An Edition You Can’t Refuse
The Godfather: The Don’s Edition for the Sony PS3 is the updated version of EA’s forage into the open world crime genre. Lots of content and missions have been added this time around as well as the addition of the “Blackhand” control scheme through Sony’s Sixaxis controller. There are very few major changes to this title, but the sum of the parts does equal a lot more fun.
For those of you who are not familiar with EA’s Godfather, it is not dissimilar to Rockstar’s GTA series. They are both open worlds with an emphasis on organized crime and the seedy underbelly of American society. The major difference between the two games is their settings. The Godfather is set in New York City in the decade immediately following WWII. You will play as a young man left fatherless at a young age by the hands of the Barzini family. Don Vito Corleone himself tells you to hold back your tears and to exact your revenge when the moment is right. You grow up strong and wise to the streets. You are brought into the Corleone family and soon will become one of their enforcers. Throughout the game, you will make a name for yourself within the family by taking out their rivals, earning money through illegal rackets, and extortion. You will gain respect throughout the neighborhood and indeed throughout the whole of New York City by operating methodically through the underworld. Over time, you will gain essential skills that will make you a made man. You may even become the Don of all of New York with a little luck and a ruthless bent.
The revamped control scheme is an integral part of The Don’s Edition. EA calls the retooled controls the “Blackhand.” This is EA’s way of describing the integration of motion sensing technology into the Godfather. Sony’s Sixaxis controller has not yet been fully put to the test; this game does test the controller, however, the results are poor. I give the motion sensing controls, as executed in this game, a D+. The plus is for the ideas and effort, but the D is for the implementation. There are so many really interesting ideas here that try to bring the player into the game. For example, using motion controls to perform head-butts, to throw people up against walls, to crack open registers with their heads, and to slam their faces with a double-fisted overhead strike could all be really fun and induce a sense of realism. Lamentably, trying to pull these moves off in a predictable way is next to impossible. Instead of bringing the gamer deeper into the character, it is a painful reminder that this is just a clunky game. The motion controls are very unpredictable and don’t fully achieve their aim of making the game more engaging. On the other hand, the performance of the standard controls is good. It is very easy to negotiate your way through the world. Tasks such as driving cars, shooting guns, sneaking about, changing weapons, taking cover, and altering camera angles are all done in a very user-friendly way. You will advance through the missions easily without ever complaining of control issues. Another concern, albeit a small one, is you won’t be able to change the mapping of the controls to your liking. For instance, I would have mapped the shooting controls to the R2 button as it most accurately represents a trigger. This cannot be done, but the game suffers only mildly from this. All in all, the controls in this game are good but they could have been magnificent.
Graphically, the game is not good. All of the crisp, tuned-up graphics we expected are simply not there. Some of the character faces are sharper. Cutscenes look good but are by no means great. There aren’t any frame-rate issues, and box splintering looks good. Fire animations are pretty bad, except for major explosions, which are impressive. Non-player characters, excluding story-specific persons, are painfully repetitive. Brothels seem to be loaded with triplets, and all of the jerks on the street that make comments when you walk past are exactly the same. Character modeling of key players in the story is spot on and you can tell that a good deal of attention was paid to making them look like the real actors. Facial damage is also a new addition. After a tough fight your character will look worse for the wear and eventually will become scarred for his efforts. Additionally, day-time and character shadows have been improved based on sun position and lighting. These small refinements don’t amount to much however. Generally, this game looks fuzzy. It does not look to be of the next generation ilk by any stretch of the imagination. You are not going to find anything here that truly outperforms the PS2 version. The graphics are as good as they have ever been for the series, but are not as intensely rich as PS3 owners expect them to be. This is a missed opportunity for EA. Lots of money was saved by porting the game, but PS3 owners are looking to put their systems to the test, not to just play new content.
The amount of new content brought to The Don’s Edition is impressive. New vehicles, side missions, expanded areas, hit squads, and character progression all make this game much deeper. There is a lot more to do in this version and the new branching character development almost makes it feel like an RPG. No, you’re not going to have to incessantly manage inventory but you can choose the way in which you want your character to deal with the world around him. For example, if you want to break skulls like Luca Brasi then go ahead and make your character an enforcer by strengthening combat attributes. However, if you want to pull the strings like Don Corleone himself, then you need to become an operator. As you progress through the game not only will you choose which attributes to develop, you will also be given perks that will make your character even more powerful and specialized. For example, getting the unlimited ammunition perk by putting 30 points into enforcement will more than come in handy.