Review: Godfather II
More Godfather III than I.
For those of you not in the know, the original Godfather game was a thoroughly enjoyable GTA style sandbox game that let you play out event’s from the first film as an original character never seen in the movies. The much awaited sequel is finally here, and sadly, I have to say, I’m not impressed.
You start off being dropped straight into the thick of it, as an underboss for the protagonist of the original game. Your boss is killed as you and the rest of the Corleone family attempt to flee from Cuba, as it begins its revolution. Thus, you arrive back in New York as the new head of the family, and must continue where your predecessor left off, putting the fear of god into all of your rivals.
Godfather 2 is certainly a lot more ambitious than the original. Rather than going for a straight tie in to the second film, it’s got a plot of its own and is much more centered on your character. Sadly this turns out to be a huge mistake, as the story itself is about as interesting as watching paint dry, and there was so much more fun to be had in the original, playing a part in infamous scenes from the movie.
In terms of gameplay, Godfather 2 is mostly much the same as the original. You run around capturing businesses from rival gangs in an attempt to send them scarpering off to their hideouts where you can finally end them, once and for all. The only real difference this time around is that you can send henchman to do the dirty work for you, while you spend time doing, ummâ€¦ sod all, apparently.
Herein lays the core problem with Godfather 2. There is absolutely nothing else to do, in the game except capture territories, and after you’ve done this four or five times, the novelty has completely disappeared. Even the penultimate shoot outs at enemy compounds are dull and lifeless, as the game struggles to provide even a mildly challenging experience right from the word go. Worst of all the game touts an absurdly long tutorial that insists on holding your hand through most of the game despite the fact that the gameplay is painfully simplistic to begin with.
The game also tries desperately to turn your completely useless henchman into vital tools with horrid level design full of locked doors that have no way of opening, wooden door’s that are completely resistant to any explosives you fling at it, but will fall apart if the right henchman punches them and brick walls built in incredibly stupid places that can only be blown up by another type of henchman, despite the fact they really shouldn’t exist at all. All of this leads to a frighteningly frustrating experience as the game desperately tries to justify a myriad of useless gameplay elements that do nothing to alleviate the complete and utter tedium you’ll experience if you dare to play it in the first place.
Stillâ€¦ the game does have a few positives worth mentioning. The world around you is visually impressive, with stylish, realistic looking houses and factories everywhere you look. It’s also extremely evident that a lot more effort has gone into the interior decoration of businesses this time around. The game is full of seedy looking strip clubs complete with sleazy women just waiting to knock your ego down a peg or two if you dare to speak to them when you’re not important enough to remember. Gambling dens really look like proper casinos this time around, instead of a few roulette tables dotted around a crowded room. Sadly this is all let down by NPC’s who are all so laughably crap looking, that they shatter any illusion of realism the game tries to hold onto.
I had no intention of ever playing this game, but it came as part of a bundle and I must say I’m glad I played it before trading it in. It helps that it’s only twenty hours long and fires achievements at you like so many bullets from a Tommy Gun. Not to mention as EAsy as they come, being able to entirely ignore Mercs’ style deck of cards sub-game and instead wiping them all out at their mansion.
If this was any other developer, you and three mates versus an army of gangsters would be suicide, but this is EA and you have an infinite supply of magic syringes. After all, infinite health is the most important thing. More than success, more than money, more than power.
I don’t feel I have to wipe everybody out, just my enemies.
What kept me going was the routiness of it all. Very digestible, popcorn gaming. With mercifully few story missions, how you finish the game is left to you. This is to be praised along with the customisation, the audio, music, voice-acting and car handling. The regrettable aspects include the last generation graphics, bland designs and small maps. Put together, the whole thing comes across like an amateur dramatics production.
This family has a lot of buffers!
GTA clones used to be looked down on, but since Rockstar went super-cereal, silly B-game fare like the Saints Row has risen to the fore. Scarface and this game have both tried to recapture the Vice City vibe, allowing us to become tourists in a time not often explored. (anywhere between 1958 and 74 in this case lol) This offers something, but it’s not quite an offer you can’t refuse. Something tells me Part 3 is going to be amazing.
Secondary Score: 7/10
The most impressive thing that this game has going for it is its combat, or more specifically its execution moves. Each type of weapon has its own set of execution moves depending on whether your victim is standing up or down on his knees. The tools of your trade range from the prolific Tommy gun to the pistol, the magnum, the shotgun and the rifle as well as melee weapons like tire iron’s, baseball bats and pool cues. The execution moves for each weapon are extremely brutal and fit in remarkably well with the gritty, dark world of organised crime that the game exists in, but sadly this is just a small touch of brilliance in a vast sea of crap and still doesn’t manage to make the game worth playing for any real length of time.
I haven’t even mentioned the online multiplayer yet, which is so embarrassingly bad that you’ll be left wondering why they even bothered wasting time on it. With games like Saints Row 2 and GTAIV struggling to create unique multiplayer modes that work well in a sandbox game, it seems unbelievable that EA would include something that feels so horribly outdated, where the only real key to victory is to hope you spawn nearest the machine gun. This is just the final piece of uninspired, lazy design in a seriously underdeveloped game.
All in all Godfather 2 is an extremely mediocre, shallow game that does absolutely nothing to compete with the fantastically over the top cartoon-esque Saints Row 2, or the extremely grounded, realistic GTAIV, which both dominate opposite sides of the sandbox gaming genre. If EA really want to turn this series into more than just a simple, by the numbers movie tie in, they’re going to have to offer something significantly more impressive than this latest effort, because at the moment this feels like something that would have barely passed as playable, back on the PS2.
To summarize: Godfather 2 is an extremely linear game filled with crap looking npc’s, boring gameplay and a dull main plot, all of which combine to make an almost utterly joyless experience.