Officially the first game I've finished in 2007. Whoo hoo.
Yes, I know I'm late to the party on this one. After hearing about the upcoming PS3 and Wii ports, I almost wish I'd waited a little longer still, but I managed to find the Limited Edition cheap and a friend had just been raving about it, so whatever.
Anyway, when I'd heard EA was making a Godfather game, I was skeptical but interested. Movie games have a well deserved bad reputation and this isn't just the latest Vin Diesel vehicle we're talking about here. This is one of the greatest American films of all time. As details were revealed that showed the game as another in the long line Grand Theft Auto clones, it didn't do much to make me feel any better.
I'm pleased to say, Godfather is better than the average GTA knock off, but, at least in it's PS2 incarnation, it falls short of being a truly great game. While the game is free roaming, you are still tied to the story arc to advance. The story follows the movie with you as a rising member of the family. Some events are rewritten so you are involved, other things you learn about through cut scenes.
One quirk is a few major events in the Godfather's story line are mentioned by NPCs almost in passing. Like Vito's death, for instance. It's going to help if you're familiar with the movie first, because it's almost like they assume you know the story going into this game.
Aside from the story parts, you get to extort businesses and perform hits. Extorting businesses is pretty fun. Each shop owner has a level you can push them to where they will turn over protection money and if you push them farther, they'll fight back. Finding that balance is fun, but as you level up it becomes less and less of a chalange so by the end businesses just fold when you walk in.
The hits are kind of fun too as they always have a condition for bonus points and "respect". (Your respect meter is what allows you to level up.) For instance, you might have to kill a guy but you have to shoot him in the kneecap, shoulder and chin, in that order.
Other than that, you have to take over the rival family's warehouses, distribution hubs and compounds. Frankly, these missions get a little repetitious and are not helped at all by the fact that there's only a handful of building layouts. Once you get in a place, you know pretty much where everything is as you've seen it before.
And that's the Godfather's biggest flaw. Not only are the graphics kind of bland, there's not much variety in what you see. There's only five different vehicles, maybe a dozen (probably less) different buildings you go in, a lot of NPCs that look and sound the same, etc., etc. It just feels like this game needs a little more polish as these things feel a little rushed.
I also got really tired of driving everywhere. There's a lot of "meet X way up north, then go all the way over east, then down south" kind of stuff. It gets a little annoying after a while that you spend so much time in a car when the driving itself is rather boring.
Now, I'd say if you are a fan of the movie, it's worth playing, but I'd probably wait for a next-gen rev. Already the Xbox360 has more missions and (I think) the ability to recruit people to fight with you and supposedly has more of the polish the PS2 version needs. Additionally, the Wii and PS3 versions are supposed to use the motion sensing capacities of those system's controllers for the hand-to-hand combat (which I didn't mention but is kind of fun, even though it's not too far removed from button mashing.)
While Godfather the Game on PS2 isn't a total wash, it's hard not to think a movie this classic deserved a game equally so and this, unfortunately, isn't it. While it's going to be a fun diversion for fans of the movie and people wanting to play something until GTA 4 drops, unless the upcoming ports are amazing, this is an offer you can refuse*.
*(And I promised myself I wouldn't use that line...I am so ashamed.)