You finished GTAIV and had $1 million sat in your virtual bank, but nothing to spend it on. Not so with Godfather II. The finance system and core goals of building a crime empire mean that all your cash is sucked back into funding your army of Made Men, arming your goons to the teeth and bribing the crooked local DA. Any spare change you have left can be spent on some swanky new clothes.
"I equate it to Madden," says Smith. "It's like you're the coach and the player. You can be the coach all you want, but
at some point, you've got to take to the field." The split is roughly 75% free-roaming gunplay and 25% strategy and RPG. When you're playing a sandbox game you do find yourself continually clicking onto the map screen to decide where and what to do next.
The idea in Godfather II is that while on the map screen you can do so much more than simply tag a waypoint. From there, you can gain an overview of your empire, the six rival Families and your progress in the game. You can upgrade your own character (Dominic), develop stats, weapons, clothing, etc or even upgrade your hired hands and Family members.
There are numerous categories, from foot soldiers to Made Men - the ultimate general. These guys also have hidden attributes that can come in handy; for example an ex-con can escape from jail should the cops catch you, or a jewel thief will add crucial extra value to your diamond smuggling racket.
The idea is simple, to create multiple layers of options and stats to tinker with in order to eventually be the biggest crime Family in the game. The open-world is rife with jewel thieves and ex-cons, not to mention gun runners, boozers and engineers.
All of these characters can be recruited, assigned to rackets and taken on missions to takeover rival operations, with the end goal of creating money- spinning monopolies. The more money you earn, the larger your Family gets and the closer you get to taking control of all six of the game's Families. The last story missions always concern taking over a rival's 'compound' (their Family home). You can do this in a number of ways.
Weakening a rival Family is a complex business. For example, simply taking over territory (oil refineries, nightclubs, smuggling operations) will hit your rival's income and his ability to finance an army of thugs. A more savvy weakening technique comes from digging deeper into the game's sandbox environment. Hunting out a rival's Made Man (a Family's top man) and assassinating him will weaken any Family.
To take down a Made Man you'll need to a) find him b) find is weakness and c) call on outside help. All of which can be achieved by threatening local shop owners and doing favours for the city's officials. Eventually you'll find your man and indulge in a bit of violence.
Interestingly, just 'killing' an opponent sends them to the hospital to recover, and soon enough they'll be back on the streets. But kill them by meeting an individualised bonus criteria (throwing someone off a roof or smashing their face into an oven) sees them leave the game for good - heading to the big delete button in the sky. And don't forget, the CPU Families will be hunting your Made Men out in the same way.
Levelling up your character
This bonus kill set-up was in the original Godfather, as was the Black Hand control method, but now it means something. You need to master Black Hand and discover a character's weaknesses to progress the game. New moves in your arsenal are the arm break, a knee to the groin and a neck chop. These and more are unlocked by levelling up your character and developing new ways to play the game at ground level - such as learning stealth attacks in order to sabotage a racket secretly.
"The story game drags you back into the strategy game and progressing there takes you back into the main story," says Smith as he begins to take me through one example of how to takeover a Family's racket. At the tap of a button, an oil refinery is highlighted on the map, it zooms in and down to ground level and I'm immediately in Miami. A Cadillac is there to drive me and the three henchmen I've hired jump aboard.