The Godfather Blackhand Edition Review
I suppose it takes, if nothing else, guts for a developer to decide to make one of the best movies of all time into a video game. No, I'm not talking about Citizen Kane and let's not give anyone any ideas. It is close to a no win situation as you will always be compared to a classic even if you are using a different media. Nonetheless last year EA brought out the cinema darling The Godfather on several platforms. There were mixed feelings when EA announced that they were going to be making The Godfather into a game. Hmmm, let me rephrase that: everyone thought it would suck. The director of the movie, one Francis Ford Coppola, wanted nothing to do with it. Games based on a hit movies generally blow and games that tried to mimic the GTA formula don't fair so well either. There were a lot of bad vibes about how the game would turn out. Now that we've been able to see the results on the PS2 and Xbox 360 most gamers felt that, while not an awesome game, at least EA didn't embarrass themselves and more importantly didn't tarnish The Godfather legend...at least no more than The Godfather III did. Now that it comes waltzing over to the Wii and we have to ask ourselves, is this anything I want play? Let's find out...
In some ways the Blackhand version of The Godfather is an enhancement over the its siblings and, you knew I was going to say it, it's also a bit of a letdown. You know, the whole yin and yang thing. On the plus side there are new missions added and some interesting uses of the Wii controller. On the down side are some graphical and controller hiccups. But overall the experience is not bad...not great, but not bad. The story is a tad familiar and I don't mean just to those who have seen movie. You start off as a low ranking mobster and through hard work and good grades you become successful. No wait a minute, I mean through cracking skulls, blackmailing and killing people you become successful. Whoa, big difference. Anyway, throughout the game you will run across scenes from the movie but you will also find out that you're the person behind the scenes that was responsible for different situations in the movie. Ever wonder how the horse head made it into the bed? Now you'll know! It is a neat way to combine new story elements without stepping on the original source material. You find yourself extorting store owners and often time you'll find a secret illegal racket in the back of the stores. Make the racket boss come to his senses by smacking him around some and he'll soon be working for the Corleones. Do this enough and you'll be making a name for yourself and will get “promoted”.
Maybe it will not always be like this but for now it seems that the first question that must be answered on a Wii title is “How do the controls work?” I can understand that there is a lot of excitement over the controller but until we get more comfortable with them there will also be a little amount of uncertainly. Blackhand will not clear up this but it does use the controllers in a way that feels pretty good but there are times when it can be a little too picky and unresponsive. The game uses both the nunchuk and remote and although the Wii is marketing itself as a system for everyone because of it's simple remote I did find myself a little confused at times trying to use all the different buttons from both controllers. Sure you get used to it but it's difficult to press the – or + buttons quickly and even more so when you have your remote in a glove. But that's not the game's problem, that just my way of trying to get a better grip on the remote so not to fling it across the room. Some of the movements are very good. For example when you are roughing up a bad guy you can grab him and by flipping both controllers forward toss the dude like a rag doll. Very cool! It also feel nice using the controllers to swing fists or bats while in combat. You can even twist the remote to open doors, of course you could use the A button instead but where's the fun in that I ask? There are time when the Wii does not seem to recognize some of the more difficult controller movements and that can get frustrating. But in general the uniqueness of the controllers add more to the gaming experience than they take away.
The Godfather closely follows the GTA gaming pattern of giving the gamer a somewhat open ended world to roam around in. There are paths that must be taken if you want to win the game and other missions that are voluntary. Blackhand offer up more missions than the previous versions and while that's nice and all they are really just a bunch of minor additions. There are more store owners to “persuade” into needing protection and more blackmail opportunities. In all there are about 30 of these new missions. Naturally the game takes place in 1920's-ish New York City and it divides the city into different areas each with their own Don. Take over all the areas and become the king of New York crime. The city is large and it will take a long time to finish the game even if you focus solely on the main missions. You can't have a GTA clone of any type without having cars to hijack but the problem with Blackhand is that you're jacking 1920 style cars. You know what? 1920 cars are not all that fun to drive so you don't get all that jazzed up about snagging one of these rides. I found myself using the new feature where you call for a ride and get whisked to my destination because it was just a lot faster and driving myself around slow and wasn't much fun.
The biggest weakness of the game would be that the Wii seems to really be pushing its limits graphics-wise. Granted graphics don't make a game, but in the case here there are certain areas, alley ways in particular, that look horrible. I'm talking just nasty with no detail at all. Now the cutscenes look great and most of the city looks good but there are many areas that slow down too often. Of course we know that the Wii isn't about powerhouse graphics but I would have expected them to be cleaner then they were. The voice acting is well done with great, but mature, dialog.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 73%. The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is a good game with some of the best uses to date for the Wii controllers. There are some graphical issues and some odd control response but not enough to call out a hit on.