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The Godfather II review



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Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC - Xbox 360 version reviewed

While it has its defenders, EA's game of The Godfather is to my mind one of the worst movie tie-ins in gaming history; a mediocre GTA clone that showed no respect to one of the finest films ever made, and swamped a handful of genuinely interesting ideas in some of the most tiresome open-world gameplay I've encountered. In short, I didn't like it much. All the same, I was determined to come to The Godfather II with an open mind. After all, if EA had the decency to distance the game sequel from the movie sequel by not calling it The Godfather Part II, then the least I could do was to do the same. Maybe it's fairer to put the films out of my mind and come to the game as if it were simply a new take on the open-world crime genre that just happened to be linked to Coppola's movies.

Well, I tried. The tragedy of The Godfather II is that I don't believe it is just a cynical attempt to squeeze more money from an expensive license. At its core, it has some solid ideas and it's really trying to take the genre somewhere different. The problem is that it hasn't done much of it particularly well, and in some key respects it's basically incompetent or technically inept. The fact that one of the darkest and most powerful narratives in American cinema has been turned into a mish-mash of mobster management and duck-and-cover gunplay is by-the-by; even taken on those terms, the game is average at best, and wretched at its worst.

Credit where credit's due. While The Godfather II is loosely based on the events of The Godfather Part II, there's less attempt this time around to put the player in the background of the movie, putting the horse head in the bed, and that kind of thing. Instead, you're commanded early on by Michael, now firmly established as head of the Corleone family, to take over operations in New York, and while he's there to provide the odd mission from time to time, you're mostly left to your own devices. There's still no Al Pacino in the main role - just a reasonably acceptable stand-in - but we still get digital versions of Fredo, Hyman Roth and Frankie Pentangeli to convince us that we're still in The Godfather's universe. Well, convince might be the wrong word given that these digital actors have all the facial nuance and emotional range of the kind of dodgy animatronics you might find at a third-rate Belgian theme park, but hopefully you get the point. The game steps back from the film so that it can put you where you want to be; in the shoes of a respected Mafioso capo.

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April 15, 2009, 1:29 pm

What is it with EA and film adaptations? In fact, their new low was deciding Quantum of Solace was already crap, and so unable to find a way to cheapen that experience, they base half of it on Casino Royale which was genuinely great and worthy of being left alone, and go ahead to destroy that too!


April 15, 2009, 2:22 pm

EA has been responsible for some rotten film adaptations, but I can't pin Quantum of Solace on them - that one was Activision's crime.

The sad state of affairs is that most film tie-ins are bobbins. Luckily, there are some exceptions; expect a review of Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena some time next week.

Zero 1

April 15, 2009, 2:22 pm

yes, i played this game already... this game does really sucks game play seems boring and the graphics looks very very bland. Almost as if its a cheap version of GTA


April 15, 2009, 3:19 pm

I played the first one and got so bored with the repetitiveness, I could not be bothered to complete the game!! which does not happen often for me.. it looks like not a lot has changed in number 2.

The strategy element looks interesting but as it's combined with lame game-play, I'll be giving this one a miss.


April 15, 2009, 4:22 pm

Ah of course, you're right. I guess my brain is still recovering from GoldenEye : Rogue Agent. That was EA, no?


April 15, 2009, 6:05 pm

EA doesn't have the best track record when it comes to licensing games from their filmic counterparts. I worked at EA as a QA tester on a Harry Potter release (won't say which one) on all systems and the game was a bit of a joke; clearly a cash-in.

On the other hand, they have released some thoroughly enjoyable franchised games. A couple of the Lord of the Rings releases come to mind. Battle for Middle-earth anyone?


April 15, 2009, 7:21 pm

Seconded on both Battle for Middle Earth games - and on the general rottenness of the Harry Potter games. Rogue Agent was awful too, and the use of the Goldeneye name just added insult to injury.


April 15, 2009, 8:07 pm

Great review - we need more game reviews.

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