Let's be clear: this isn't The Godfather. The movies and the book emphasised talk over violence; violence was the last resort of the Don and most of the action happened off-screen. The Don built up his influence not with random acts of violence, but by using his nous. Capisce?
This game is different from the off; the game is tortuously violent and when the Mafiosi go to the mattresses, there's more blood and bodies than in a Catholic mass. Torn between the twin attractions of Grand Theft Auto and Don Vito, EA has made something that's neither one nor the other, but a passable imitation of both.
You play the son of a murdered soldier for the Corleone family who's taken under Luca Brasi's wing. Your role is to witness all the events of the movies from the sidelines (and a lot of lengthy and patronising cutscenes) and kill off the hundreds of extra gangsters that appear from nowhere, whilst working alongside the heroes from the movie. Then you drive about, intimidate shopkeepers into giving you money, moider members of opposing families, do hits, and so on.
Combat is passably fun; as well as beating up on people, you can throw them about, threaten them, use the scenery against them, throttle them, and so on. Using firearms, you can aim at critical areas of your enemies and, when they're at death's door, perform a range of violent executions. There's a good variety of weapons to use, all upgradeable, and you get a range of Achievements to go with them. That said, it's not exactly difficult and levelling up makes you something of a killing machine.
As the plot progresses you wipe out the other families and rise up the ranks of the Corleone family, meeting all the (well-modelled but terribly rendered) familiar faces on the way. As you approach the end of the game, there seems to be little incentive to make yourself Don of all New York. Take over all the rackets, grab all the warehouses, nobble all the hubs - if you do all this, there's nothing left to do!
The question is, can a game that's an old film licence be a good game? The answer is, 'Yes, but this game doesn't pull it off.' It uses the assets supplied by the movies well, and attempts the 'negotiation' aspects (which are passable but repetitive).
The overall focus of the game however, is violence. There's nothing wrong with this, but the beauty of the Godfather films was seeing these beasts of men, with a tremendous capacity for viciousness, endlessly restraining themselves and trying to achieve their aims through negotiation.
The unique moments of the movie weren't the gunfights, but the horse's head in the bed, Fredo's and Sonny's murders off camera, and so on. Ultimately, the game's body count moves it away from the film and makes it more like a poor man's GTA.