Alright. I have to say something. Will someone please wake up Germaine Greer? She'll want to write some liberal flag waving anti-videogame essay on The Godfather 2. Seriously though, I've never committed so much random violence against so many women in a game before. I never thought I'd even write that sentence. But I have now.
Every side-quest in this game seems to revolve around punishing a women for sleeping around or casually backstabbing a fellow 'sister' for not treating her man right.
Does it make it right that you can slap a girl about the chops and throw her through a glass display case to James Brown's It's A Man's Man's Man's World?
Swim with the fishes
One thing is certain; EA is trying hard to bring the world of gangsters, crime rings and criminality, in all its violent forms, to The Godfather 2. Battering a woman (and the occasional man) will result in favours that can then be called in - usually to find the weak spot of a rival Family's Made Man. Killing him using this knowledge, for example burning a Made Man to death rather than shooting him, will permanently send him to the fishes; get it wrong and he'll simply be out of action for a number of game days.
Why the need to extort favours? Why kill, rather than injure a Made Man? What's the deal with 'game days'? This was supposed to be a GTA rip-off, right? Well, though The Godfather 2 has the veneer of a GTA clone, and it does feature the same free-roaming cities, third-person gunplay and exploration of a GTA title, there's a simple, yet effective, strategy game buried beneath the GTA pretensions that constantly forces your hand.
The aim is to feel like a Don. The Godfather 2 is not about being a thug for hire who wants to sort out his reckless cousin or brother. This isn't GTA. You're here to build a criminal empire, to start on the streets and take over a city building-by-building; business by business... often by slapping a girl around the face.
The story is inspired by The Godfather 2 film, but not based on it, so there are many key events missing, such as Vito Corleone's flashbacks to life in Sicily (though these will likely be available as online maps, along with Las Vegas).
In this sense, and like the first Godfather game, you don't play a character from the films but a new guy, Dominic, a Capo for Aldo, the hero of the first game, who dies in the prologue and leaves his Family in your hands to rebuild.
Though you can play the game in the usual on-the-streets GTA view, there's a 3D map interface EA is handily calling the Don's Eye View. From here you can get an overview of each city's whole map, see what businesses you own, what you don't, how many men you have guarding a building, or conversely, the weaknesses of your rivals.
You can also access deeper options that enable you to spend money earned from your businesses on developing other characters in your Family. Spending money on specialist skills, Black Hand attacks or basic health increases will ensure that a character is more important and is able to turn a fight your way, if needed. Either taking these guys on a job in your three-man crew or placing them on vital businesses to defend from a takeover could quickly turn the game to your advantage. You never know when they'll come in handy.
It's these deeper options that help The Godfather 2 play differently to the likes of GTA and Saints Row 2. Success here isn't just about playing out the scripted story missions, but tinkering with your Family, building crime syndicates and forging or dismantling alliances with other Families.