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The Godfather Xbox 360

Published by Electronic Arts
Developed by Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £49.99

The Godfather, an introduction.

Earlier this year we reviewed The Godfather on the PlayStation 2 and in truth we were mildly surprised by how enjoyable the game was. Instead of simply following the script of the movie the developers cast you as a peripheral character and combined GTA style missions with events from the movie. It was a great decision and one that made it popular with gamers. Finally the Xbox 360 version of the game has arrived and unsurprisingly the successful formula has remained pretty much intact.

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 of 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 a main plot thread to the game, you are free to do what you want in the game (in much 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 some 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.

Whilst it’s essentially the same game as the PlayStation 2 version, the Xbox 360 version of The Godfather does have some minor tweaks here and there. Loading times are quicker and the frame rate is quite a bit smoother than in the PlayStation 2 version. New missions and contract hits have been included and there’s more interaction with key characters in the game. Of course there are also the achievements that you can earn to increase your Gamerscore points. There are 38 achievements in total and they range from First Sign of Respect (5G), for reaching Respect level 10 to Total Domination (50G) which is earned by extorting all businesses.

What’s bad about the game?

Whilst the game is generally very good there are a few problems. The frame rate, whilst better than the PlayStation 2 version, still dips from time to time although thankfully it’s never problematic. 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 although in fairness the repetitive interior design issues (where locations looked identical to others of the same kind that you’d already visited) that plagued the PlayStation 2 version appear to have been sorted out and there’s far more variety in how the interiors look in the Xbox 360 version.

How does it look?

Naturally with the delay of the Xbox 360 version most would have assumed that a graphical overhaul was going to happen to take full advantage of the console’s capabilities. Sadly that hasn’t really happened. Naturally when playing on a HD display the graphics look much sharper but they still don’t look as good as they should given the huge jump in capabilities between the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 2. When playing on a standard TV set the differences are even less noticeable. Granted, the loading times are faster and the frame rate is smoother which is good to see but most would have hoped for a game that looked much better.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

The Xbox 360 version of The Godfather is exactly the same as the PlayStation 2 version in regards to its deaf gamer friendliness. Whilst The Godfather does offer subtitles, enabling them is not as 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 been 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 back 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.

Those looking for a mafia flavoured, GTA style game for their Xbox 360 should not hesitate in purchasing The Godfather. The Xbox 360 is mildly disappointing in that the graphics are not as good as they could have been but even so it’s a superior version to the PlayStation 2 game we played earlier this year and if you have yet to play the game on another format this is definitely the version to own. If you have played another version, you may not find enough differences here to warrant a purchase because aside from some small additions and some minor improvements it’s exactly the same game.

Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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The Godfather was one of those rare titles that showed that a game based on a movie could indeed by very enjoyable. The Xbox 360 version is definitely the best version of the game but it's only going to appeal to those who have yet to pick up a copy of the game on one of the other formats.