Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Redwood Studios
Release Date: Fall 2005
They all just make it look so easy, don't they? The mob, that is. Control of underground criminal activities, a reach that spans cities, the power to make or break lives within minutes, manpower to call their own … oh, yeah, it's incredible.
Most movie mobs, however, don't show you the nitty-gritty side of things, just the raids and the gunshots and the thick accents. But what about getting there? Isn't that half the fun?
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither were organized crime empires. There's a lot of work that goes into creating these things and even more involved in upkeeping them. Fortunately, EA's The Godfather, based on the world defined by the movies of the same name, aims to re-educate the world about the fine art of being a crime boss.
From the start of the game, you're placed into the shoes of a new Corleone Family recruit, eager to impress the head honcho, the Don, and do his bidding. The Don's bidding involves tasks that all serve to expand his territory (located in New York), or keep what the family already has. You'll be given tasks such as to give a rival faction a "message" (which often involves plenty of well-placed punches and kicks to the right people at the right times in the right places), to recruiting establishments to your cause, to exposing rival operations such as gambling rings hidden and bringing them under the Corleone Family's control. None of this will be easy, of course, because other families from the films – the Barzinis, the Straccis, the Tattaglias and the Cuneos – will all be trying to get a piece of the Corleones' pie.
Of course, the object of the game is to rise from a nobody to become the Don yourself, and you do that by intimidating the right people, getting information from others, and earning "respect" from the people you meet as well as the company you keep. Do you play nice when trying to negotiate with the local shop owner into giving you a cut of his profits, or barge in punching, choking and shooting? What if he doesn't listen to nice words? Do you bust up his shop? Go straight after him and threaten his life? Or see if he's got anything to hide in his building that you can use to your advantage? The decisions you make affect the outcome of the game's story, and determine just how close you come to achieving your dream of being the flashy movie mob boss you've always wanted to be.
It's not all about playing mind games, though – The Godfather has a combat system that, while a bit rough around the edges at E3, shows major promise. With clever use of triggers, thumbstick clicks and face buttons, your character will be able to go beyond the basic punch-kick combo moves seen in most adventure games. You'll be able to grapple, choke (great for intimidation), and even be able to utilize what EA's calling Pressure Point Targeting, which allows you to hit vital parts on an opponent's body that will incapacitate them, but not knock them unconscious. After all, targets can't give up valuable information if they're sleeping or dead.
Graphically, the 128-bit versions are no slouches, but I may as let all of you know right now that the XBox 360 version looks absolutely incredible. It's a shame that it wasn't playable on the floor, but believe me, once you see this thing in your homes… well, the word "authenticity" doesn't begin to describe what the new technology can do for this – and hopefully other – franchises. The sound and voices are spot-on as well, as talent from the movie such as James Caan, Marlon Brando and Robret Duvall will be providing voice-overs for a good portion of the 20 characters included from the movies.
There are lots of "sandbox" games out there by now, but few of them go about giving the player freedom in such a unique way. Once this game hits, you'll be able to mess with minds and hearts, purely as a matter of fulfilling your own twisted ends. It's premises such as this, using powers that don't involve pyrokinetics so much as a keen mind for making decisions, that make for some fine gaming indeed.
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