The Godfather Review

The Godfather is one of the best regarded films of all time. This is evidenced by the fact that the movie can spawn an officially licensed game more than thirty years after it debuted in theaters. Familiarity with the movie is not a requirement to play and enjoy the game, but if you haven’t seen the film then you won’t be able to appreciate what a good job the developers have done weaving the game’s storyline with that of the movie’s.

In The Godfather, you play a character who didn’t appear in a single frame of the film yet played a vital role in the events depicted in the movie. The game opens with you as a young kid who experiences the horror of watching your father get gunned down in a gangland killing. Flash forward a decade and it is the wedding day of Don Corleone’s daughter depicted in the opening scene of the movie. Your mother makes a special appeal to the Don to take you under his wing and since a Sicilian can not refuse a request on his daughter’s wedding day you soon find yourself a foot soldier in the Corleone family.

You play as an up and coming mobster.
You begin the game by creating your mobster’s look using the game’s extensive character customization feature. The look you create will not only be used for your character during the action in the game, but for all of the cutscenes as well. This sort of feature is par for the course in RPG and sports games, and it is nice to see it making its way into action games as well. The game then guides you through the initial missions as a kind of on-the-job tutorial. This is a great way to get the story moving from the start while getting you used to the controls and game features and is far preferable method to the ubiquitous boot camp levels found in military action games. Even these initial missions are tied to events from the film and your training officially ends when your mentor Luca Brasi is strangled in one of the memorable scenes from the movie.

The Godfather follows the Grand Theft Auto model in providing you with a living, breathing city in which you can initiate story missions at any time, build your reputation for ruthlessness, put the muscle on local businesses, or just hijack some wheels and explore the city, which in this case is a recreation of New York in the late 1940s. A lot is borrowed from GTA – you can steal any car and kill any pedestrian you see, public acts of violence raise your profile with the police, you awaken from death in a medical clinic, there are hidden bonus objects in the city, … the list goes on. This is not a particularly bad thing though as this gameplay model is a good fit for The Godfather. Don’t be surprised by occasional bouts of déjà vu, though.

One of the game’s unique aspects is that you can put the muscle on local businesses to extort protection money. Business owners will not usually give in to your demands, so you’ll often have to do a little “persuading”. This involves slapping the owner around a bit or trashing parts of the business until the owner complies. When he or she does the shop will generate a nice little stream of income for you. You need to be careful if the store is already under the thumb of one of the other New York’s “Five Families” as you can expect some goons to break in and try to put an end to your “negotiations”. Some businesses serve as fronts for an illegal operation such as a gambling den or brothel. If you take over the “business in the back” as well you can expect even higher levels of income. Some of these are even part of a network served from a central headquarters and if you can take that down you can make some serious scratch.

All of this ancillary action is enjoyable, but where the game really shines is in the story missions. Story missions are marked on your in-game map as they become available and you can initiate them by going to the designated location. The missions are a treat for anyone who’s enjoyed the The Godfather movie as they serve as extension of the events in the film rather than a retread of the action.


Also reviewed on:
  •  · PlayStation 2 
  •  · PlayStation 3 
  •  · PSP 
  •  · Wii 
  •  · Xbox 360