EA’s previous attempt at bringing The Godfather films to consoles culminated in a solid if unspectacular effort. A number of decent ideas clashed with poor and downright broken elements which ultimately left us with a title that was a long way from the quality of the first film.
The Godfather II, sadly, heads in much the same direction. Again there are a number of fantastic ideas, but also much more freedom than the previous title. But technically this is terrible for a major release and ultimately staggers way short of greatness long before its short storyline rounds up.
After a brief introduction and shoot out in Cuba, you find yourself in control of Dominic, who suddenly finds himself the leader of the Corleone family in New York. Unfortunately New York has fallen under the rule of a rival boss, and what could easily be considered a 2 hour tutorial plays out which displays all the various tools you have in your armoury.
One of the first things you’re required to do is to help your "family" grow. Various characters are eager to join a fully fledged crew, each of which packs a specific skill which can come in handy as you attempt to take over. Everything from medics, to explosive experts and safe crackers are just waiting to be recruited and building your family attempts to be the main crux of the game.
Once you have a team of men, you can utilise the money that you extort and gain from the less legal sides of the business to upgrade their skills and weaponry. You can even promote them through your own ranks, until one member eventually acts as your consigliere.
But each character simply lacks personality. Though the first half dozen characters you chat to with regards to joining your crew will seem firmly unique, soon their chatter will repeat at an alarming rate, leaving your crew feeling much more expendable.
As you progress you’ll be forced to utilise strong arm tactics. Thankfully you’ve a healthy amount of weaponry to choose from, with shotguns and handguns feeling particularly powerful and impressive. Automatic weapons however feel mysteriously underpowered, and it seems to take an unhealthy number of bullets to down an enemy. The targeting system locks you to one opponent, and you can tweak your aim to go for the immediate kill, but the lack of real cover system and the downright ease in which you’ll slaughter rooms full of enemies make the on-foot sections feel mightily poor.
On the road however the action is far, far poorer. All vehicles are terribly slow, which can easily be explained away via the periodic setting. But that doesn’t clarify why each car feels like you’re driving a milk float on sheet ice.
What’s most jarring however is the manner in which you discover just how to take out the main men of other families. To soften them up for the final assault, you can find out information about where your enemy hangs out, and just how they should be taken out in order for them to depart from the world entirely. But instead of this information being extracted from kidnapped soldiers from rival families, or infiltration of the gang, it instead comes from random members of the public. You simply approach a random character with the required icon above their heads, mention they seem like they need help, and you’ll need to help them out in a small and easy manner for them to suddenly divulge all this sensitive information. It’s downright ridiculous.
Thankfully taking over businesses does work. Once you find out just what you need to do to make the owner beg for mercy, you’ll have yet another source of income. A large amount of cash will head back out with recruiting security to look after all these businesses, as rival families will happily attack and attempt to claim them as their own. Manage to bag a complete set of similarly themed areas of commerce and you’re family will receive a boost. It could be brass knuckles, body armour, or many other variations. But each is handy enough to make you eager to claim the entire set.
Technically, The Godfather II is downright shocking. The various cities you’ll venture into are consistently empty and lifeless, lacking any real character of visual clarity. Textures are average at best, with car headlights in particular looking akin to something you’d expect to find in a PS1 title. Enemy AI is almost non-existent, with each seemingly having no regard as to their own lives. They’ll happily stand just waiting to be cut down.
While being in complete control of a family does feel Don-like, The Godfather II is a long way from top of the family. Technical flaws aplenty, a short story, and some of the poorest driving witnessed in modern gaming culminate in a title that simply doesn’t deserve your time.
A shame as it does pack a few ideas that could work well in a better developed title.