I’m not really a fan of The Godfather. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good movie, just not one I care to watch over and over again. But when it comes to the reissued Godfather: Don’s Edition for the Playstation 3, I really start to understand what I’m missing.
Based on the classic Coppola movie, Don’s Edition takes a Grand Theft Auto base and adds an authentic mob look and feel to really create something special. The initial scenes paint the troubled life you belong to; when your father is ruthlessly gunned down by a rival gang in front of your eyes, Don Corleone lets you know your revenge will come in time. Now, as an adult, that time has come. But first you must prove yourself to the family and to the outside world.
Usually movie games are limited organisms that add minor levels between major movie plot points, but with The Godfather you really get the best of the movie in a solid game. The depth of the movie is all here, subplots are expanded and minor characters play major roles within the game. On top of that, beautifully executed voice talent and music really puts you at center stage of the drama; when the family has problems, you care. Unfortunately, it is pretty noticeable that Al Pacino is missing from the context, and anyone slightly familiar with the films, this may be a sore point throughout the game. As much of a bummer that is, it still doesn’t dampen the transition of action from the silver screen to the small screen. The game deserves kudos simply for not ruining a franchise, so the game lives up to its title and then some.
Game mechanics are very stylized. In trying to capture the brutal nature of the material, the game controls break from the norm to offer multiple ways of dealing with your environments, as well as your enemies. Standard fare is the control of guns: you can take someone down quick by showing them the business end of a shotgun, but if you need to be more subtle, there are a plethora of alternatives available to you. You can pistol whip someone, or attempt to shoot someone’s gun arm just to get them to back down or release a hostage. Many times I got too excited and just over-killed somebody (literally) when I should have been interrogating them, but thankfully the game has discreet checkpoints that I can use to try again.
If you really want to get someone’s attention, you can go hand-to-hand, or baseball bat-to-face. The controls get a little bit more complicated but the results are completely worth it; once you begin grappling with someone you have a variety of methods to knock them around. With the R3 knob you can wind up punches and jabs, or you could use the SIXAXIS controller to pick your opponent up, slam them against a wall, bash their head onto a desk or just throw them across the room. The last one is my favorite, just for the strategically placed electric boxes that prove to be awesome ways of quickly dispatching your enemies. Some of these animatics were reminiscent of God of War – fluid breaks from the norm that accentuate the larger game.
Playing in New York in the 1930’s, you are given the entire city to roam through, giving you plenty of opportunity to raise your respect, and persuade businesses that they need your protection. All of these sidequests are worthy distractions from the main line, but just don’t get too far ahead of yourself, as you are very vulnerable without a posse in the beginning. Because the world is so big, you do have to deal with a significant load time before you head out. As sucky as it was sitting through that, it was worth it to just be able to roam with out additional load screens as I delved into businesses and found their illicit goings on in the backrooms.
As solid as the game is, I still can’t help but look at it as a next-gen port. While the SIXAXIS controls and the additional missions are a bonus the graphics are sub-par for the PS3. Even the slight bump up from the PS2 graphics causes it to be heads below other PS3 titles. But like I said before, what is lacking in visual appeal is more than made up with ambiance in the form of music and voice acting.
If this game didn’t already exist on the last-gen consoles it would definitely be a purchase, but because it does and there isn’t a significant overhaul to design, The Godfather is really just a rental. Bottom line: if you already own the older version, you may want to think seriously about whether it is worth it to upgrade; for me the answer is no. But, if you already don’t own this game then you probably want to pick it up to enhance your PS3 collection as this genre is pretty absent on this console until GTA IV comes out later.
Whether you add it to your collection or not, The Godfather: Don’s Edition is worthy of respect as a worthwhile licensed game that scratches a specific itch with satisfaction, albeit with a lot of blood. Welcome to the family.