Imagine a really nice cut of beef; the type that makes a steak of legend. We’re talking the type that sells for about three arms and a leg. When it comes to intellectual properties, that’s The Godfather. It’s ripe for adaptation with thrilling moments, deep characters, and a thought-provoking plot. Unfortunately, EA decided to grind this beef into a hamburger. Godfather II is generic and artistically void, but it’s downright enjoyable. It’s not anything close to its potential, but it still succeeds in its own right. This is the most mouthwateringly awesome hamburger you will ever taste.
Players take the role of Dominic as they rise in the ranks from a one man family to one worthy of a Corleone. Along the way, Dominic will be involved with events from the cinematic classic. These moments feel forced, but they are a far cry from the inevitable mess when the game decides to write its own plot. Even still, the story is a disaster. The events that transpire outside the movie are uninspired and laughable.
The real Michael Corleone’s (Al Pachino) absence affects the game negatively. For anyone who holds the movie on a pedestal (most of the target audience for the game), it doesn’t feel like The Godfather. Some of the rest of the cast’s involvement is a great addition (like Robert Duval), but I wish Pachino would have allowed for his likeness to be used.
Godfather II plays like a sandbox / real time strategy hybrid. For those who played the first, it’s a nice upgrade, and for those of you who missed out, it’s more or less similar to GTA or Saints Row. While the story was disappointing, the games single player campaign excels. You begin with a small family, and as you progress you add new members. These soldiers are your weapons in the game, with each possessing a skill that you can use to change how the game plays. For instance, a demolitions man can break down walls, an arsonist can start fires to distract enemies, and engineers can cut the power or create new entrances by cutting down wire fences. There are six classes in all, and as your soldiers are promoted in your family, they can learn new skills.
The driving mechanic feels off. For one, drifting apparently isn’t possible in cars from the 1950’s. It would have been a lot more fun if the cars were more responsive like in titles like GTA and Saints Row. Unlike GTA, there are no forced, clumsy drive-by shootings. Instead, you can just click the left bumper and your men will attack your enemies.
The missions are simple. So simple in fact, that the majority of them are predicated upon the same thing. You attack a building, kill the current family occupying it, and threaten the life of the owner to pay you for protection. Thankfully, attacking the same building two to three times doesn’t feel old. On top of this, you can send your men to take over the building remotely, while you work on other concerns. The Don’s View, which allows you to view the whole city and tell your men to attack or defend a location, isn’t important at first but becomes more valuable once you operate in multiple cities. Once you add a consigliore to your arsenal, he can advise you on your odds of success.
The game’s gun play works well; but not so well that you can run the whole game alone. Your family is essential in fight. Each of your made men equates to a couple normal guards. However, this is also true for your enemies. After taking over a building you have the option of paying for guards to protect your investment. This can get costly, so you’ll need to take into consideration what buildings are really worth keeping. You can also send a member of your family to help defend the location.
In order to be successful, you need to plan your hits. If you (or your enemy) control all of one business, you will receive a nice perk, such as bullet proof armor, cheaper guards, or armored cars. You need to watch out as your enemies can also own devastating monopolies. If your opponent has a perk that is really wrecking you, you can send your men to bomb one of their properties.
The game succeeds in keeping a mobster feel. To remove rival families made men, you will need to do favors for citizens who can then tell you the men’s weakness and location. When in combat, the opportunity often arises to conduct execution-style killings, which are violently brutal and utterly satisfying. On the same subject of beautiful violence, the game’s explosions are brilliant – and the best looking part of the game.
Unfortunately, the game’s multiplayer is forgettable and laughable. The modes are imbalanced and unoriginal. Players coming in with upgraded soldiers and weapons will thrash newcomers. This isn’t the only issue, either. Even when the game is balanced it just isn’t fun. Multiplayer in Godfather II is a missed opportunity.
All told, the game is extremely enjoyable. While not the Godfather II game it could’ve been, it is a nice mobster title. You’ll feel like a Don, but it doesn’t do the movie justice (which is, to be fair, nearly impossible). If you’re looking for a fun sandbox title that makes you feel like you’re in control, you could do much worse. The game doesn’t push any boundaries and the plot is poorly written, but it’s downright enjoyable. Godfather II isn’t the mouthwatering steak it could have been, but it will tide you over until your next real meal.