Monopoly: Godfather II Edition
I have to hand it EA this time. I believe it was about November that Fallout 3 came out, and it managed to keep me playing from 9 in the morning to 11 at night (almost straight) on a lazy Saturday. No other game between November and about 3 days ago has managed to keep my interest for that long. That’s right, The Godfather II has kept me entertained for 14 hours straight, and I’m as surprised as most of you probably are. And I need to get a life.
The first Godfather game was okay, nothing special in my opinion, but I will say that most of the Wii controls added to the experience. So naturally my expectations were low when I recieved The Godfather II from Gamefly 3 days ago. My low expectations were crushed minutes later, but crushed in a good way.
She Ain’t No Looker
I’d like to get this out of the way as soon as possible. If you’re a “graphics whore” unlike myself, then you’ll no doubt find much to hate in Godfather II. When I started the game up, and it got to the title screen, I found some fairly noticable framerate issues. Mainly just that the spinning sign was a little jumpy. This worried me, but when I got into the game, the problem did not present itself. Regardless, the graphics aren’t too impressive either, and yes, I’m gonna say it, this is no Grand Theft Auto 4 in terms of looks, or much else. Where GTA 4 featured a terrifically detailed world, most of The Godfather II’s buildings are copy pasted, and the textures aren’t all that great to look at.
The pop-in is also very noticable, with cars first showing up texturless and white, and then gaining their colors. It kind of reminded me of the way the world would glitch in Assassins Creed, and it actually slightly amused me. The main players in the story are all definitive in their voicework, and the locations all feature varied styles and vehicles. Also, sometimes whil walking on the second or third story of a building, I’d find a crack in the floor that I could see through. Not too weird considering the pop-in though, so I’ll let it slide.
I’m Gonna Make You An Offer…
I’m one of those people. The person whom, when talk of the Godfather movies begins, I’m drug in, and forced to reveal that I’ve never seen the movies. I chalk it up to the fact that neither of my parents were ever very fond of them, so we never owned them. Therefore, I can’t honestly make any comparisons between the events of the game, and the events of the movies. All I know is that the old Don was killed, and 6 months later I was put in charge of bringing back the Corleone name. After some exposition, I find out that I’m supposed to take over the city of New York in any way I can.
The act of monopolizing a city is much easier than it sound. My first building of note was a strip club. My single family member and I made our way into the house of ill repute, cleverly disguised as a bakery (not us, the strip club was disguised as a bakery). Downstairs, and past the nude women, I found the owner and went about roughing him up. As soon as I’d convinced him to let me run the joint, I began to make some income. Of course, this led to the problem of my competition having one less “racket” with which to do business. I hired a couple of guards, whom cost $100 a day, and was on my way to stardom.
New York was small. I dominated quickly, and once I had finished off the Rosato family, I was off to Florida. One look at my board game like map (aka Don’s View) of the city showed the daunting task that lay before me. 25 businesses to be extorted, taken over, and guarded, all while worrying about 2 rival families muscling in on the business I stole from them. I was also given the chance to expand my family, which I did graciously. I didn’t realize it at first, but any member of my family could be sent off to defend a business that was under attack. They would get there almost immediatly, even if the attack was in New York, while he had been by my side in Florida a second earlier.
Once you control all of the businesses in a crime ring, you’ll get a perk. Your first perk will be brass knuckles for all of your men, that includes guards of course. If your anything like me, you’ll plan out ahead of time what ring you’re gonna go after first. There’s incidiary bullets, bullet proof vests, and even discounted guard prices. Some of them aren’t available until later cities though, so just be patient.
Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?
Each family member has their own skill. These range from aronists, to medics, to safecrackers and beyond. When I was given the choice to pick my first “made man”, I chose a medic, and therefore wasn’t aware of what I was missing out on. As my family grew, so did its skillset. I promoted my medic to “Capo”, and he was allowed another skill. The final upgrade to Underboss (only available to one of my lackey’s) allowed for one more skill, giving him three total. Any player with at least half a brain will see that with one Underboss, and two Capos containing the six total skills, they won’t have anything in their way. You can cut power so that your rivals can’t call for back-up, blow up walls to gain access to buildings, and even have your “bruisers” stealth stab people in the back, which is always fun to watch.
With about 4 hours left of the campaign, I had a full crew, and I never had to worry about not being able to send someone off to defend a compound, because I had four soldiers whom I could deploy at a moments notice. My final 4 hours, (which were spent in Cuba by the way) were spent taking care of the final two families. You’re never told to deal with any one family first, so how you dominate the city is your own choice.
One of my favorite aspects of the game came after the generic side quests that could be picked up from the various denizens of the 3 cities. After either wrecking a business or killing or maiming someone, you gain a piece of information on how to kill one of your rivals family members permanently. You see, they can’t be killed by just a shot to the head, they have specific ways to die, or else it just won’t work. Ranging from executions involving baseball bats to tossing people off of buildings, I found these to in the very least be an entertaining way to actually mix things up with my killing, ya know, like a Don.
So, In Conclusion
As I said, the Godfather II won’t win any awards for its graphical superiority. I wouldn’t call it a downright ugly game, but Gears of War it ain’t. The thing is, Godfather II has an addictive quality that I chalk up to it being an every game. It has empire building, action, drama, assassination attempts, squad based shooting. Even the various “copy pasted” enviroments are mixed up by the fact that the developers blocked off certain ways into a place. Some would call these arbitrary barriers, and in essence they are, but at least it kept me from making the same approach into every single garage and diner.
The story isn’t anything to write home about either. All I know is that in 6 months, I haven’t played a (single player) game that’s managed to keep me on the screen when I knew I had more important things I could be doing. The Godfather II caught me completely by surprise, but what’s most surprising, is that I don’t think you should buy it.