The mix of strategy and familiar sandbox action works well once you’ve built up a big enough army. The sense of managing your family is superbly captured, and whereas progression in many open-world games stops at you gaining better weapons and armour, in The Godfather II you genuinely get the sense of ever-growing power and momentum. Unfortunately there are too many mechanics which aren’t equal to these factors.
The early caps imposed on your family, for instance, are frustrating to work around when you need to. The one remaining job in New York required a particular skill set we didn’t have thanks to a tough fight earlier on. Our options were either to stand around for ten minutes while the necessary goon became available, or mark one of our gang for death, brutally murder the poor schmuck and then search our rackets for a suitable replacement for the family tree’s empty slot. Harsh.
Technological shortcomings don’t help matters either. Besides the sense that The Godfather II wouldn’t have looked out of place onlast-gen hardware(apart from some incredi-explosions, that is) there are nigglesthat simply shouldn’t be present. Dominic peppered with machine gun fire which he ignores when a cut-scene is triggered without the coast being clear? Check. Trapping ourselves in a single-roomed building thanks to a combination of car parking and doors opening away from you – the solution to which is either ordering a car bomb or reloading your last save? Check. Framerate and physics coding taking cigarette breaks whenever they feel like it? (Sigh.) Check. Whereas Saints Row 2’s hiccups were mostly funny, The Godfather II’s are simply annoying and frequently get in the way of your questing.
There’s an overbearing sense of ‘last gen’ about The Godfather II. In the wake of The Lost and Damned’s quality and Saints Row 2’s unadulterated, joyous stupidity, EA’s attempt suggests an uneasy third way – joining the serious tone of Rockstar’s epic with the inferior quality of THQ’s open-world roamer and falling well behind both as a result. But swallow your distaste for its looks and you’ll uncover a surprisingly novel twist on the genre. While it may not be a Godfather or a Goodfellas by IMDB’s lofty standards, at the very least it’s a pretty decent Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Apr 7, 2009