The Godfather

EA have somehow managed to secure voice recordings and the likeness of Marlon Brando, despite the notable hindrance of him having been dead for some time now.

Feature by Josh Wilson | 17 Mar 2006
Debates rage on over the general principles involved here. A conversion from book to film can be dubious. Obviously there are exceptions, The Godfather being one of them. But can this film be converted into an interesting-playable game, more so than regular cash-cow movie tie-ins (majority of Star wars games)? Francis Ford Coppola – the director of the movies, has denounced the game. But since then EA has put the title back several months to tweak and polish the title…

As with any good movie/game conversion, EA has secured the likeness and voice capabilities of several of the original movie's characters. You can be safe in the knowledge that James Caan and Robert Duvaal (Sonny Corleone and Tom Hagen respectively) have dedicated their faces and voices to add authenticity to the conversion. On top of these two, EA have somehow managed to secure voice recordings and the likeness of Marlon Brando, despite the notable hindrance of him having been dead for some time now.

As well as characters, there will be a rather sizeable replica of 1945 New York for you to be able to take over, as you wipe out the other four families, and rise through the ranks to become the Don. All this occurs as a side plot to the first movie, with the major characters dipping in to add some spice every now and again. Though god knows how you can become the Don without disrupting the original plot somewhat.

This slight discrepancy aside, the game does seem to be coming along. With such a big title, it was probably a good idea that EA decided to delay, to add some more shine. And from what I can see, Coppola could be wrong yet. The game has you joining the Corleone family as a young upstart. So you must begin at the bottom. After creating your mob character, you then head out onto the streets to start gaining respect and land for the Family. You begin by 'swaying' local business men, this involves dishing out some (rather GTA inspired) beatings. As you go about this, a persuasion:brutality ratio seems to come into effect; more respect for beatings, but there will be less profits if the shop is trashed and the owners dead. From there you can start to bribe or sway the police, each will tend to corruption on a different level. So you may need some creative persuasion to convince them. But when you have the local police in your pocket, you can smash some heads in, in public, or maybe throw someone off a balcony - to convince them it may well be in their interests to let you protect them.

Fights seem comprehensive, with a variety of moves available: you can use your head or theirs, bashing it off objects or with them. Or maybe you want to go for a long-range kill, but this will earn you less respect. Which is what the game is all about, you get more respect for getting involved, and less for sending a pleb to deal with it for you. More respect allows for easier swaying, and the enemy is less likely to send a squad to gun you down if they fear the repercussions.

As you gain respect and territory you go up the ranks of the Corleone Family, and if you survive opposition vendettas, you can eventually become The Don. And no one can argue that that wouldn't be nice. Whether or not the game is, however, we'll have to wait and see. There is a lot of promise, but it's a big game of big ambitions for a well known and loved movie. Standards will be high and there is a lot here that could end up sub-standard. However, there is no real way to tell until release, will it be a Phantom Menace (turd) or a Knights of the Old Republic (awesome)? [Josh Wilson]
For PS2/PC/Xbox. Released on March 24.