reviews\ Apr 6, 2009 at 8:00 pm

The Godfather II - PC - Review

It’s a tale of two cities … make that three cities … with recurring themes and characters, but at the heart of it all, you are the ‘Don’ out to carve an empire in the name of the Corleone family.

The Godfather II is the franchise sequel to the 2006 EA title, but rather than mirror the events of the initial movie, in Godfather II, you run an alternate course that will have you carving out your own territory, building up your own family and becoming the don that Michael Corleone needs to clear out his enemies. The role is not exactly from the films, but it is an attempt to allow players to feel more part of the story.

And that works, to a certain degree. Unfortunately the game bogs down in repetitious tasks, and sub-par driving mechanics, even while tracing the rise of a crime empire through New York, Miami and Havanna.

Havanna is the first setting and acts like a tutorial to get you used to the character interaction and the combat as well as setting up the overall story arc.

On the eve of New Year’s 1959, revolutionaries succeeded in overthrowing the Cuban government and taking control of the country. This comes just as the families have moved into the country with the idea of establishing their empires there thanks to the friendly government. As the game begins, Hyman Roth has declared the revolutionaries not much of a threat and that the families will get very rich by working with the government. Your boss (you can create a character named Dominic with a bit of customization possible) is part of the celebration, as are Michael and Fredo Corleone. But in the middle of the countdown to the new year, the government announces that the revolutionaries have won. This, of course, begins wide-spread panic as people decide they must flee the country. Your first job within this tutorial setting is to get the Corleones to the airport. When almost to the plane, a sniper kills your boss, Aldo. On the plane ride back to the states, Michael explains that there are few he can trust, but Dominic falls into that category. In fact, Dominic is the one Michael has chosen to take control of New York. With the disaster in Cuba, a lot of families will be vying for a piece of the Big Apple.

It is a large task, but the game helps you get organized. The initial quests are directed and introduce you to what will be your best friend in the game – the heads-up display known as the Don’s View. Through this interface you can direct all your operations, from upgrading skills, to assigning soldiers and lieutenants to trouble spots within your empire, and so on. It’s really quite convenient and makes the whole experience a bit easier.

Soon enough, players will find themselves in a sandbox setting, where they will have to contend with a mini-map system that is far from convenient and driving mechanics that are clunky and generally not very well thought-out.

While there is an overriding story arc, players have a lot of latitude in how you approach the tasks. You initially take over a front for a whore house, but after that, you can cut into a rival’s business in any way you see fit.

The game uses some arcade mechanics in a third-person shooter setting, with pick-ups available from fallen enemies. And you can always go into melee mode and beat an opponent to death. What you take will anger the ones you take it from and they will not sit idly back and allow you to run roughshod over their territory. Taking over a business that is a front for a family is not overly complex. You approach the person in charge, find their weak spot (through threats or physical violence), apply just enough pressure to get them to crumble and then take over. That means more income and more income means you can hire more soldiers, promote some to lieutenants and upgrade skills.

The stagnated gameplay starts to surface a bit as you move into the game. It becomes a repetitious affair to take over businesses and then defend the inevitable retribution. And getting the business can be a laborious affair. The mini-map is not overly helpful and if you can decipher the map and the location is close enough, running there (as opposed to driving) is preferable.

Graphically, The Godfather II is Ok; it is definitely not about to challenge high-end cards (two different machines were used to play this game, one with an nVidia 9800 GTX Black card and another with twin ATI 4870s) and while the character models are decent, there is general clunkiness with rotating to face new attackers and some of the movements seem a bit stilted.

There are characters that are instantly recognized from the movies and others that are not. That holds true for the voice action. Some of the movie actors have lent their voices to this game and others have not. The musical score is very rich and includes composer Nino Rota’s classic theme. The score varies, depending on the action – and there is a lot of action in this game – and keeps the pacing feeling right.

The game has some good moments, moments that feel very repetitious and moments that are a bit frustrating. Those expecting to follow events from the film will be disappointed; those looking for a gangster/empire-building game set against the backdrop of the Godfather films may find this a decent diversion.

Review Scoring Details for The Godfather II

Gameplay: 7.0
The control scheme is decent enough but the game bogs down in repetition and irritations when it seems you are defending the same turf over and over. Driving mechanics make that element a real pain, especially when you are trying to outrun enemies.

Graphics: 7.0
The game’s graphics won’t challenge a higher-end system. Some of the animation is a bit rough, but generally the characterizations are nailed down.

Sound: 7.5
The voice acting, at times, sounds a bit forced, but is generally solid. The musical score is very nicely done.

Difficulty: Medium

Concept: 7.3
The dev team did a nice job in creating an alternative parallel adventure within the world of the Godfather. There are enough of the characters from the movie to make it feel like you are an active part of the movie even though you are forging your own story in that world.

Overall: 7.0
The game could almost be called the Good, the Repetitious and the Ugly. Some elements are well done and some are not. Still, this is not a bad game, by any means. There are some immersive elements and you do, at times, feel like you are part of the world. The graphics could have been better, though, and some of the game mechanics could have been improved upon.


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