The Mafia, eh? When they're not extorting money from local businesses, they're taking mistresses and killing each other in front of the kids. It's a romantic world, the most famous and well-respected film of which - after Mickey Blue Eyes of course - is The Godfather. You know the film even if you haven't seen it. Mention Francis Ford Coppola to a newborn infant, and he or she will say: "The one with the horse's head and the silent scream in the third film, right?"
Making a game of a film with such awesome stature could be seen as needless. This isn't Star Wars - there's no pod racing and Cantina Dance Dance Revolution included for the benefit of the games industry. Yet EA has taken it upon itself to bend the GTA formula to the plot of the film, add protection rackets and release The Godfather: The Game.
If you love the film, you'll feel an immediate sense of relief when you start the game - the facial detail is excellent. The cut-scenes are well-acted and lipsynched, as you've every right to expect with the late Brando on-board.
But as you go through the training missions, this relief will become muddled with a mild sense of discomfort. The hand-to-hand combat system is plainly designed for the analogue sticks of a console controller. Pull back to raise your fist, push forward to punch. Sounds intuitive. But translate that motion to a mouse, make it wildly unresponsive, and you'll need a square metre of desk space just to accommodate your own dumb flailing. The keyboard alternatives amount to a mute 'sorry about the mouse thing', and it's a real shame, because what could have been a natural way to chuck people around their own shop has been coated in treacly faff and fed to a fat clumsy idiot.
Extortion gives you a regular income to back up your mission earnings, and to get businesses under your wing, you have to 'negotiate' with the owner. Raise your fist, smash up the shop, kneecap a customer, it all serves to up your earnings (provided you don't go too far). It gives a good sense of progress, seeing the mini-map change as your empire grows. But as the only distinguishing feature between this and superior titles, it's just not enough.
My involvement in the game was constantly broken by stupid oversights. I spent the last of my money bribing an officer, yet somehow had the cash Luca needed to complete the mission. I drove over a member of the Corleone family, and he responded with a cheerful "watch out for this guy - he's going places". And my personal beef - vocal NPCs. Give them a wider range or shut them up. In five minutes of play, I heard, "Have you ever been to Topeka?" nearly 300 times. Maybe four.
I know they're not real people, I really do, it's just the sign of a great game when these possibilities are taken into account. This is based on a 34-year-old masterpiece, so it has a positive duty to be great, or not use the name. And it's not. It's not great at all.
I wanted so badly to be enjoying myself, with all the effort that had gone into the characters and likenesses, but I wasn't allowed to. And now I am cross.
Disrespectin' da family way
- Classic storyline
- Full facial excellence
- Designed for consoles
- Makes you look daft
- No, I haven't bloody been to Topeka
- Sad waste of the licence