The Basics: Hot off the heels of Vivendi's Scarface, Electronic Arts is adapting the famed mafia novel and film masterpiece into its own Grand Theft Auto-inspired thug simulation. Rather than seeking to recreate the movie's story, EA's Redwood Shores studio is more delicately attempting to weave an original story around the world of the Corleone family. Players will assume the role of a young up-and-coming gangster of their creation as he rises in the ranks of organized crime. Expect to roam and terrorize New York City and New Jersey as the story unfolds from 1945, through 1955. Although there will be far less vehicular mayhem, this will be an open-ended affair with heavy overtones of Rockstar's flagship series.
The Godfather will, however, feature a story that reflects some of the open-endedness of the gameplay, with persistent characters that will remember how they've been treated by your aspiring sleaze-artist. Players will be able to be the nice guy or the tyrant depending on their inclination. None of this will affect the events of the original Godfather storyline, cementing this game's position as a side-story.
What do we think? While I appreciate that EA is taking the delicate route and avoiding focusing on new stories centered on the film's core cast, I can't help but feel that the use of this particular license is disrespectful, and indeed unnecessary, especially in light of director Coppola's objections. Respect for art aside, The Godfather is sporting some impressive production values and competent design, but it's unclear at this point if the license will be enough to keep it from getting lost amongst a sea of similar crime games.
The following is a Q/A session with The Godfather World Designer Steven Smith who discusses developing the virtual world of New Jersey.
1. What makes New Jersey unique in the world of The Godfather?
New Jersey is the only neighborhood in the Godfather world which has a different environmental feel to it. It's patterned after a traditional small American town, particularly of the type found in the outer regions of Manhattan. Though most of the buildings are made of brick they are lower in height, typically two or three floors. Many of the city blocks are not populated with tenement buildings but instead they are occupied with detached houses usually with corner businesses at the end of such blocks. The most noted feature of New Jersey is the town square park located in the middle of the neighborhood, complete with a band shell structure and community type venues located around it such as a bank and a church.
2. New Jersey is considered by many to be the ‘armpit of the Northeast'. Does that show at all in The Godfather version of Jersey?
In the Godfather world New Jersey is a neighborhood that conveys an industrial ambiance. Through no fault of its own that's the nature of such communities circa 1945 that were located along water way transit points. It's an outlying residential community located along the waterfront of the Hudson River, and so it's going to have warehouses, power plants and rail yards.