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uch like someone who pays their respects to the Don, Electronic Arts has paid its respects to director Francis Ford Coppola by preserving the look of his classic film, The Godfather. The camerawork and performances that the actors deliver makes you believe that Coppola was behind the lens yelling “action” through the entire development process. The game also delves heavily into director’s cut territory by lacing new content beautifully with classic scenes. For instance, you’ll now see how the gun was planted in the bathroom for Michael Corleone and who was behind the delivery of the horse head.
As magnificent as this experience sounds, The Godfather license is a cumbersome crutch when applied to gameplay scenarios. Most of the missions lack a sense of accomplishment, and are often devoid of meaty action. Holding true to the film, a lot of your time is spent attending meetings or simply talking to your Mafioso brethren.
While failing to transform this classic film into an engrossing interactive experience, the game does shine when it doesn’t have to rely on the license to pull it along. When not progressing through the story, you are invited to get your hands dirty and make a name for yourself. You’ll have the chance to extort businesses, take cuts from illegal gambling rings, and ultimately become the most powerful man in New York City.
All of this bloody handiwork is tied to a swift analog-based combat mechanic. Depending on how twisted your thoughts are, you’ll be able to smash the heads of storeowners onto counters, dangle frightened hotel managers off of buildings, strangle uncooperative bank clerks with wire, or even use a shotgun to execute a baker that gets a little lippy.
If you don’t want to get blood on the expensive clothing that you’ve worked hard to earn, using a pistol from a distance is another highly effective means of exacting punishment on the weak and powerless denizens of this city. Thanks to a ridiculously simplistic targeting system, performing a headshot is one of the easiest actions in the game. Vehicles can also be used to splatter brains, but it usually takes a great reflexive effort given how acrobatic your frightened targets can be.
This game definitely succeeds in making you feel like a despicable and highly feared human being. The quest for power greatly exceeds your feelings for the innocent. You want to climb the ranks. You want to impress the Don. And above all, you want to become the Don. You want to rule the city. And you can if you have the means of taking the other families down. The story-based missions feverishly try to clamor into the spotlight, but they do little to capture your imagination like this open-world thug-work does.
Initially, it would seem that Electronic Arts has devised a world that rivals those seen in the Grand Theft Auto series. Miles upon miles of unique architecture stretch in every direction and are used effectively to paint a realistic 1940’s setting. Upon further inspection, however, you’ll see that character models and building interiors are reused and repeated to the point that it would seem that EA only created one block’s worth of unique content.
Interacting with Marlon Brando certainly gave me shivers, but the biggest thrills that I took away revolved around the senseless beating of unfamiliar characters. I would have loved to see how this game turned out without The Godfather license attached. It really holds some great concepts back from reaching their full potential. As it stands, Take 2’s underrated Mafia is still the closest video games have come to capturing an atmosphere similar to that of this legendary film in a gameplay context


The Godfather, despite being a "gangster movie" classic, is really a slow-paced family drama, which makes it a bit of an odd choice for a video game. Still, it’s iconic, which is why expectations for this title have run high. EA’s never really tackled the open-world genre before, and its lack of experience shows. While I love how the game gives you another look into famous events from the films, the game is much too dull for its own good. Most of the time, you feel like all you’re doing is driving from meeting to meeting. While I like the side missions like extorting businesses and pulling hits, they get very repetitive and don’t seem to really affect the game world. All of this might be fine if the core gameplay were better, but the all-analog fighting is shallow and the gunplay is mostly just frustrating. It just doesn’t have the sense of discovery and fun that marks the best of this genre.

What happens when cinema’s most powerful family collides with Grand Theft Auto? You are treated to a great story that is dispersed amongst hours of meaningless action
The grandeur of New York City is nowhere to be found. Repeated environments and character models abound
Hearing Robert Duvall, James Caan, and Marlon Brando (in one of his final roles) bring their characters to life again is a real treat
Mechanically sound, and incredibly violent
It fleshes out this classic story, but ultimately fails as a game
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