Don of an Integrated Experience
December 19, 2008 – When you buy a video game nowadays, you typically get two separate experiences in one package. On one hand, you have the single-player campaign that takes you through a normally linear, story-driven adventure.
The other hand is reserved for multiplayer, which is often completely disconnected from the single-player experience other than utilizing the same fundamental gameplay mechanics and perhaps the game’s main character. So why does logging countless hours online not have any effect on most game’s single-player exploits, or even vice versa? Fortunately, this is where Godfather II comes in, trying to make those long online outings actually enhance your offline experience.
In Godfather II you are playing as the Don, and, as such, you are able to recruit a crew of mobsters to do your bidding. You’ll find and recruit these characters throughout the single-player campaign, utilizing their individual skills such as demolitions or arson to complete missions and ultimately help your family prosper. While you will need to rely on your underlings in single-player, the multiplayer aspect of the game will actually have you controlling these same characters in a series of different modes.
There are four different team-based online modes in Godfather II, each with its own set of objectives. There is a standard team deathmatch mode that will have you trying to reach a certain number of kills before the opposing team. Fire Starter mode consists of trying to set the most objects, such as burn barrels and propane tanks, ablaze. Safe Cracker mode is fairly self-explanatory, having a slew of safes on each map that can be cracked to earn more money than your opposition. In this mode, you’ll also need to protect cracked safes to ensure they aren’t taken back by your enemies. Lastly, Assault mode provides each team with three assault points which need to be destroyed to be victorious.
Each of these modes, besides team deathmatch, is designed for you to use specific members of your crew. For example, in Fire Starter mode you’ll need to use one of your crew’s arsonists, and in Demolition mode you’ll need to bring along a demolitions expert. Some members of your crew will also have multiple abilities, meaning you can utilize them in whichever mode they possess the skills for. However, the best part of all of these modes is how they will ultimately affect the single-player experience after some play time.
All of the money earned in multiplayer from igniting objects, cracking safes, destroying assault points, and killing enemies will transition into your single-player campaign. This seems like a nice way to earn some extra cash while still enjoying a little friendly competition with human opponents. Not only will you get to keep the cash you’ve earned but the characters themselves can receive improvements by using them online. Online Honors are earned during online play and can be used to upgrade your characters’ abilities (such as lessening the amount of time it takes them to cut a fence or set a fire), give them new abilities, or even to unlock weapon licenses that will allow them to use better weaponry. This kind of mingling between single and multiplayer seems very intriguing, and I can’t wait to see how it ultimately works when the game is finally released this February.
However, in the limited time I was actually able to get my hands on the multiplayer portion of Godfather II it already seemed pretty solid. The action remained fast and fluid at all times, even with all sixteen players wreaking havoc at once. The fire created from numerous exploding propane tanks and thrown Molotov cocktails was especially beautiful to behold. Aside from these Molotovs, players can also expect to find a slew of weapons scattered around every map including Tommy Guns, shotguns, and sniper rifles. The wide variety of provided weaponry helps to ensure that most players will be able find a gun that suits their play style.
While there are only initially going to be six maps, the ones I had a chance to see provided an assortment of differing experiences. A few of the maps were quite large, with multiple levels and paths giving more strategic players a definite advantage. Then there are others like the Jungle Fortress. This is the smallest map in the game, and its matches can best be described as slightly controlled chaos. Due to its extremely limited real estate, players will need to be quick on the trigger and accurate while aiming if they hope to survive more than a few seconds.
The play mechanics themselves are fairly simple but function well. Setting fires, cracking safes, and destroying assault points requires little more than holding a button until an onscreen meter is filled or depleted fully. Going on a series of successful kills or completed objectives will result in a multiplier, signified by a green flame around the character’s feet. These multipliers will help you rake in the cash more quickly but will also be transferred to any opposing player who dispatches you. Players can also utilize cover to gain the upper hand on unsuspecting opponents or to at least help soak up some incoming damage.
Whenever a player is downed in a match, they will drop to their knees and a fifteen second timer will begin. If a teammate with the ability to heal can get there in time, then the player can be revived before dying. However, this also gives the opposing team a chance to perform an execution move on that player. Whenever a character is downed, an opponent can walk up to and execute them in an extremely brutal fashion. Each weapon will have its own unique maneuver, with the Tommy Gun providing one of my favorites. This one consists of putting the barrel in the downed player’s mouth and pulling the trigger, effectively blowing their jaws off. While you are performing these executions, your voice will also be the only one your victim can hear. This gives you roughly five seconds of their undivided attention to say whatever you like.
While it can sometimes be hard to get excited about the multiplayer portion of a game often usually thought of as a strictly single-player experience, Godfather II definitely has me intrigued. With its solid multiplayer gameplay, variety of modes, and direct influence on the campaign, EA may have gotten the formula just right. We’ll have to wait until February to know for sure but from what I’ve played, I’m definitely optimistic.
Movin’ On Up
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.