Just saying the word godfather should send chills down your back. Power, family’s, guns, cigars and a really strong sounding italian-english accent throughout all spring to mind for me. This isn’t the first outing for the Godfather though, as the original Godfather was also released a few years ago. Having not had the chance to play the original however I wasn’t to sure of what to expect when I booted up the game.
My experience all starts off in Cuba, the crime capital, where you and a lot of the other families have gathered for a meeting. The meeting is however broken up by rebels who want to take back control of Cuba and get rid of the gangs completely. There’s an explosion and the families decide to split like a banana and go their separate ways out of Cuba. This is when you, using your created player, become part of the story throughout the rest of the game as you flee to New York. One of the main men Aldo gets shot at the airport as you are trying to flee, so Michael, the Don of your family, promotes you to the Don of a new family in New York.
This is when you get your first real glimpse of New York. The games runs on the GTA sandbox idea so it’s up to you how fast or slow you want to plough on with the story, however, when you do the small selection of side missions they all relate to the storyline in one way or another. You could drive around for ages but the cities aren’t of any great size, so you would end up just seeing the same old sights after 5 minutes. If you’re familiar with the Godfather storyline then it isn’t much different here. It’s all based on who has the most powerful family. The stronger the family the more powerful you are, and most likely, the more businesses you will have giving you more money. It’s an endless cycle.
Expanding your family is crucial to competing against other families for property and power throughout all three of the cities. That’s why you have to make sure that with every opportunity you expand your family by adding new members to your family tree when a space becomes available. Using the all new, and worth mentioning impressive, Don’s view, you can control your family as well as seeing where businesses are, who owns what business and what businesses are under attack by other families in the area. This is the screen you will look at the most, as everything is done from the Don’s view. You are after all the Don of your family. You can send your family members to attack other families property, as well as marking other families made men (the Don’s understudys) marked for death. If you get peeved off with one of your own men, or want to make space in the family for another crew member to join you can even mark one of your own family members for death. It’s up to you how you kill him.
Your family is the most important thing to you. You can’t do everything yourself, which is why each member you bring into the family has to have different set of specific skills. Take my good buddy Harvey Salvani for example, he’s a safe cracker, and my other buddy Roy Giordano can cut power to a building stopping any calls for reinforcements arriving. You can only have 3 crew members at any one given time, but when you get more you can send them to protect a specific business while they aren’t needed with your crew.
Talking about businesses, there’s quite a few of them. All of which you can control. You have your brackets, which are your higher class businesses that usually have around 3 or 4 related property’s throughout the city. If you manage to take over a full bracket (owning all the related businesses) then you are in charge of what’s called a crime ring. For example, take over all the brothels in a city will result in you owning that crime ring and bracket. Owning a bracket also gives you a specific bonus like armored cars or bullet proof vests which you and your family can use. Then you have your smaller businesses, which you can use for money laundering. These businesses are where you’re money is made and lost. If you are running low on funds however, just heist one of the banks within the game. Be aware though that the police will be all over you like a rash, so you have to have a game plan and an idea of how you’re going to pull it off.
It sounds more confusing than it really is. The game’s controls are really easy to pick up and play and allow any new gamer to the genre to easily adapt. Graphically the game is a mixed bag. The explosions look great and burst out with bright colours over my HD screen and each of the three cities clearly have their own identity. Cuba is dark and dull with lots of buildings just sitting on fire, whereas Florida as you would expect is bright and breezy. On the other hand, simple features like bush’s and even some of the buildings look like they would be better suited at home on the original Xbox. One thing which I do find creepy is if you hijack a 2 seater car and drive away, obviously you are leaving two of your crew behind. Wrong. When you get out the car and turn around they are just there. In fact, that goes for anything. If you start climbing up ladders they are already at the top, even though they haven’t climbed the ladders. The movie cut-scenes play out well however, and rather than some boring scenes that urge you to skip, instead you get enthralled in the story and what’s about to go down.
After around 10 hours gaming time you will have either completed the main story or you’ll be coming to a the end with it, so you want something else to try don’t you? Well, you can just fire onto the Xbox LIVE side of things. Again this is a mixed bag. The ideas are there with game types like Safecracker, Team Deathmatch and more, but the execution lacks a little. Like most shooting games these days the Shotgun rules all in the smaller maps. But if you can’t beat them, join them. So I too kicked ass using the shotgun, or at least tried anyway. You can also put the Don mode on which requires each player to pay an entry fee into the match before playing. The money from the Pot is then split up between the winning team, consequently winning money for your family budget you use in the single player.
Overall my Godfather 2 experience has been an enjoyable one. At times it feels a little repetitive but with the story not being too long or difficult you’re at the end of the game before you know it. The AI police are terrible and you can pretty much get away with anything. Anyone looking for the fun, stress free pleasure of a sandbox game then this is for you. I do suggest just renting however as the game can easily be completed within the week. Anyway, i’m off to heist a bank.