The Godfather PS2 Review
When EA announced they were working on a game to one of the biggest ever movie trilogies of all time, it made a lot of people very happy. Yet some people were slightly worried; could EA really do justice to the masterpiece that is The Godfather? Every man and his dog have their opinion on The Godfather films, and many had differing opinions on how EA would handle such an enormous task. It was important that EA got the game as accurate as possible; this meant getting all big names from the films out to bring their voice to their respected characters. To a certain degree, EA achieved this. They managed to nail the part of Don Vito just before the passing of Marlon Brando. Sadly EA couldn’t get Al Pacino to lend his skills to the task, ironically after he gave permission to appear in the upcoming Scarface movie tie – in. Don’t let that dishearten you as the rest of the game more than makes up for it. On an unrelated note, kudos to EA for the great package the game is provided in, a big box that has a very coffin like appearance on the inside, lending more evidence that this is no ordinary game.
EA could have gone a few ways about this game, and the way they chose to do it was to skirt around the main films. Obviously the game is set in the time of The Godfather films, but for the most part the game takes place away from the action. You start off watching a little cut scene in which you see a loyal associate to the Corleonnes getting riddled with bullet holes. This turns out to be your father, and as the Don tells you, save your anger for the right time. So fast forward a few years, and its time for you to create the character that will take on the masses. This system is quite simple and is a heavily modified version of the gameface system from the Tiger Woods series. This system is quite restricted and only allows you to change the face of your character. If you’re wondering, you are only able to create an Italian – American character. Once you have done this you can suit up your character with some nice threads or you can ‘join the family’.
Once you have selected to ‘join the family’ you will witness a cut scene with the Don and your mother – she is there to ask for his help in keeping you out of trouble. And so begins your long association with the Corleonnes. You will start off doing a couple of training missions to help you get to grips with the controls in the game. The game uses a control system similar to that of another EA title, ‘Everything or Nothing’. There are two methods in which to shoot; ‘L1’ is the auto targeting system where the game will automatically lock on to the nearest enemy, pressing it again cycles though the any other enemies. ‘L2’ is the free aim mode in which you can aim wherever you like, also useful for shooting nearby items such as oil barrels. The D-Pad is used to cycle through your weapons and to holster/re-holster them. This system is not quite as good as it sounds – often you will find it taking a few seconds to pull out your weapon, often costing you a few beatings at the hands of your enemy. If there is a weapon you need to use to take someone out you will often have to run away from your enemy to avoid being hurt while selecting the weapon. Hand-to-hand combat also plays its part in this game using a similar style to Fight Night. You use ‘L1’ and ‘R1′ to grapple and then swing the analogue stick back and through to swing a punch, this works quite well but will take you a while to get use to the swinging motion.
The overall gameplay is very similar to the GTA series, so similar in fact that you would be forgiven for thinking the game was produced by Rockstar. The game features the core set of mission which could take about 10 hours to complete. This is not where the Godfather shines though, the game is absolutely littered with sidequests, and all varying form one to the other. Some involve you getting hit contracts to take certain individuals out, others involve extorting business. This could almost be considered games in itself as there are literally hundreds of business opportunities in which you can take over and gain a cut of the profits, and some are run by rival families in which you need to take out to gain control. Speaking of family, as well as the Corleonnes, there are several other rival families out to take control from New York. Some will stay out your way whereas others will do anything it takes to take you out. As you progress through the game earning respect, your rank will increase. You start of as an enforcer and depending on how much you do depends where you finish. In order to become the Don, you will need to complete a lot more than just the core missions.
The game also features a simple stat upgrade system which you gain points by raising your level that can then be spent on the system that comprises of five categories such as shooting, health and street smarts; it’s a simple system that works well. Most of your time during the game will probably be spent driving; there are about three types of car in the game all accurate to the timeline. The driving mechanics are very simple and work perfectly. Each car handles slightly differently from the other with the bigger cars being terrible to drive. The Godfather world is literally gigantic and can take many minutes to navigate from one place to the other. This is often magnified by the fact that most missions tend to take place in completely different parts, and this can quickly become annoying as you can easily get lost and drift about aimlessly. EA should have made more of the driving missions, as every one in the game is identical and includes driving from point A to point B; as you can imagine this gets very repetitive and boring.
This game is obviously set during the film and we do occasionally see some parts of the film redone by EA. The presentation as whole is very good with the characters likeness all spot on except of course for Michael Corleonne who unfortunately sounds nothing like that of Al Pacino. Borrowing from the GTA series (again), EA also include a hundred secrets which are littered around. These are little film reel icons that unlock actual footage of the films, nice of EA to include this, but they could have eased off the compression as it does slightly spoil the footage.
Visually the game is not bad – being a PS2 game, it’s not going to break records but it’s nice nonetheless. All the characters and cars look realistic and look right for the timeline. Each person in the game varies slightly from the nest so it’s unusual to see people that look alike. The world for the most part is nicely detailed; each little section is different from the last with each area such as Brooklyn having little nuisances that separate it from Little Italy for example. Almost every building you see in the game is accessible, entering them features no load times and is a seamless experience. Almost all areas that are accessible that have back doors and upstairs, if these buildings are businesses’, then some feature upstairs rackets than can be taken over and added to your empire.
The animations in the game are good also; some do get a little repetitive, but I guess there are only so many ways to take out and shoot your gun. One nice touch is the ending executions in the game. Once you have weakened an opponent you can then perform a finishing move. There are many of these in the game and they all differ – there is actually a menu in the game that lists all the moves and how many you have accomplished. One little niggle about the buildings are that some look to similar to others and this is especially true for the interiors, as for all the doors. I can forgive EA for this due to the sheer number of buildings there are, it was bound to repeat some. On the whole, The Godfather is a nice game visually, all the characters look accurate and the cars and surroundings are accurate for the time. The frame rate is steady for the most part and the animations are simple yet effective.
One thing that EA normally triumph in is production values and The Godfather is no different. Hearing the voice of Brando at the start of the game is a great sound, the classic theme tune plays and you feel instantly at home in the mob world. As I have already stated, the loss of Al Pacino is a little disappointing but it’s something that couldn’t be helped. The cars’ featured in the game are also spot on, the sound as a car revs up and changes gear is spot is very accurate to the time. The Godfather is another great production game by EA, as if you thought it wouldn’t.
So as I come to the end of this review, I’m left with a slight hint of disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, the game is really fun – the sheer feeling you get from just knowing your in the world of the Godfather is unbeatable. The game has solid mechanics in both driving and on feet and is great value for money. In its enormous lifespan, the game will easily last you 30 hours as you try some of the other quests in the game such as the hit contracts and the family feuds. Even with all that though, it’s still a case of what could have been. The game has nothing seriously wrong with it; just a few minor niggles that stop it from truly being the game that the film trilogy deserves. The main problem is that the game does get repetitive, the driving missions were a great opportunity to try something different from the on-foot missions, and sadly they all revolve around driving from point A to point B. Each mission is basically the same underneath it all, consisting of you shooting numerous people. That aside, EA has crafted a great world, full of things to do and places to see, I’m sure if Marlon Brando was here he would approve.
8.2 out of 10