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Maybe we shouldn’t be too disappointed. When EA bought the rights to The Godfather it was shooting for the moon, and when you aim that high you either succeed brilliantly, or fall down to the ground in flames. Still, when you adapt the latest Bond movie or super-hero blockbuster, nobody expects more than a by-the-numbers action game. When you take one of the greatest movies ever made and try to turn it into a game, you’re in for a more difficult ride. You’ve either got to make something special, or face the question “Why did you bother?”
It certainly doesn’t help when the movie’s auteur, Frances Ford Coppola, publicly disowns the result. "I went and I took a look at what it was” he told an American TV interviewer, “What they do is they use the characters everyone knows and they hire those actors to be there and only to introduce very minor characters. And then for the next hour they shoot and kill each other. I had absolutely nothing to do with the game and I disapprove."
Well, he might not have made a decent film in more than a decade, but the man has a point. For all of EA’s talk of “respecting the fiction”, The Godfather is little more than a take on GTA, restaged in 1940s New York, and with an awful lot of shooting and killing to be done. As a smalltime associate of the Corleone family, it’s up to you to do their dirty work – removing the odd stone from the Don’s shoe, if you get my meaning – while extorting businesses, taking over rackets and hitting the odd freight truck. When you’re not building up your own empire on the side, you’re helping the family with its problems, effectively by playing a behind-the-scenes role in the events of the classic movie.
Now, don’t get me wrong: EA’s team has clearly made great efforts to utilize the available assets, whether dragging in Messrs Caan, Duvall and Brando for additional dialogue or bringing in the chilling Nino Rota score at every opportunity. What’s more, the main story missions are closely tied in to the film’s narrative. When armed goons come to kill the Don in hospital, you’re there to help Michael hold them off; when Sonny’s taken down at the tollbooth, you’re hot on the trail of the assassins; and when a certain portion of the equine anatomy needs to be delivered to a movie producer’s bedroom, hey, you’re there to do the honours. As the theme rises in the background and you hear the original cast delivering solid Godfather dialogue, it might be tempting to see The Godfather as a game that bends over backwards to pay its respects.