Interviews// Godfather Blackhand Producer: Joel Wade

Beyond the common simple punches, players can slam enemies into walls

Posted 12 Mar 2007 14:59 by
Joel
Joel
Electronic Arts is no stranger to developing movie tie-in games, but it surprised a few people when they released the virtual version of The Godfather on PS2, XBOX, PSP and 360 last year. Luckily the game wasn?t too bad and got a good reception ? but EA being, well, EA, has its sights set on more multiplatform opportunities for the Don to adorn. The advent of the Wii and PlayStation 3?s motion sensing devices have meant that Blackhand and Don?s Editions (Wii/PS3 respectively) retain the essence of EA?s previous format releases with some added bells and whistles. SPOnG speaks to Senior Producer, Joel Wade, so you can decide whether his offering is one you can?t refuse.

SPOnG: The Godfather has already been released on several platforms in the past. Will the Blackhand and Don?s editions be the same as these or will it be a brand new game?

Joel Wade: The best way to think of them is like ?director?s cuts? or remixes of the original release? we?ve added an expansion?s pack worth of new mission content, made significant improvements to the core systems, and added dozens of new features. As far as mechanics go, we?re most excited about the new Crew and RPG paths the player can utilize.

In addition to the ability to hire a personal Crew bodyguard as you rise through the ranks, the new Corleone Hit Squad feature has you summoning a four-man squad to watch your back as you venture forth into the more difficult takeovers in the game. Re-tooling the RPG system, we?ve added two new ways to take your character from Soldier to Don. As you earn respect and move up in the family hierarchy, you gain skill points which can then be invested in two independent skill trees- Enforcer or Operator.

Will you follow the violence and intimation path of the Enforcer like Sonny Corleone, investing in firearm, fitness and Blackhand skills? Or will you choose to improve your recruitment, income and negotiation tactics like the Operator consigliore Tom Hagan? The choice is up to you? and investing enough points in the right places can even unlock perks like the ability to set car bombs or pistol-whip your foes.

SPOnG: What improvements have been made to the game since the original release in terms of the game engine?

Joel Wade: One of the advantages of spreading out the releases has been all the additions and enhancements we?ve been able to make to the core engine, as well as being able to take the time to truly optimize for each platform. Some of the key improvements we?ve made include making pursuing cars much more intelligent and aggressive, enhancing the search capabilities and animations of enemy mobsters, and of course completely reworking the controller code for each platform. We?re big believers in committing a large chunk of system resources to the visual effects system, and are especially pleased with how well our fire, explosions, and firearm effects came out. We?ve also spent a lot of engineering time making the lighting as strong as it can possibly be on each system, with dynamic lighting and weather effecting the building and character lighting so you see big changes as the sun sets and the moon rises.

SPOnG: Can you explain a little about the Blackhand feature that forms the namesake of the Wii version, for those who?ve not played the game before?

Joel Wade: The name ?Blackhand? originates from the name of the precursor to the Mafia in the United States; loosely-organized criminal immigrants would prey on and extort their fellow immigrant merchants for protection money. In the game it refers to our combat system, which allows players an extremely wide range of tactics when taking down enemy mobsters or extorting merchants of their own. Beyond the common simple punches, players can slam enemies into walls and tables, perform context-sensitive knees, kicks, and head buts to name a few. Advanced moves can even entail strangling with a garrotte, pistol-whipping, throwing bottles, and tossing people through a window or into oncoming traffic.
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