The Godfather: Mob Wars - PSP - Review

What can be said about Francis Ford Coppola’s classic mafia epic masterpiece that hasn’t been said before? It’s a story about family, loyalty, love and an undying devotion to a culture rich with pride and great violence. It’s also the story of a mafia crime family and how it was able to suck in the most unlikely candidate for Don. Yeah, it’s a story worthy of the big screen and EA was able to give you a starring role in the game version. While The Godfather: The Game came out for the PS2 and Xbox first, then the Xbox 360 as well, the PSP finally has a version of the game … only there are major differences in the portable version. The Godfather: Mob Wars might follow the console version as far as some of the missions are concerned but it’s not the mafia classic that would make mama proud.

 

Mob Wars is still about a young man who finds himself working for the Corleone family and working his way up the criminal ladder while participating in the film’s most memorable moments. You see, as a child you witness the massacre of your father after your family’s bakery is blown up by a rival family. It is a man you have seen several times before who consoles you and tells you that when the time is right you will have your revenge. This man is Don Vito Corleone and several years later, on the day of his daughter Connie’s wedding, your mother pleads with him to take you in to his family. It isn’t until you see the hulking figure of Luca Brasi that you know you are on your way to becoming a trusted figure in New York City’s major crime family.

Unlike the console version of the game, you don’t get to alter your character’s face or get to dress him in fancy clothes of the era. Instead, you just give him a name and jump into the game’s Story mode missions. It’s impressive to see that the game managed to cram in a good majority of the console’s various missions but then again it also leaves out the Grand Theft Auto-style free-roaming and driving parts. You can’t carjack a vehicle and go explore Little Italy like in the console version. In fact, the missions where you play the role of driver are cut out of the game entirely. What’s left are the action bits where you’re shooting it out with rival mobsters or knocking them around with your fists.

The Story mode missions are the heart of the game because it inserts your character into the familiar settings and events of the film. For instance, you are a witness to Luca’s gruesome murder by Sollozzo in the Sleeping with the Fishes missions and you are there to help Michael protect the Don at the hospital after Don Corleone was shot in the streets. It is you who hides the gun for Michael in the bathroom of the Italian eatery where he finally gets his revenge on Sollozzo and the corrupt McClusky. Of course, this means EA twists the story to their liking, thus remaining true to the main plot while changing the events a little to include your role in the story. You also have your own story - apart from the events of the film - that is touched lightly upon even in the portable version such as your romance with Monk’s sister, Frances.

 

Completing a few missions in Story mode, you’ll be forced to complete another aspect of the game called Mob Wars. In essence, Mob Wars is a turn-based strategy game involving cards and territories. Here you’re dealt cards, each with their own unique category. A Bribe card, for example, allows you to bribe law enforcement officials, therefore giving you an advantage when you’re moving into rival territory. There’s a little close to 250 different cards and you can hold seven cards at one time but the trick here is to use the cards right, discarding those you don’t need and playing the more powerful cards when you really need it. 

Mob Wars can be a bit complex, especially since it involves alliances, truths, and attacks against the likes of the Cuneos, the Straccis, the Brazinis and Tattaglias. In the console version, you can drive to enemy stronghold and businesses owned by rivals and take them over by sheer force and firepower. Here you have to carefully negotiate attacks since the enemy can easily move to your unprotected territory to try to take over your area. From there you can physically take over business (and their illegal fronts) by intimidating shop owners by negotiating with your fists. Taking over strongholds has you running into their warehouses and clearing the building of gangsters. Unfortunately, Mob Wars isn’t fun in that Risk sort of way and you’ll find it such a bothersome aspect of the game you’re forced to deal with in order to finish the game completely.

As far as the controls are concerned, The Godfather: Mob Wars does a somewhat decent job with the game’s controls. You can upgrade your weapons via a “black market” arms dealer you can turn to at the end of a mission and aiming everything from pistols to a Tommy gun works great. The Blackhand controls aren’t as great, mainly because of the PSP’s nub isn’t the best to pull off strangulations or toss a person into an open oven. Another fault comes in the form of the camera that you have to manually turn each time you duck around a corner or decide to move from behind a wall. Worse yet, the game suffers from an unsteady framerate.

 

Graphically speaking, the game is easy on the eyes despite some awful clipping. You’ll marvel at the sight of a young Robert Duval giving you orders or fighting side-by-side with a young James Caan in one mission. They look just as good as the PS2 version, as does the environments. While you won’t get to see the city in its entirety, you get the impression that you’re in New York City during that era. Too bad the camera will often have you looking directly into a wall or through an enemy.

The sound is the game’s real highlight, inserting the film’s beautiful theme music and soundtrack throughout the game. There’s a fair amount of background noise that’s better heard through the PSP’s ear buds such as pedestrian chatter and the soft music of that time playing on the radio. The voice acting is also a highlight mainly because the actors that portray most of the leading characters reprise their roles (well, with the exception of Al Pacino as Michael). You’ll hear Marlon Brando (in one of his final performances); Robert Duval, James Caan and Abe Vigoda voice their characters. It’s good stuff, all right.

The Godfather: Mob Wars for the PSP is an interesting concept in terms of offering something close to the console version while also adding new elements to the gameplay but sadly, it fails to be a fun portable alternative to a good console game. Aside from the game’s many glitches, the turned-based strategy portion of the game just isn’t very fun or inventive. You’re better off sticking to the console version of this game if you’re looking for a decent romp into the world of la cosa nostra.

Review Scoring Details for The Godfather: Mob Wars

Gameplay: 6.2
The game manages to squeeze in all of the non-driving levels from the console version while adding its own secondary game mode that really does not make up for the lack of Grand Theft Auto-inspired exploration. The Mob War strategy portion of the game is an interesting concept but it isn’t much fun. At least the controls are decent.

Graphics: 7.5
Visually, Mob Wars looks really good despite a few awful clipping issues the pop up during cutscenes as well as during levels. It’s good to see how close the character models look to their real counterparts, bringing PSP gamers a game that looks almost just as good as the console version.

Sound: 8.5
The sound is excellent even through the PSP speakers but you’ll want to play the game using earphones to listen to the incredible environmental sounds (cars honking, pedestrians stopping to chat, etc.) as well as the great voice acting and music. Listening to James Caan, Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall reprising their roles is a real treat as is hearing that wonderful soundtrack.

Difficulty: Medium
You’ll be glad for the weapon upgrades because the enemy can overpower you with sheer firepower. The enemies aren’t all too bright but they are bright enough to look for cover. Really, the only real challenge comes from the horrible camera control.

Concept: 6.5
Working your way up in the Corleone family is a dream come true especially for fans of the movie that will get a kick out of running errands for familiar characters like Sonny, Tom Hagen and even Michael Corleone. While the game changes a few story elements - which is a disgrace - it’s fun taking a part in the movie’s memorable scenes. There’s even a few of the movie’s film clips. The Mob War aspect could have been better.

Overall: 6.5
Mob Wars takes us into the world of The Godfather movie but it does very little to offer up a game will hold your attention for very long. While the console versions offer an open world, the PSP version just takes you through the missions as well as the Mob War segment of the game with nothing much to do when you’re done with them. Sorry but this is an offer you should definitely refuse.

Above Average

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