Xbox 360 Review: The Godfather II

I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse…

After being promoted by Michael Corleone to Don of New York, players expand to new cities, as they build up their families through extorting businesses, monopolizing illegal crime rings and defeating new families in an effort to become the most powerful mob family in America. To help players manage their empire, The Godfather II introduces “The Don’s View” – an innovative strategy meta-game that allows players to oversee the entire world as they grow the family business. Using the Don’s View, players will be able to build, defend and expand their crime rings, while keeping an eye on the movements and plans of the rival families. Players will also learn to master the business of organized crime by building a family of Made Men, hiring crew, handing out orders, and promoting their best men up the ranks.
The original Godfather game didn’t change the world of free-roaming games, but it was well received by most. I personally enjoyed it quite a lot and have been anticipating the sequel. The Godfather II takes the formula of the original, but builds upon it with the Don’s View feature, as well as more customisable options such as specialised crew members and levelling them up to an almost RPG element. Godfather II has plenty of things to do, but can it live upto fans expectations?

In some ways it does, but ultimately it doesn’t feel like a good enough sequel after the years since the original. The gameplay may have become more tactical such as placing your men around what businesses you own to protect them, while taking men to take over others. But once you have taken over one family’s businesses, you can take their compound out with an explosive and stop them coming back, more or less just like the original. I just feel that the team played it a bit safe and since the original we have had great games like GTA IV and Saints Row 2, so I would have thought they would have tried to compete more with them.

Instead, the end result is good; it’s just not a brilliant one. You can be cheap and buy your way through the game with Microsoft Points just like in the first game; it’s a silly thing that I hoped would have died out by now. Paying money to get ahead like that is ridiculous, let’s hope this is the final straw with it.

In terms of difficulty, Godfather II doesn’t put up much of a challenge thanks to the assistance of your crew and the powerful weapons at your disposal. Enemies aren’t the smartest bunch either, I found myself just going back and forth between Don’s View and the game to protect and attack businesses. Besides that, there wasn’t anything that was particularly difficult.
The game sticks closely to its own plot, but weaves it around the main story of The Godfather II, just like how the original game worked its way around the film. Once again, there’s a lack of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, but that’s because of the deal with Scarface, which is a shame…it’s the only thing that makes the game lose its authentic feel from the films. It’s not EA’s fault, its Pacino’s…although it might have helped if somehow they worked around it so he could do both. I’m not sure what the contract details are, but if I were EA…I’d be studying them closely.

The single player campaign will take about 20 hours to do, which is pretty good by today’s standards. Then there’s multiplayer, which is surprisingly good. There are 2 main modes such as Safecracker and Firestarter, you can take on your rivals like in the single player…but if you are the Don Player, you get a view that’s like Don’s View, only zoomed in better. With it you can select waypoints, target enemies and trigger things like explosives.

It’s an impressive addition to multiplayer and sets it apart from most. Also, any cash earned online can be used in the single player game. So there’s a huge incentive to dig right in to the multiplayer modes, if only more multiplayer games made the connection like this…
There are nice perks from taking over one specific business at a time. For example, you can get armored cars for taking over the chop shops and body armor for taking over the diamond shops. It’s another great incentive, which can ultimately help you out even further. Everything you do gives you a nice edge over the competition, although it ultimately makes the game easier and less challenging.

The Godfather II has a lot to offer, but in terms of visuals…it looks dated when compared to similar titles. Everything looks bland besides fire effects and explosions, which is disappointing. For a game in 2009, it just doesn’t deliver what’s required to impress. Voice-work is great and the music captures the feel of the 50’s and 60’s well, which is perhaps its best presentational feature.

The Verdict

The Godfather II may not live upto the movie itself, but it’s a good follow-up to the original game. I was expecting something a bit more challenging and innovative, but overall it doesn’t disappoint with a great single and multiplayer experience. Any Godfather fan needs this game; just don’t go expecting it to be on the same level as GTA IV…