The Godfather: Mob Wars Review
The Godfather: Mob Wars box art
System: PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: EA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sept 2006 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
Review by Patrick 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Divide and conquer New York, one city district at a time.
by Patrick Evans

Everyone knows the deal by now; the Corleone mob gets knocked around a little after the assassination attempt on their Don, and the sons of the family move to extract their revenge. The Godfather is a cinema classic, but anyone who missed it on DVD probably picked up most of the plot when they console games released early this year. For the Playstation Portable version of The Godfather, EA has cut a considerable chunk from the explorative side of the original and added the new “Mob Wars” mode to replace it. The result is similar to when you neuter your pet; they simply don’t seem the same, or in this case, nearly as fun.

 The Godfather: Mob Wars screenshot

Unlike the console versions, starting up before any mission begins with a menu. Selecting a mission is on a menu, securing additional ammo for the next mission is in a menu, and switching over the Mob Wars is in a menu. Part of what made the console Godfather unique, or a copycat of GTA depending on how you look at it, was the ability to go anywhere and hassle whatever shop owners you chose. Now, gamers are thrown through menus. Story mode presents the “Reader’s Digest” version of the console story, absent of any driving or exploration. You get a cut scene telling the background of the mission and then you are thrown into the level. Early missions like tailing the Don’s ambulance as it heads to the hospital lose quite a bit of weight and continuity without the driving portion. All we get to do here is watch cars shoot at each other until they get to the bridge.

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In place of all the driving and shopkeeper extortion is the PSP exclusive Mob Wars mode, which puts players in control of the Corleone family in their quest to conquer New York City. The game is turn-based with playing cards that activate special abilities, and each turn players can play cards, hire mobsters, and use those mobsters to expand their territory. If a mobster moves into a vacant district, players begin the Extortion mini-game to secure the racket for the family. If the district is occupied by a rival family, then players must blast through the enemy safe house to eliminate their presence in the area. Each turn ends with police raids, based on what families have attracted the most heat in the previous turns.

The Godfather: Mob Wars screenshot

Mob Wars is no doubt an interesting concept. The game board is arranged and scored similarly to board games such as Risk, where owning more land grants you more power for you next turn. You even get a bonus for owning an entire continent – er, I mean, neighborhood. Strategic placement of your mobsters is also necessary because you can only move one spot per turn, and defending against a rival family’s attacks depend on your mobster presence in the area. Careful care of how you manage your money is perhaps the most crucial aspect of all as it can be taken from you in an instant with the right card. Better to spend it on weapon upgrades or additional mobsters than to let it slip into the hands of your enemy.

Players wondering “Well, if they deleted so much from the rest of the title, shouldn’t Mob Wars be awesome?” may be in for disappointment. After about six or seven raids on neighboring territories, players will begin to lose interest in the action presented to them. The extortion missions are a breeze as many shop owners will simply agree outright when your character is at least partly leveled, while raiding enemy mansions is easy with the right weapons regardless of their presence level. Even if you enjoy the game and want to beat it again, you can only conquer the city once on a given profile.

The Godfather: Mob Wars screenshot

In trying to make Mob Wars a vital part of the overall package, the developers tied character stats and money totals from both modes together. This means that players can “cheat” in Story Mode by whooping on Mob Wars and visa versa. Mobsters that you move on the board are more placeholders for your Story Mode character than anything else. Even when your outsider-level thug moves to take a district, your uber-leveled character takes his place to tear the place down. Instead, things would have felt a little more authentic had the developers let the characters rank determine their statistics. Storming Brooklyn with an associate shouldn’t be possible, but it is and it cheapens the mode considerably.

Mob Wars tries to be a couple things at once here, and falls short in just about all of them. Busting up the Story Mode only serves to place players in boring mission after mission to see the same story they’ve experienced already. The Mob Wars mode fairs no better as it lacks the necessary structure and depth to make it a worthwhile strategy game. What players have left is basically shooting mission after shooting mission, which they could get with better controls in a number of games elsewhere.

The Godfather: Mob Wars screenshot

Features:

  • The World of The Godfather: Experience a decade of the mafia in New York City from 1945-55.
  • Classic Film Moments: Take on film-based and original missions as you interact with classic characters and experience unforgettable moments from the film.
  • PSP-Exclusive Game Mode: Engage in a turf war as you take over territory in the strategic Mob Wars mode unique to the PSP version of the game. Maneuver your mobsters and play the right cards to take control of NYC one territory at a time.
  • Respect and Consequences: Loyalty and fear are two of your greatest weapons and the ones that will earn you the most respect, and therefore power. Your choices affect how the action plays out, so make sure you use your power wisely in order to rise to the top.
  • Control New York: Your bid to take control of the Corleone Family and make New York City your own will be challenged by the other four families from the fiction: Tattaglia, Cuneo, Barzini, and Stracci.
  • Wield the Power of the BlackHand: The power of intimidation is in your hands. Use the BlackHand Control combat system to punch, kick, grab, and even choke someone with a stranglehold.
  • Pressure Point Targeting: A dead man can't talk. Pressure point targeting lets you get a less-than-lethal lock on your opponent so they're still around to give you valuable information.
  • Authentic to the Fiction: Mark Winegardner, author of the novel The Godfather Returns, provides story editing and consultation.

    By Patrick Evans
    CCC Staff Writer

    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    4.4

    Graphics
    All the cut-scenes and action are faithful to the console versions with little slowdown.

    3.3

    Control
    Aiming at specific body parts works well and saves ammo, but the camera leaves huge blind spots that will get you killed repeatedly.

    3.8

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    All the voice acting and music from before is, again, transferred faithfully. The Mob Wars mode could use some tunes though.

    3.2

    Play Value
    Mobsters who missed the original console versions, or who are curious about the strategy mode, are the only ones who will want this one.

    3.2

    Overall Rating - Fair
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Screenshots / Images
    The Godfather: Mob wars screenshot – click to enlarge The Godfather: Mob wars screenshot – click to enlarge The Godfather: Mob wars screenshot – click to enlarge The Godfather: Mob wars screenshot – click to enlarge
    The Godfather: Mob wars screenshot – click to enlarge The Godfather: Mob wars screenshot – click to enlarge The Godfather: Mob wars screenshot – click to enlarge The Godfather: Mob wars screenshot – click to enlarge

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