movies are a cultural phenomenon, many people who do not think Citizen Kane
is the greatest movie ever made think that The Godfather
is. It gets an incredible 9.1 on IMDB user ratings, placing it as the number two movie, but this time behind The Shawshank Redemption
. But, and get this, The Godfather: Part II
places third, immediately behind it in the eyes of IMDB readers the world over. The laughable The Dark Knight
places sixth though, so maybe their opinion is nothing to go on.
movies deal with epic themes: loyalty, passion, greed, brutality, ambition and most importantly of all... honour. And the games do not fall far from the same tree.
When the game hit my desk, I was less than enthusiastic - I have not seen the first two movies, nor had I played Mob Wars
or Don's Edition
or indeed the Wii's Blackhand Edition
. Indeed, I only saw the third movie because I was taken to a screening by US Gold to celebrate the launch of the 1992, best forgotten, Amiga version
. (46% in Amiga Format
magazine, by the way).
Although it is widely considered to be vastly inferior to its two prequels, I still feel warmly towards The Godfather: Part III
(movie), since it was the first ever press screening or première I ever attended. IMDB users however, give the third movie a pitiful 7.6 - a towering achievement for most movies, but a dismal failure for a The Godfather
movie. In short, I can barely be considered to be a The Godfather
But when the editor tells you to review a game, you have to at least give it a cursory examination, if only to better help you conjure credible reasons for why you should not review it. And so it was that I sat down to play Godfather II
. The name is especially apt because not only is this game the sequel to the 2006 game which was based on the first movie, but it is also a gamification of the second movie.
The first thing that happens as you begin the game is that you enter the Mob Face section, where you can use tools that will be familiar to anyone who has played any EA Sports game in order to customise your character. A fairly serious failing of the 360 version is that it is easy to accidentally commit your changes before you have finished, and once I did I could not easily (or at all, in fact) find a way to return to the character editor. So, with a Dominic Corleone that looked more like Luke Duke, I set about playing the game.
The first scenes take place on what we must assume is New Year's Eve 1958 in Havana, Cuba... a city which (in an allusion to Meyer Lansky's Hotel Riviera) the mobsters point out has bigger hotels than any of them have so far managed to build in Vegas. The New York Families have brokered a deal with President Batista to take control of the Cuban underworld and divide up the spoils. This will result in a period of peace and harmony between the bitterly feuding Families. But as they celebrate their impending victory, Fidel Castro's rebels invade the city, and the mobsters are forced to make their escape to NYC, where their typical rivalry comes back to the fore.
Initially, as you run and shoot your way out of Cuba, The Godfather
seems like a typical third-person shooter. However, as you begin to explore the free-roaming sandbox environment of New York city, it becomes clear that the game has more in common with Grand Theft Auto
. GF II
drives forward the narrative with game-engine cut scenes that result in you having an non-stop linear sequence of missions to undertake.
At first, following these acts as a great tutorial system for what is, it must be said, a reasonably complex game from a control system perspective. But the evolving gameplay mechanics hide the increasing complexity of the controls behind a veneer of sophistication that makes them appear simple.