|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Redwood Shores||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 7, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
This same strategy can also be applied to taking over another family's influence. In order to weaken them, players will have to put out hits on their made men. Executing Capos and under-bosses will have the other family running scared. Of course, taking out these baddies is not simply as easy as putting a bullet in their noggin. You may have to throw them off a building, strangle them, or run them over with a car to be sure the other family gets the message. Finding out these goombas' whereabouts and their kill condition is simply a matter of doing favors for people around town. In exchange, these contacts will give you information essential to taking out rival made men permanently.
The favor system is further expanded by enforcing the will of more influential figures. Rather than just roughing up a dead beat boyfriend or rubbing out a problematic mother-in-law, you'll actually hobnob with leaders and officials. Doing so will give you more influence and allow you to cal in favors at anytime. This will help get your army out of jail more quickly, instantly revive fallen comrades, and even get your business rebuilt after a bombing.>
Trying to shoehorn everything you can do into this review is futile (for even more in-depth information, check out our interview with the game's Senior Producer Joel Wade). Suffice it to say, there is lot that can be done in The Godfather II. I really enjoyed upgrading and managing my crew, organizing my holdings in New York, Miami, and Cuba, and battling it out at enemy compounds. The mix of action and strategy made going through the game an entertaining romp. Unfortunately, it didn't do enough to engage me at a deeper level. All of my actions felt rather superficial and outside of the scope of The Godfather IP. For starters, the idea of family is totally lost in this game. Really what you're controlling is little more than a gang of thugs - there are no connections to the community, there is no prestige involved, and there are no blood relations. Family and community should be defining portions of the game. Instead, players will simply mow over fellow neighbors with their cars as if they were playing Saints Row. What's more, running drugs, a very sore spot in the movies, never seems to be a problem for the Corleones in this game. Also, the Don actually puts himself in danger. While I realize Sonny was a hands-on leader, he also didn't last very long. Players should have simply been able to issue orders to their minions and then take control of the battles by possessing those characters rather than getting the Don in the mix. This may all seem trivial to many gamers but, for me, it makes the game woefully ordinary and indistinguishable from other open-world offerings.
The fact is, GTA does an amazing job of providing players with an open-world that's full of things to do in a way no other franchise can touch. In that game, you really can shape your experience anyway you see fit. Saints Row does away with that title's sophistication and gets right down to brass tacks - thug-life with a capital 2. Both these games have defined themselves, endearing them to their intended audiences. However, The Godfather II never does so. As such, it feels like a knock off of GTA rather than a unique and worthy competing franchise. It should have tried to distinguish itself by being more concentrated on the strategy of being the one that pulls the strings. Why do I have to drive from place to place, plastering my flock as I go? Let's have a little restraint Dominick What are you; a moron? If it is the Cosa Nostra (Our Thing), why are all of the dealings so out in the open; so brutish and dirty? Truly, all the mechanics seem to be in place to make the game great - the Don's View interface is exactly what the title needs. However, it just gets bogged down in low-brow, flavorless gameplay that, while fun, never allows it achieve the iconic status the world of The Godfather deserves. In other words, I want to manipulate the political system with bribery and fear, setting up my own city-state as the prince of a horribly influential crime organization. I want to be a corrupt noble, not a petty thug!
Wrapping up the package is the multiplayer features. Players will have several modes of competitive play with which to do their worst. Bombing rival strongholds and putting hits out on Internet friends would be just a standard competitive affair if it weren't for the intermingling of the single-player with the multiplayer. For example, players will actually be able to play in multiplayer games as their own soldiers. That means all of the upgraded skills and familiar specialties of that enforcer will be at your disposal. Also, unlocking licenses for improving weapons abilities can be achieved through playing online - in essence improving your single-player experience by cruising online. This also holds true for money: Don Control actually lets you wager campaign funds against other Dons online. If you win, you'll bring home the spoils. Lose, and you could be imperiling your empire. While the multiplayer experience is not nearly as engaging as that found in CoD4 or Halo 3, it manages to outshine that found in GTA IV.
The Godfather II is a solid effort from EA Redwood Shores, but it doesn't truly live up to its potential. When all is said and done, it is a good game that players will both enjoy and find tedious. Hopefully, the franchise will progress with a third iteration, as sticking to a more complex, strategic-based formula would do wonders for the series. As it stands now, you'll have fun but wish for a whole lot more!
CCC Editor / News Director