Something to perk up your interest: "First things first. This is heavily Inspired by Mafia," The Godfather's creative director Philip Campbell outlines in his enthusiastic Irish burr, practically answering our first question. So let's not get caught up in the GTA-isms, what Coppola thinks or whether or not Brando is in it (which he is). Beyond the mission structure that has your random joe interacting with the Corleone clan, we've just been fairly taken aback by the way your everyday life as a gangster is set to play out.
Y'see, there are 150 shops in the game whose owners you can intimidate into paying you protection, and 100 racketeering opportunities where you can muscle in on gambling, drinking and whoring establishments the city over.
To intimidate these butchers, bakers, candlestick-makers and pimps, you can start off by smashing up his gaff - throw a pedestrian through the shop window, take a baseball bat to the display cases or slam the shopkeeper's face into the till. All the time, the pressure on the NPC will be building; press the right buttons and he'll be in your pocket, push him too far and the place will be shut down for a week of game-time as punishment.
The really cool stuff, however, is the way that you're interacting with your inferiors while turning up the heat. Holding down your two main mouse buttons will have you grab the unfortunate in front of you; pushing forward on the mouse will shove them into walls; and pulling back will raise your fist in a threatening manner.
In this way, while tapping the spacebar and barking dialogue into the poor NPC's face at will, the entire shakedown procedure is made real through mouse movement. A swing to the right and a left-click will let you throw people across roads and into moving traffic, tapping the WSAD keys provides headbutts, punches and uppercuts relevant to your positioning. It's a complete inversion of generic PC controls, yet it works well, culled from the controls of EA sports games like the Tiger Woods series.
This process of intimidation brings notoriety and cash to the fledgling gangster you've designed through the ever-handy EA hoodlum-haircut-o-tron character design system - but it's far from secure. In a Risk-style turf battle that persists long after the storyline proper has ended, four rival families will be firebombing and intimidating yourown businesses. With a far more complicated and reactive system to the weak gang war sections of San Andreas, and with options that allow you to pay off cops to increase pressure on other families, it's yet another layer of longlasting Godfather goodness that we weren't quite expecting.