The original Godfather title was a solid, open-world crime adventure that should’ve appealed to fans of the legendary movie series, but EA is taking it up a notch with the sequel, scheduled to release in February. In fact, we dare say that if EA gets this one right, it could prove to be even better than Saints Row 2 and worthy of any GTAIV fan’s attention. EA says, “Act like a mobster, think like a Don,” and if you can adopt this philosophy for The Godfather II , you will become a vice-ridden God among men, you will own the city, and other so-called roughnecks will be forced to bow in respect. You step into the shoes of Dominic, who is coincidentally working for Aldo Trapani, the protagonist in the original title. But although you will start out low on the totem pole, you will have the opportunity rise through the underground ranks, provided you have the physical and mental fortitude. This game is about diligent intimidation; it’s about strategically enforcing your will and forging enough friendships to guard you against your numerous enemies.
Sure, you’ll start off running errands for the head honchos – Grand Theft Auto fans are quite familiar with this position – but you will soon have more responsibility. But much like the open-ended feel of the game, EA has added a branching storytelling aspect that relies on your character’s responses when queried at certain points. Key plot-changing moments will allow you to select one of four possible responses, and this will have a direct impact on your immediate future, so don’t make any rash decisions! Either way, your ultimate goal remains the same, and you’re going to need help. You will be able to employ up to seven men to assist you in your underhanded pursuits, and each one of them will have their own personality and set of skills. There will be medical and explosives experts, and don’t be surprised to see that some men excel in the art of “physical negotiating,” which would simply translate to “muscle” in common street slang. Not only can you improve your own statistics, you can increase the stats of your comrades-in-arms as well, which means that much like a strategy or RPG title, you’ll have to keep a close eye on your entire group.
No matter where you go, there should be something to do and someone to extort. There’s everything from racketeering to prostitution to drugs to occupy your time, and if you want to get your dirty little hands in as many illegal profit-making schemes as possible, you have to be active. Once your own crime ring gains control, you can nab one of the eleven bonuses available in the game; each of these bonuses makes life easier for your crew, like the addition of armored cars for safer drive-bys. Your ever-strengthening grip on the city will include businesses that need to pony up the cash if they want to keep operating, but you can’t ever turn your back on freshly captured territories. Thing is, you won’t be the only tough guy on the block, so as soon as you step on someone’s toes and take over a particular area, the rival family will want revenge. And this brings us to another strategy aspect of the game: if you want to keep your stranglehold on a business or crime ring in a certain area of the city, you’ll have to place guards at that location. And if you lose what you initially won, your hard-earned bonus disappears, as does the added benefit of the ill-gotten income.
As for the battle mechanic, it seems EA is trying a little something new. The right and left shoulder buttons will control your right and left arm, and if you use both arms, you can grab hold of a foe. Combine this with the right analog stick, and you can really inflict some pain. You can knock him about and even toss him into something hard (say, a wall?), and if you want to get really nasty, it’s time to break out the firearms. You will find a free-aim system in The Godfather II , which lets you pinpoint particular parts of an opponent’s body; you can shoot out their kneecaps to cause them to buckle, or you can shoot their arms to get them to drop their weapons. When you’re holding a weapon and you’re close to a violent dissenter, you will have the option of performing an execution-style kill, and this is also governed by the right analog stick. The type of kill will be dependent on the position of the victim (whether he’s standing or not) and the weapon in your hand, so you can expect some pretty nasty results if you’re carrying something especially devastating. But such is the world when you opt to be part of a crime family, right? This brutality shouldn’t be surprising.
As for the weapons themselves, they will advance along with you and your allies. You will be able to find higher level weapons – a Lv. 3 Tommy Gun is obviously more effective than a Lv. 2 Tommy Gun – but you can also level ‘em up yourself, provided you’ve got the resources. All that money you drag in from your various crime rings and business payoffs can be used to upgrade your firearms; as gaming veterans might expect, you’ll be able to increase aspects like damage inflicted. It appears that the purpose of the game centers squarely on your ability to gain and hold control over as much of the city as possible, and all without dying in a shootout with the flatfoots. We haven’t heard much about how the cops will act in this one, but perhaps they’re as open to corruption as politics and industry, so you could gain an advantage there, too. You’ll have to recruit effectively, hope your crew can hold their own, and we get the feeling that if you attempt to expand your empire too quickly, everything can collapse in record time. Essentially, you have to be both patient and ambitious. This is a balancing act that some gamers have never been able to grasp…
Anyway, The Godfather II is scheduled to release some time this February, and we’re very encouraged based on our research. The original title was really quite entertaining, and only a few significant technical glitches kept it from becoming a purchase-worthy title. With all the upgrades and enhancements we’re finding in the sequel, we could be in for a fantastically in-depth and satisfying experience. EA already proved they could do something special this generation with Dead Space , so why can’t they do it again?