EA’s follow-up to the Godfather, you could be disappointed... or by the same means, ecstatic. The Godfather II expands on the original, and while it’s more of a well rounded experience, some things are missing. EA Redwood didn’t take any chances in this one, playing it safe, fans of the original should know what you're instore for with the sequel.
The Godfather II will proably be considered mild upgrade from the first game which means it's a lot of mindless fun. Your adventure as the Don of your own family might only last 12-14hrs, but that whole time you’ll likely be having a great time becoming the king of the mafia world. The Godfather II should be on the top of your list if you're a fan of Mafia styled films, or open-world gangster games. If you've been on the sidelines about this one, maybe a solid week rental would be enough to explore the world of explotation, demolition, and inner-family politicians. Either way, The Godfather II is worth a look. How do you say "banana daiquiri"?
Gameplay:8, Graphics:7, Sound:8.5, Innovation:7, Mojo:8.5 Final: 7.8 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 04.10.09