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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action / Strategy

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA LAs

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

April 7, 2009

 

 

- “Don’s View” allows for good management of your criminal empire

- Haircuts were more awesome in the ‘60s

- Great soundtrack

 

 

- A Don gunning fools down in the street?

- Teleportation devices that works for your henchmen but not you

- Repetition appears early (and often)

- Strategic elements don’t go far enough

- Online functionality feels like a throwaway feature

 

 

Review: The Godfather: The Game (360)

Review: Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned (360)

Review: Resident Evil 5 (360)

 

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Godfather II

Score: 5.0 / 10

 

Using my Kenny Rogers look-a-like gangster to take over versions of early ‘60s New York, Miami and Havana has a certain innate goofy charm to it.  That’s not enough to save Godfather II from mediocrity (at best) because though it has some neat open-world action and an extra layer of “complexity” and oversight in the form of the Don’s View, the game as a whole ends up feeling unfinished, thanks to the repetitious nature of taking over fronts, the sidequests handed out by the endless rabble of pedestrians (most of whom want somebody dead or roughed up), a lot of stats that appear to do nothing, and a graphics engine that can’t keep up.

 

godfather 2          godfather 2

 

As a follow-up to The Godfather (released in the latter half of 2006), which I enjoyed quite a bit thanks to its general “faithfulness” to the movie and the feeling of place, Godfather II falls flat because it doesn’t know what kind of game it wants to be: an open world, squad-based tactical, strategy or role-playing?  It's never really clear.

 

There’s some squad management – come here, go there – as your posse of specialized thugs grows to match your criminal empire.  The family members can

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all be “upgraded” but it hardly feels necessary since all but the most intense firefights will result in success no matter what kind of skills you wasted money on upgrading.  They also possess magical abilities!  Say, you’re in Miami and someone is attempting a takeover of a business in New York, just ordering a family member to that location drops them into that space.  It makes management of your fronts and business

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much easier, teleporting goons to where they’re needed, but it also means you’ll spend a great deal of time putting your managerial skills to use – there’s even a balance sheet to consult.

 

Just one example among many: each business you take over can be stocked with guards to repel takeover attempts by rival families.  Maxing out the number of guards is paramount, even if it puts you into a negative cash flow situation – performing repetitive side missions or robbing a bank easily offsets any shortfall in the short term – because it pretty much neuters any enemy push, especially when you can teleport a family thug to the location as a surety that you’ll still maintain control over that business and not lose any perks that controlling a full crime ring gives you.  That is, until you hit certain parts of the story where a string of businesses will suddenly and magically be taken over by another family without any chance to defend your turf.  It’s similar to first-person shooters that take away your weapons halfway through the game as some sort of suspenseful twist.  It just feels like padding – extra tasks to perform to extend play time without adding anything of value.

 

godfather 2           godfather 2

 

To be sure, the Don’s View of your criminal empire is reminiscent of a 3D boardgame and for all the details that can be poured over in the submenus it feels like this “view” could have been turned into a standalone game with a few tweaks.  In this view you’re able to review staffing levels (i.e. guards for your business and fronts), cash flow, the status of the other Families and their soldiers, favors you might be able to call in, and so on.

 

As half-realized as the other elements of the game are, the one that everyone will notice is the incredible graphical pop-in (and out) that figures quite prominently throughout the game.  Taking a walk down the sidewalk reveals ghost cars that appear quite literally inches in front of your character and in the face of the small area of each location this seems out of place.  There are technical glitches, quirks, and environmental limitations all over the place, like the inability to walk through a concrete pipe while crouching that is clearly big enough to accommodate your character.

 

None of the above is a game breaker provided you know what you’re getting into, but it’s very disappointing that the distinct parts of the game don’t come together, overcome their mediocrity and create a greater whole.  In trying to do something new with the Don’s View, it seems like the resources of the development team were stretched too thin, resulting in a completely forgettable experience.

 

- D.D. Nunavut

(April 15, 2009)

 

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