|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Redwood Shores||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 7, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
August 18, 2008 - Many fans of Mario Puzo's epic crime dramas have long wondered what it would be like to truly step into the shoes of a mob boss. The first Godfather game allowed players to start as a common street thug and work their way up the family ladder. While the game was good for what it was, it didn't satiate the desire to actually have complete control over your family's dealings. Thankfully, this is where Godfather II (GFII) steps in, finally giving players the chance to live out their fantasies of becoming the Don.
Picking up where the first game ended and covering the events from the second film, GFII sees you thrust into the position of the Don of New York. Since Michael Corleone is under intense investigation, he is forced to promote you to this position so he can keep a lower profile. Although you are named the Don of New York, the game will have you controlling and expanding the Corleone family's operations in 1960s versions of New York, Florida, and even Cuba. Unlike the first title, GFII's environments are not attempting to be geographically accurate, focusing instead on making the cities more manageable for gameplay purposes. From what was shown, it looks like there will be significantly more real estate in this game, and the environments also seem far less claustrophobic than that of its predecessor.
GFII will still be a third-person, open world game that plays similarly to the first title, with a few exceptions. The biggest difference will be a strategy element that puts players in direct control of what is going on in the game world. Players will need to utilize The Don's View, which is a zoomed out, three-dimensional representation of the world, to help take over the game's cities. From The Don's View, players will be able to see the game's businesses and rackets, who controls them, how many foes are guarding them, as well as being able to issue specific orders to your mob underlings. You will be able to order your mobsters to bomb businesses, take over rackets, and even defend things you've already taken over without ever having to get your own hands dirty. While this is a possibility, the game still encourages players to take part in these events. GF II's A.I. will notice when you are personally present, thereby giving your family a slight edge in confrontations when you come along for the ride.
Players will also be able to take crews with them when in the game world. Each crew member will have a special talent for demolitions, arson, engineering, or first aid and can also be directly ordered to use these abilities. A cohort with engineering talent may be able to cut fences, allowing you to sneak in behind enemies, while an arsonist can help you blow up fuel tanks and buildings. Players can also direct their crew's movements, allowing for the ability to flank opponents during firefights. The ability to directly control your squad looks like it could certainly add a new level of strategy to enemy encounters.
If players continue having troubles with missions, even with their team backing them up, there are alternatives to just jumping into the fight. GF II incorporates a new favor system that proves it is truly better to give than to receive. In the mission that was demoed for us at the recent EA event, the player went into a porn studio to meet with a sleazy DA. The DA asks you to smash up a rival's business in exchange for a favor that you get to cash in whenever you choose. The player completed the favor for the DA and then used that favor to call in a sting on the family who controlled the business that they were trying to take over. This resulted in a slightly easier firefight as some rival defenders were sentenced to jail time due to the sting. Aside from getting other families' flunkies thrown into the pen, we were also told of other types of favors ranging from getting out of jail to being given information and/or the locations of your rivals.
Taking over businesses plays a much larger role in this game than it did in the original. Not only is the money earned from these businesses more crucial, needing it to supply your family with weapons and to pay guards for your businesses to fortify them against enemy attacks, but there are other important benefits as well. Most notably, there are now crime rings that, once completely controlled, will greatly aid your family. Crime rings, such as gun running, are made up of several different rackets. Once the player controls every gun running racket in the city, they are rewarded with an ammo belt that will increase the amount of ammunition for all their guns. These rewards will only be useable while the player controls the necessary rackets, so maintaining these businesses is just as vital as taking them over.
The other major change that was noticed during this demo came in the slight alterations to the previous game's BlackHand controls. These controls have now been moved to the triggers and combos have been added. The examples given were as follows: Pressing R,R,R,L would result in breaking an enemies arm, while pressing L,L,L,R would have you punching your foe in the neck. It seemed like these moves could be pulled off fairly smoothly and easily, but we'll need some hands-on time with this title to be sure.
From what we were shown, GF II looks like it is shaping up to be a great follow up to the original. While the game was still fairly early in development, small touches such as vehicle damage and explosions were already looking great. It looks like many of the complaints from the first game are being addressed, and the hefty strategy-based additions to the gameplay should make this a more complete, deeper, and lengthier experience than its predecessor. Check back as more information becomes available about this game as its release date approaches.
CCC Staff Contributor