Coming off the incredible success of the original Godfather game (which stems from Francis Ford Coppola’s movie, which stems from Mario Puzo’s book), EA offers a revamped open-world sequel in The Godfather II. You play as a character named Dominic, a man who has worked his way through the ranks of the late 1950s Italian mafia and now has his shot at running his own family under the tutelage of Michael Corleone. With chaos erupting in pre-revolution Cuba, Michael depends on you to take control of New York, unifying the families if possible, killing them off if necessary. In an always-dangerous attempt at making a classic book/movie into a game, EA has succeeded in capturing the essence of the story.
The gameplay revolves around the idea of running missions given by certain NPCs in order to overtake businesses, increase your income from these businesses and acquire more muscle for further procurement of power. What is new about The Godfather II is the family-building. Instead of being a lone wolf, you almost instantly get to bring on two men as soldiers. Besides offering additional firepower for gunfights, these men have specialties that are crucial to your success.
These specialists can be safe-crackers, arsonists, bruisers, engineers, medics and so on. If you want to rob a bank for some extra cash, it is not a bad idea to have an explosives expert opening a path for your safe-cracker. Tired of dying when your enemy calls for backup? Have an engineer kill the lights before the raid and keep your medic close in case the situation gets too hot. As you progress through the storyline, opportunities for more soldiers arise, and you will be encouraged to promote your soldiers to capos and underbosses, giving them more strength and abilities. Some of these men are naturally more talented than others, so be sure to look around and choose carefully.
Another new element of gameplay is the struggle to maintain ownership of your businesses. If you sit still for too long, the enemy will wipe you out. Controlling all types of a certain business gives you bonuses, but the rival families experience these same benefits if they own all the business. If you do not have the firepower to take over a chain, send one of your men to bomb a joint. It will temporarily negate your enemy’s bonus, making him a bit easier to handle. At the same time, if you leave your men guarding a particular business and it gets bombed by your rivals, not only will your business be out of commission temporarily, but you’ll have to wait for your backup to recover in the hospital.
What The Godfather II lacks in original and compelling content, it makes up for with mind-numbing, repetitive fun. The artificial intelligence of your enemies is never truly difficult to outwit and overpower, but while playing, I was incredibly interested in taking over every business, killing each of my opponents’ made men and satisfied with the compound explosion scenes. The occasional weapon upgrade found around the cities added a bit of enjoyment, and the differing personalities of my soldiers occasionally made me laugh (my drunk medic was very amusing).
Do not expect to be blown away (I usually have better jokes) by the graphics in this game if you are a fan of other popular open-world games. The visuals are above functional but not incredible. The audio is definitely a high point for The Godfather II with authentic songs from the time period playing in the car as you drive and the previously mentioned high-quality banter between your made men (and all other voice-over work). My hat is off to whomever decided to play James Brown’s “This is a Man’s World” while the credits rolled — the song has been stuck in my head for days.
The missions do not provide enough entertainment in and of themselves to be considered a positive aspect of The Godfather II, but there is an endless amount of people to kill, buildings to burglarize and bombs to explode that you will surely find something you like. With a full family, you can sit back and enjoy sending your made men on missions to take over businesses or play online against others to further upgrade your men and test their mettle.
Would I recommend buying this game? No. I do not believe there is enough content to warrant the price, and I have low expectations for the replay factor. Is it worth a rental? Definitely. Especially if you happen to be a fan of The Godfather franchise. My overall advice would be to either watch the movies or read the books and give this game a pass.