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The GodfatherPlayStation 2

Published by Electronic Arts
Developed by Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

The Godfather, an introduction.

I think we've made it clear over the years that games based on movies usually struggle to be good games. There have been some positive exceptions in recent times though and thankfully we have another one with The Godfather. Perhaps the archetypal gangster film, The Godfather is regarded as one of Marlon Brando's finest films and it's one of those films that doesn't lose its appeal with age. In fact in many ways it's surprising that a game based on the film hasn’t been done much earlier as aside from Mafia (on the PC) we haven't really had a good gangster based game.

What's the game about?

You'll play as a character, that you’ll create yourself, that as a child lost his father who was killed by gangsters. Several years later your character has fell in with a rough lot and as your father was a loyal servant of the Corleone family your mother feels the Don ought to help your character out. He duly obliges and sends Luca Brasi to find you and take you under his wing. Of course this naturally means you'll learn the ropes or becoming a gangster in the mid-twentieth century in New York, and all that this entails.

What's good about the game?

Games based on movies can so easily become a mess. Having to combine the essence of the movie's story with elements you expect to find in a game (and still make the game feel like a worthwhile experience) is no easy task but EA have certainly succeeded. Your character is one of your own creations (as you get to use a character creation utility called Mob-Face which allows you to give your gangster that custom look) and there are many elements that have been created for the game. There are quite a few film sequences interwoven into the game exclusive sections and for the most part it feels pretty much like a natural synthesis which is quite an achievement.

You can't help but notice (within minutes of starting a game) how much like the GTA games The Godfather is. Whilst there is main plot thread to the game you are free to do what you want in the game (in the same way that you can in the GTA games). You can roam the streets, steal cars and beat up rival gang members etc. as much as you want to. Of course the 1940's New York setting gives the game a different feel to the GTA games (and to some degree a more interesting setting). You'll get to extort shopkeepers, enter brothels and do all kinds of stuff to raise heat and vendetta gauges. Police can be bribed (some times) and gang warfare can breakout if you antagonise a rival family too much.  

Of course being able to do as you please is all well and good but does it have any advantages? Well actually it does because you can earn respect points which are used to level-up your character and improve his attributes (such as fighting, shooting, health, speed and street smarts). Levelling-up your character makes later challenges less of a pain so every once in a while it's worth taking a rest from the main plot and spending time developing your character.  Combat and driving around feels better (the unarmed combat does offer far more variety) here than in the GTA games and the general frame rate also seems smoother even though it does dip from time to time. It's also worth adding that the game is quite lengthy and should keep you busy for at least 20 hours or more.

What's not so good about the game?

Whilst the game is generally very good there are a few problems. The frame rate dips quite a bit at times. Enemy AI isn't always as good as it should be and (as we'll mention in greater detail in a moment) you can't enable the subtitles before beginning the game for the first time. Character models of the lesser characters in the game are used ad nauseam and you'll notice several of the locations you’ll visit all begin to look the same after a while too.

How does it look?

Graphically The Godfather has its good and bad points. Most of character likenesses from the movie actually look pretty impressive and are detailed as you would expect to see on the PlayStation 2. Peripheral characters are another matter though and you'll see identical characters models time and time again throughout the game. Frame rate issues crop up from time to time too, most noticeably when driving around, and the frame rate can get quite low. Thankfully though, it's never problematic.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Whilst The Godfather does offer subtitles, enabling them is not easy as it should be. We've already mentioned the strong GTA influence in The Godfather and unfortunately the method of enabling the subtitles is exactly the same as it is in the GTA games. The game begins and goes right into the action with the subtitles disabled. In fact the only text you'll see in this opening sequence is the combat tutorial messages that appear. After this you'll use the Mob-face utility to create your own character before being plunged into another cutscene. Once this has completed you'll progress to a tutorial stage and once here you can push the start button to enter the option menu and enable the subtitles. Of course once you've saved your game and restarted you'll have access to the options menu you can enable the subtitles and then start a new game to see the opening cutscenes with the subtitles enabled. This is an awkward way of going about things but at least you'll only have to play five minutes or so before being able to quit and then begin again with the subtitles enabled. In every other respect the games fine though. Respect and vendetta notifications are all in text. Gauges are shown during extortions (so you can see how they are progressing) and your compass will show you were you need to go at all times. You can press the select button to recall your objectives which is useful. The subtitles in the game aren't colour-coded although this doesn't cause any real problems. Not all speech is subtitled though. Some comments from passers by in the street aren't subtitled and there's some speech that occurs on the loading screens that isn't subtitled but thankfully this doesn't spoil anything.

Final thoughts.

Fans of the movie have probably followed news of the game's development with scepticism and have probably been expecting a game that would only disappoint. Thankfully the game is actually a very pleasant surprise. Whilst the method of enabling the subtitles could have been better and the frame rate dips are a little disappointing there's no question this is a great game. Yes it's very much in the GTA mould but it fits in so well with the scenes from the movie (which have been redone using the game engine) that it's difficult to criticise the game for not being more original in this respect. If you are a fan of the movie or a fan of the GTA series you really can't go wrong with The Godfather and if you're a fan of both then you'll pretty much regard this as a definite purchase.

Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

The Godfather is a great game that fans of the movie and indeed fans of the GTA games should really enjoy. There are no problems for deaf gamers although you should have been able to enable the subtitles before starting the game for the first time.