The Godfather II Interview
Game Facts: Systems: X360, PS3, PC | Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Redwood Shores | Release Date: Apr. 7, 2009
Interview with Joel Wade,
Senior Producer of The Godfather II
by Jonathan Marx
Apr. 7, 2009 – Ahead of its imminent release, we got a chance to quiz Senior Producer Joel Wade on the ins and outs of The Godfather II video game. Combining strategic play with visceral action and incorporating the multiplayer offering seamlessly with the single-player campaign, The Godfather II looks like it will improve upon the very fun original in every way!
JW: Joel Wade – Senior Producer of The Godfather II
CCC: Cheat Code Central
CCC: Should we consider Godfather II to be mostly an open-world action title, heavily strategy-based, or is it truly an amalgamation of the two?
JW: At its heart, Godfather II is still very much an action game. Blackhand combat, especially the visceral grabbed attacks and executions, was one of the more heralded aspects of the first game. But… we never really felt like we paid off on the feeling of truly being a Don – getting to make strategic decisions and calling all the shots for your family. So, adding a strategic layer on top of the high action became our focus this time around.
We attacked this in several ways: Firstly, allowing you to build and customize your entire organized crime family from the ground up. Over the course of the campaign, you’re going to hand-pick each Made Man that works for you, invest in their RPG skills, promote them up through the ranks, customize their clothing – even eliminate them if you find a stronger replacement.
Now that you have some faithful employees, it’s time to go to war against the other families and rebuild the glory of the Corleone empire. Here the new Don’s View presents the player with a glimpse of what we imagine would be contained in the Don’s mind – the status of his family, his rivals’ families, and all the rackets in the world. You’ll use it to plan your next moves, hunt down your enemies, and deploy your men.
CCC: Please, explain the idea behind controlling a crew of family enforcers. How will this play out? In what areas will we be able to improve our crew of goombas? Will we be able to lose them to treachery? Can they get too powerful for their own good? Etc.
JW: In so many games you’re always a “lone wolf” – one man against the world. That’s not terribly satisfying if you’re a Don… so we put a tremendous amount of effort into all aspects of building your family. As I said, you’ll be finding recruits in the world, and hiring them personally if you like their skills. Most recruits start out with one specialty – arsonist, safecracker, bruiser, etc – and a basic weapons license, that you’ll use to your advantage when taking over illegal rackets or storming rival family compounds. Once they’re hired, however, you’ll able to continually upgrade their abilities either by promoting (and therefore training them in an additional specialty), or by directly investing in their skills. Each Made Man has over a dozen skills that you can apply your hard-earned cash towards, such as their recovery times, firearm skills, hand to hand combat, etc. By the time you’ve promoted one of your men to Underboss, he’ll be quite the bad-ass compared to your soldiers.
The coolest part, however, is how you can control your men. At any time, you’ll be able to have up to three of them travel with you as your crew and follow your orders with simple squad commands (though they’ll take cover and defend themselves when they need to so you don’t need to babysit them). Or you can choose to have them attack, bomb, or defend a business elsewhere. You’re the Don – it’s your call.
Your men will be untiringly loyal to you… but that doesn’t always apply in reverse. On occasion, you’ll find the rare recruit in the world who already has two specialties, or has an upgraded weapon license and can handle more firepower. Then it will be decision time – should you off the loyal medic soldier who’s already revived you countless times in battle, just so you can replace him with someone stronger? It’s only business after all…
CCC: In the original game, brutal combat was part and parcel of bending shopkeepers to your will and establishing the family as the preeminent crime organization in the city. How will hand-to-hand combat and firefights be handled this time around?
JW: For BlackHand combat the biggest innovation is the addition of a combo system. When building the Wii version of the original game, we really became fond of allowing the player to consistently associate the buttons and trigger on the left hand with attacks from your character’s left hand, and vice versa. So now, pulling the left and right triggers can launch brutal left and right combos. But we still really wanted to retain the ability to fight with the analog stick and unleash grabbed attacks, so by “grabbing” your opponent with both triggers, you can shift to the analog sticks to use head-butts, knee attacks, strangle them, and, of course, toss your enemies to the floor (or into oncoming traffic).