The Godfather – PS2 – Review

As you play
outside your family’s bakery one day during a sunny afternoon in your
neighborhood that is Little Italy, your father’s bakery suddenly blows up and
your parents are being roughed up by a couple of men who think they can mess
with the neighborhood. Your old man introduces them to his fists but a man is a
new suit mutters something to your father as his two goombas open fire, riddling
your father with bullets. You see your father’s crumbled body but somebody grabs
you. It’s Don Vito Corleone. He’s somebody your father always respected and
feared and he tells you that one day you will have your revenge. This is how
EA’s The Godfather The Game opens and makes you the star of a game that put you
in the Academy Award-winning first film in the trilogy.


It’s 1940 and
the Corleone family is celebrating the wedding of the Don’s daughter, Connie. It
is also the day Sicilian men of influence cannot refuse a favor so this is the
day your mother goes to the Don and asks him to take you under his wing, so to
speak. Luckily, his new trusted ally, Luca Brasi, is present and the Don asks
him to find you and make you an unofficial member of the Corleone clan. While
you are essentially an outsider, this is an offer you can’t refuse and thus
begins your start from outsider to Don of New York City.

You begin the
game by creating a character from scratch using the Mob Face feature that’s a
lot like the Game Face feature in EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour. It’s as deep
as the feature can get seeing as the character you create mainly has
Italian-American features. You can even dress your character up in a various
number of apparel choices from suits to what kind of shirts and ties you would
like your character to wear during the game. You can always go back and add more
clothing options and change hairstyles. From there you begin your quest to rise
from the ranks to become a made man and a true ally to the Corleone family that
has taken you in as their own. 

You start by
performing simple tasks from recognizable figures within your new family. You’ll
be walking to a barber shop, for example, and pressuring the owner to give the
family a cut in exchange for protection. Of course, putting on the pressure
means you will be using intimidating methods like, say, grabbing the owner and
slamming him up against the wall or his own cash register until he finally sees
the light and accepts. The game introduces an intimidation meter much like the
one in True Crime: New York City so if you get too rough you might not end up
with nothing. Of course, some businesses are just fronts for illegal activities
that occur in back rooms. There is usually a person you can buy out and then the
location becomes Corleone territory.  

Of course, the
Corleones are not the only family in New York City’s five boroughs; you will
have the Brazini, Stracci, Cuneo, Sollozzo and Tattaglia families to deal with
as well. You will find each family on the playing map and you can attempt to
take over their territory at any time during the game. Of course, push a family
too far and you will have a gang war on your hands that is not only time
consuming but also requires a lot of money and weapons. You can always bribe
police officers and even FBI agents to put an end to the war sooner, though.


When it does
come down to violence, you’ll find that your character can easily go
face-to-face against an enemy. The fighting style is similar to EA Sports Fight
Night franchise in that the analog sticks are used for blocking as well as
punching. The game also uses Blackhand Attacks that are basically violent
finishing moves that either have you executing enemies by breaking their neck,
strangling them to death or using environmental objects that happen to be
around. You can go as far a push an enemy off a roof, into an oven or into
oncoming traffic. Not only is this an interesting way to perform unique combat
moves but it makes for a more visually impressive action.

You will also
have a number of weapons at your disposal. Aside from melee weapons like
baseball bats and lead pipes, you will have shotguns, various pistols, Thompson
guns and dynamite and Molotov cocktails. Weapons can be upgrades by finding gun
merchants as well as your shooting skill (more on that in a bit) but this
actually doesn’t help the weakest aspect of the game – the shooting. The problem
lies with the targeting system that often does not target the closest threat.
This often has you shooting an enemy way in the back while the enemy a lot
closer to you gets to shoot you dead. Sometimes you might even target innocent
bystanders. Luckily there’s a precision shooting feature that allows you to aim
manually and this helps a little.

The beauty of
The Godfather is that it brings to life a New York City of an era long gone but
fondly remembered in the movie. You can drive from Little Italy to New Jersey
without having to pause for a load time (in fact, the load times in this game
are very short) and you will also be able to visit Hell’s Kitchen, Brooklyn and
the impressive Midtown. Driving is another aspect of the game that is handled
somewhat good and somewhat bad. The good part is that vehicles, including pickup
trucks and old sedans, drive quickly. The bad part is that these cars can stop
on a dime, make smooth turns and are hardly stopped by a thick lamp post but
running over a person makes the vehicle almost come to a dead halt. These
unrealistic elements do take you out of the game. 

