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Hold the Strings
by Ryan Davis on
We take a first look at EA's strategy-enhanced take on The Godfather II.
The Godfather II seems to play pretty fast and loose with the fiction of the film, perhaps even more so than the last game. While the movie split time between two different eras of the Corleone crime family, the upcoming game will focus entirely on the Michael Corleone era. You'll conduct family business in New York, Florida, and Cuba, but the time the game takes place has been pushed up from from the 1950s to the 1960s, a choice that the game's creative director Mike Perry said was made for aesthetic reasons. You'll interact with characters like Fredo Corleone and Tom Hagan (voiced once again by Robert Duvall) but beyond that, it doesn't sound like the game will follow the events of the film.
You'll play again as a new character, though instead of working your way up through the organization, you'll start out at the top, having been given the title of Don by Michael Corleone himself at the start of the game. Herein lies the biggest addition that The Godfather II will make to the formula established in the first game. While you'll get to spend plenty of time playing the part of the thug, shaking down business owners for protection money and battling it out with rival crime families, you'll also be able to look at the Corleone family from what EA is calling Don's View.
This new feature essentially turns The Godfather II into a strategy game, allowing you to deploy Corleone soldiers as well as see what the other families are up to. There are a number of business ventures that you can get involved in, including firearms and the diamond trade, and if you can take complete control of one of these rackets, you'll be rewarded with perks in the action side of the game. Cinch up the firearms business, and you and your whole crew will get high-capacity ammo belts.
The repayment of favors is a concept that pops up repeatedly in The Godfather films, and it will play a role in the gameplay in The Godfather II as well. In the example shown during my demo, the player character encountered a district attorney on the set of a porn film, who asked him to trash up a business that a front for a rival crime family. By performing this task, the player could then have the DA perform a sting operation on another family, crippling their operations.
There are a number of other adjustments being made to the core gameplay as well, such as moving the hand-to-hand combat controls to the triggers, and the new ability to run with a crew of specialists like arsonists and medics whose unique abilities can give you an edge in combat. You'll also have to concern yourself witnesses during combat, as enemy soldiers from rival families can call in reinforcements.
I really like the idea of adding an overarching strategy element to such a well-worn style of action gameplay, and while I didn't get any hands-on time with The Godfather II, I sensed a bit of a disconnect between the two halves of the game. Even conceptually, it seems a little odd that the leader of an international crime syndicate would be out in the field getting his hands dirty. Hopefully the development team will be able to address some of these issues before the game's early 2009 release.