The Godfather II Xbox 360 Review
I always liked Monopoly, particularly when I owned a lot of property; despite having not done anything illegal and forceful (such as holding one of my brothers heads down the toilet) to obtain it, playing the famous game made me feel as if I was a powerful Don. The Godfather II game is like Monopoly with mobsters, but as you may have already guessed, acquiring property involves guns and some roughing up of faces opposed to fake money and a bit of luck.
Having become the Don of New York city, the playable character from the original game is killed in the early stages of the second one. Taking control of new character, Dominic (who you can mould to your specifications), you are then charged with the responsibilities of Don and the property hoarding that comes with it. The voice acting is generally superb and the story is exciting, although fans of the film series will still have to deal with the fact that the Michael Corleone featured here is not the one as portrayed by Al Pacino, in both likeness and voice.
The Godfather II has quite a lot in common with the original game, although it does have its fair share of fresh content as well. This sequel still blends driving and on-foot action, it still has you extorting businesses for every penny you can get, making use of unsavoury executions (the Tommy Gun in the mouth looks rather painful), and spewing bullets as if they’re going out of fashion.
The ultimate goal is to build a powerful criminal empire, by taking over businesses: beginning your criminal career in a compact New York and later moving into a mini Florida and a tiny Cuba. The vast majority of missions demand your vicious domination, aiming to entirely take away the control of a rival family, and then assaulting and bombing them (because filling them full of lead just isn’t good enough) when they retreat to their compound. There’s also favours to do for random strangers, banks to rob and made men opposition to assassinate, most of which are optional side tasks outside of the main story. It’s the strategy elements which need the most explaining though, so please allow me to attempt to do just that.
So, like any power hungry Don, you’ll be taking over rackets and entire crime rings, and not only does this earn you some money for your pocket and to pay the guards (if you don‘t keep an eye on your funds, these guys can find themselves in the dole queue), but you’ll also receive some rather nice perks as well. Taking over one crime ring may earn you bigger ammo clips, whilst others include bullet-proof vests, armoured cars, cheaper guards and double the income. It’s a nice idea that may even make you think before you decide which business to conquer next, still, there’s a feeling that the strategy portion isn’t all it could have been.
The Don’s Eye View map feeds you the information you need, indicating which businesses you have a stranglehold on and which are owned by rival families. You can also bomb the businesses of said rival families from here, temporarily closing them down and perhaps taking away one of their perks for awhile. It’s also possible for you to send your made men (these guys can be found in your compounds or businesses, are class based, upgradeable with cash and can be promoted when the time comes) to attempt takeovers, and to manage the guards of each of your businesses from this useful screen.
Indeed, you don’t even have to be involved in taking a business from a rival families grasp, your made men can do it all for you whilst you lazily sit back and reap all the benefits. Of course, a more hands-on approach is possible, in which you can assemble a crew of three made men to accompany you, or you could always mix things up if you so wish: sending made men at one time and getting your hands dirty at another. As a powerful Don, the choice is always yours to be made.
Going with the more hands-on approach reveals that the game gives you a number of choices as to how to undertake missions and take property as your own. Perhaps you have the option of using one of your made men, who is handy with melee attacks, to bash a door down, or use a demolitions expert to blow up a weakness in a wall in order to gain access to an alternative route.
It’s just a shame that when you go for the lazy approach, your made men are so good at what they do: overcoming the odds, whilst the AI of the soldiers of rival families is pretty poor – they’re basically like normal guards that take a few more hits to down. It upsets the strategy elements somewhat, although not enough to ruin the game.
As for the basic game mechanics, on-foot is decent enough, although like GTA IV, why must we hold/tap a button to run? There’s an auto-aim, which can be adjusted with the right stick and works just as it should, a basic but serviceable cover mechanic, and a solid melee combat system. The driving on the other hand is largely a means to get you from one place to another, although it’s definitely fun and accessible.
The Godfather II is a curious blend of action and strategy, which isn’t entirely successful at what it does and is more unpolished (I’ve been stuck in the scenery a few times and pop-up is pretty bad) than I would have hoped it to be. That’s not to say that it’s a complete failure: the strategy side of things have some nice ideas, whilst the action is great. I could definitely see something like this being improved upon in the future, but for now it’s just good to be Don.