As far as the
game’s missions are concerned, the game’s main story missions place you in
various situations that lead to the most memorable scenes of the movie. When Don
Corleone is shot it is you who Fredo Corleone asks to drive behind the ambulance
to protect his father from chasing assassins. You are also there when assassins
are sent to the hospital to finish off the Don, helping the Don’s other son,
Michael, protect his father. You are there when Luca Brasi is killed and after
Sonny is massacred in the Jersey tollbooth, it is you who the Don requests to
tie up loose ends. The game essentially changes various aspects of the movie,
something fans of the classic might not like at all. Still, with an original
story that revolves around you and your need for revenge, the various missions
you’ll participate in are actually very entertaining indeed.

The fun part
comes in the side missions that have you working under people like Salvatore
Tessio. Tessio’s missions mainly have you performing a hit on various different
crooks and undesirable men that are becoming a problem to the Don. You can rob
the local bank, enter a rival’s warehouse to claim in the name of the family and
you can even beat up local thieves in the bad part of the neighborhood and
relieve them of their stolen cash. In doing so you earn respect points good
towards upgrading skills like shooting, health, speed, fighting and street
smarts. The more respect you gain, the higher you climb in the mafia ladder. You
will get a phone call from Tom Haden (Robert Duvall) who will give you new ranks
in the family until you become a made man. You’ll even impress Sonny Corleone
(James Caan), who is a hard man to impress.


Graphically, The
Godfather is not as stunning as the Xbox version of the game. It does manage to
display some really impressive visual features like New York City in the day as
well as night. The character models, even the minor players, look good up close
but the star of the show is really how wonderful they rendered James Caan,
Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall as well as characters like Fredo and Luca Brasi.
The effects are handled nicely as well. Car crashes look brutal, gunfire looks
amazing and explosions will not fail to put a smile on your face.

As for the
game’s sound, it is another great feature. The main theme music is played
throughout the game and it never gets old. There’s also original voice work here
from the late Brando as well as Caan, Duvall and Abe Vigoda. Their original
voice recordings add a lot to the story and the dialogue is actually
well-written. The street sounds are also a highlight and it does a brilliant job
of bringing the city to life. While pedestrian comments are highly repetitive,
it is fun hearing them respond to you as you climb up the criminal underworld

When all is said
and done, The Godfather is not the true masterpiece it was meant to be but it is
a good game that gives fans of the movie the opportunity to be a part of the
saga. With a excellently written story, a strong cast of unforgettable
characters and quite a number of interesting missions, this is a PS2 game well
worth your attention. For those who have been waiting for a true mafia classic,
this is really the game to buy. Either way, missing out on this game would be
the real crime.

Review Scoring
Details for The Godfather The Game

Gameplay: 8.0
The mission
structure is really quite interesting even if the game does rearrange the plot
of the movie and the freedom to ignore the main plot to rob a bank, rub out
goombas or storm a rival family’s illegal warehouse is a true joy. The
face-to-face fisticuffs are handled beautifully but the shooting could have been
handled a bit better. Driving is just as good as the GTA series even with the
classic clunker vehicles of the era but is it realistic? The answer is a
definite no.

Graphics: 8.6
While the PS2
version lacks the true graphical beauty of the Xbox version, this is still a
very good-looking game. The city landscape alone is impressive whether you’re in
the Brooklyn or Midtown and the character models are just too beautiful. It is
also quite a sight to be interacting with characters that look exactly like they
did in the movie, especially Brando, Duvall and Caan.

Sound: 9.0
You will want
to play this game on a good sound system because everything from the score to
the voice acting and finally the sound effects are handled perfectly. The newly
recorded voice work of Marlon Brando, James Caan, Robert Duvall and other key
players are so much better than taking sound bytes from the movie. The music is
classic and listening to the bustling city come to life is a treat.

The enemies
you’ll face in the game are not only numerous but they are not dumb either.
Rival goombas will take cover and fire from a concealed spot as others will try
to move to a better corner to get a clear shot at you. Some missions are
actually pretty challenging enough that you will end up in the hospital quite a

Concept: 8.5
Who doesn’t
want to run rackets for the Corleone family and be a part of the movie’s best
parts? New York City is open wide and filled with enough things to do as you
climb up the ranks of the mafia family. The Mob Face feature offers plenty of
options and you can upgrade skills and weapons.

Overall: 8.0
A bit rough
around the edges, The Godfather for the PS2 is still a very worthwhile game that
feels like an epic and plays in a universe that’s very familiar and highly
entertaining. While certain aspects of the game could have been better (like the
targeting system), the playground that is New York City and the mafia lifestyle
are well represented. Add a large number of good missions and RPG-styled
upgrading and you have a game that will win you over.