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Although the film license overshadows it entirely, Godfather 2 is an enjoyable attempt to recreate the life of a Don in 1950's America. I found the mix of action violence and business management an entertaining ride for most of the game. It only became overwhelming once I had to deal with controller multiple crime rings over the three cities.
Splattering the publisher and developer logo onto the title screen as shots of blood sets the stall out for Godfather 2 straight away. This powerful start is a fair indication that the tone of the game is going to be remorseless and as violent as you might expect.
Coming into this game I expected a similar style of play as the Grand Theft Auto Series. After all, they are pretty much a tongue-in-cheek parody of the classic mobster films anyway. And for the most part Godfather 2 fits this description fairly well. It was very easy to plunge straight into the action thanks to a great starting level in Cuba. Here the game sets up your role with the Corleane family and attempts to blend the game and the films together. With a few major characters from the trilogy ferrying the story along I felt the weight of the license chivvy the game along nicely.
What I found great about the game is that it doesn't descend into a simple GTA-clone. The combat is similar but once I was made head of the family, Godfather 2 turns into an interesting management simulation.
Godfather 2 doesn't flinch from showing some immoral or manipulative stuff within its storyline
Although that sounds odd, I never felt the game push me into this too hard in the beginning. Back in New York I started to take over the rival families businesses. This involved assigning guards, recruiting family members and starting to improve my own characters stats. With no more than 5-6 different businesses to take care of this was a simple task and ultimately rewarding. A nice little bonus was getting perks when I controlled a series of identical businesses. These crime rings led to bullet-proof vests or cheaper guards - pretty essential since rival families started to attack my shops from the start.
Shooting and blasting my way through the early part of the game is very similar to GTA. Although it's a little less offensive as taking out guards feel very videogame-like. Bodies magically disappear and there little consequence on being a bloodthirsty killer. It was only the occasional quip from my crew that reminded me how large the body-count had become.
The real, more Godfather-style violence comes when taking down the rival family members. Instead of merely gunning them down a special 'kill' condition has to be met. This felt very contrived and ultraviolent as some of the conditions are brutal executions.
Strangling a guy to death wasn't just a gruesome experience onscreen; the actual controller pulsed like a fading heartbeat as I slowly squeezed the life out of them. For a while I wasn't sure how happy I was with this approach. In the end I had to admit that this physical connection to my actions on the screen really worked at pulling me into the game. Even though I felt disgusted with myself for committing these crimes it made the game all the more immersive.DIV class="quote">
What defeated me in the end was the complexity of the management part of the game.
When violence is done like this and kept in context I have no problem with it being in the game. Godfather 2 also doesn't flinch from showing some immoral or manipulative stuff within its storyline. Setting up a Senator so he believes he's killed the prostitute he's slept with is just one example of what lengths the remorseless character you play will go to. It's uncomfortable and I certainly wouldn't like to play this game with an audience. But squirreling this away as a guilty pleasure in the middle of the night made for some entertaining game sessions.
What defeated me in the end was the complexity of the management part of the game. It's not as deep as a real time strategy game on the PC but once you reach a Cuba it ups the strategy over my brain's limit. Having to manage businesses in three cities just got too much to handle when playing in short sessions.
If I could have got over this then I'm convinced Godfather 2 has a lot more to offer. Its connection to the historic film series doesn't do it any favours but at least adds some weight to its main story. Although I was overwhelmed with managing my family I still believe this is an enjoyment romp through 1950's America.
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