It's usually a safe bet that a video game adaptation of a film is going to be pretty bad. Gaming history is littered with licensed crap, shoveled out with only a passing resemblance to the source material. They end up fodder in the bargain bins at your local game shop, and rightly so. With such a checkered past, turning a classic film like The Godfather into a game seemed an exercise in folly. Which is why I was shocked when I booted up my PS3 and sat down to play The Godfather: The Don's Edition. Despite the fact that it's a film adaptation (and a port of a game now over a year old), it does what it set out to do. When it's firing on all cylinders, it draws you into the storied history of the Corleone family.
For those who missed out on the earlier versions, the game presents a chance to work as part of the Corleone crime family during the events of the first film. As a newcomer to The Family, it's up to you to work your way up the Mafioso ranks. From dregs of being a low level Enforcer, your ultimate goal is assume control as The Don. The road there is a bloody path that's all about earning respect. Just about every mission you undertake, whether central to the main plot or not, will grant you some respect points. These points can be used to upgrade your character in a variety of abilities. The upgrade system allows you to place an emphasis on whatever skill you want to focus on, from subtle influence to brute force.
A year after it's original release, you'd hope that all the kinks would have been ironed out. They're clearly not.
Unfortunately, if you've played through the game on another console, the PS3 version doesn't really offer any stunning new content. It does bring a few welcome additions though, specifically the implementation of hit squads and the addition of SIXAXIS control. For situations that the lone gunman approach won't work, you now call on hit squads. Hit squads are essentially hired guns in your employ. When you hit the rank of Associate, you can hire one to take down some of your tougher marks. It's a subtle change but one that goes a long way to helping wipe out some well protected targets.
When you're on your own up close, you can lay a beating on a target by taking advantage of the motion sensing control. By moving the SIXAXIS, you can now slam goons into tables and walls, and toss them aside like yesterday's newspaper. In what almost seems like a Manhunt 2 preview, you can also strangle and garrote those who oppose Corleone rule. While it does work fairly well (and can be immensely satisfying), shooting is still your primary option. You'll only use SiXAXIS when you need to interrogate a henchman, or want to work your moves on an innocent citizen.
Even with all the moves at your disposal, white hot lead is the key to your progress. During your criminal ascent, you play an important role behind the scenes in all the crucial moments from the first film. Unfortunately, playing out these moments leads to a love/hate relationship. First of all, you'll notice some small changes to the way things played out in the feature film. It's often a necessity of inserting your character into the background of the main action. If you can overlook that, the implementation of the missions that surround the key events are sometimes a bit lacking. Often, the task at hand is sneaking around to take out opposing goons or driving to a destination while avoiding the cops. It adds up to a bunch of the missions that frequently don't live up to the excitement of everything that happened on screen.
Still, the translation of the silver screen to your living room is exciting and involving. Though one of the most baffling distractions are actually the character models. That's not to say that Brando doesn't look like Brando – because he absolutely does. The problem is that the characters that return from the film are so detailed and look so good, that your character inevitably looks like Plastic Man. Character animations are a bit stiff at times as well. The combination of both is really disrupting to the cinematic atmosphere the game works so hard to achieve. It's a big letdown that the PS3 version didn't receive a graphics bump, especially when the character model issue stands out so easily.
A year after it's original release, you'd hope that all the kinks would have been ironed out. They're clearly not. As quickly as the game pulls you in, the lack of polish on this port puts a dent in that immersion. It's a shame, because it hurts an otherwise great game based on a film.
Discuss this article in our forums