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.