The Godfather - 360 - Review
When the game, The Godfather, on the 360 platform first launches, your jaw will drop. Marlon Brando, as the younger Don Corleone, looks like Marlon Brando as the young Don Corleone.
Sure, with a few notable exceptions, this is the same game that launched earlier in the year on current-generation consoles (See GameZone's Xbox review), but on the 360, the game boasts improved graphics, additional levels, some gameplay tweaks, and Xbox Live leaderboards and Achievement listings. You can unlock cinematic moments from the films, key film trailers that not only bring the movie back to life but will remind you just how amazing the game’s graphics are.
About the only character that does not smartly resemble his movie counterpart is Tom Hagan (Robert Duvall). Must be something about his looks that were tough to emulate. As for the other principles, you will be very impressed with the way they all look. (Al Pacino’s Michael has been reworked entirely simply because an agreement could not be reached to put his likeness and voice into this game. If you are married to the film and want this to be entirely the movie experience that may be a drawback.)
For those wishing to know what this game is about, it’s relatively easy – think Grand Theft Auto but inside the movie world of The Godfather. The game essentially takes place in New York between 1945 and 1955. The initial scene takes place earlier with an “acquaintance” of Don Corleone paying his respects to the Don, reminding someone that they need to remember to be grateful to the Don, and then getting blown away by machine guns in an alley. His young son sees the aftermath, and is not only heartbroken, but rather angry. The Don shows up and comforts the boy, telling him that his is not the time for revenge, but that the time will come.
Fast forward to the wedding of Connie Corleone. Luca Brasi is outside the house while inside, the mother of that once boy is pleading with the Don to look after her son. He has taken up with those street thugs and is heading for trouble. The Don agrees and sends Brasi to find the kid. It is at that point that Brasi (bearing the likeness of the movie actor Lenny Montana) takes the kid (played by the gamer) under his wing … well, Ok, it is a short wing span. Luca is killed by Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo and you strike back violently, then have a driving mission to cross town – with the clock ticking – to a safe house.
From that point on, the game takes up a mission-driven pacing with the opportunity to freelance a little outside the missions.
The character creation for this game is not overly deep. But you will be able to customize your character later with new clothes and the like. One of the new elements will allow you, after you level up and attain the rank of Enforcer, to have an underling trail you about – muscle that can help out.
But while the creation scene is good (not great), what is great is the way the game makes your character a part of the main plot moments in the film (based on Mario Puzo’s book, of course). Rather than be sitting watching the scenes unfold, the game exquisitely makes you feel that you are a part of these scenes.
The first few levels are basically a tutorial that instructs you on how to fight, how to level your character and how to navigate this open world.
The combat system has its bright moments and dim ones. You can melee rather well, but grabbing an opponent and slamming him into a wall or other free-standing object will take practice (the game provides it). Still, the animations are very well done and before long you will be grabbing, throwing some body and head punches and then tossing your opponent into an environmental object. EA has thrown some new executable moves into the game’s combat system, to make melee a little more realistic, challenging and entertaining. The targeting system for weapons also requires some work. You can target specific areas of a body with respective damage. Shoot an enemy in the arm and you will cause pain, but not death; aim lower, like the knees, and they will drop to the ground in agony like a bag of concrete. The headshot has the result one would suspect – lots of blood and bodies.
Because the game is predicated on violence, you can expect to lose health, but the game does have some powerups and drops that you can find as you move through the levels. Taking over businesses is a big part of this game, so be prepared to exert the muscle you gather as you level. Some businesses are merely fronts for other operations, and once you control the front, you gain passage to the backside business as well. You can agree, coerce, threaten, cajole, or brutalize those folks into working for you; with the upshot being that your reputation and power grows.
There are about six new missions, drawn from key points in the movies, in this game.
The AI is smart, but not to the point where you will be pounding your head against the handiest environmental object in your gaming space, or yanking out hair, but you may find yourself repeating some areas to either improve your score, rating or time, or because you failed the primary objective.
The sound is pure bliss as well, with few exceptions (see the Al Pacino reference earlier). Special effects are wonderful on the 360 platform and the game will not fail to impress.
While the game is, generally, an upgrade from current-gen console releases, that does not make it any less fun. If you own it on current systems, you may not want to invest in the next-gen game. However, if you do own a 360 and don’t have any other iteration of this title, then this is definitely a solid and entertaining gaming experience.
Review Scoring Details for The Godfather
New moves mean a bit more of a learning curve, but for the results, it is worth the time. The driving elements are not as deep as perhaps they could have been, but that is obviously not the focus of the game. The openness of the world offers a nice variety from merely running missions and following the main story arc.
Special effects, like explosions, and the face mapping of the actors who have given their consent to appear in this version bring the movies to life. This is very much like being part of the movie itself, only you won’t view it as an actor on a set, but rather someone immersed in the world and story.
The learning curve may stymie you initially, and there are also elements that can be gained by repeating levels to get a better result. The Achievements are scattered about and will take time to collect.
This is a next-gen version, but it does play off the general game released earlier this year on current-gen consoles. Still, EA has added elements to this to create a somewhat different experience.
If you haven’t played this game in any other platform release, this is definitely one you should look at. Yes, it has similarities to the GTA model, but the theme provided by The Godfather movies and the way the game integrates you into the famous scenes is startling. This is a venerated movie franchise brought to wonderful life.