EA takes another stab, several gunshots, and possibly a severe clubbing at Francis Ford Coppola's classic film trilogy, with The Godfather II.
All of the hard work that the player did in The Godfather: The Game is undone in its sequel. The first game's main character, Aldo Trapani, is dead, and players assume the role of Dominic, a once lowly soldier in the Corleone family who suddenly finds himself in the role of Don. Don Dom must then expand and defend operations in New York, Miami, and Havana as he strives to become the most powerful Don in America. It's a third-person, squad-based free-roaming shooter and a resource management sim rolled into one, with the addition of online multiplayer for those inclined to reach out and gut someone.
Who dares critique the new Don of the Corleone family?
Making a better sequel shouldn't have been that difficult for a studio with the resources and experience of EA Redwood Shores. All it really needed was a tighter structure and more memorable and more challenging missions. But while the follow-up undoubtedly has a far better structure, the feeling that you're essentially playing a series of disconnected side-quests persists. It's a game strangely lacking in soul, and consistently fails to make you care about what you're doing and why. From start to finish you'll play on autopilot, shooting all the nasty men unquestioningly in what amounts to the ultimate pissing contest.
Electronic Arts' interpretation of Francis Ford Coppola's Oscar winning film, The Godfather: Part II, draws more comparisons to the raunchy teen film Porky's than the masterful gangster story that moviegoers and critics alike herald as one of the greatest sequels of all time. For every shot gangster, a pretty girl is hit on with groan-inducing lines like "Has anyone ever told you that you look like an angel?" Topless women are everywhere; I even saw a few walking down the side of the street. To top it off, a car ride isn't complete without your cronies telling you that you should pull over to pick up a gal. Of course, like Porky's, no matter how much you try to impress the ladies, you'll never reel one in.
...even the portrayal of the late '50s set story-about newly crowned head of the family, Michael, and the Corleone's association with Hyman Roth and a burgeoning deal in pre-revolution Havana-is flawed beyond repair. You're supposed to be the Don of your own family now, but still an underling to Michael Corleone, yet you still look like just another goombah roaming the streets with a gang of toughs. The look seems wrong, too, with anachronistic cars and other poorly researched art. Havana looks cool, but the levels just feel like toy sets you're running around on with little resemblance to the locations or eras they are supposed to represent.
At the end of it all, you likely hit up a few team deathmatches online, but don't expect miracles in this area. The Godfather II online is nothing special, even though it tries. Online is supported for 16 players and hosts four modes where you can play as one of the members from your campaign's crew, or enter the game as a Don. In an interesting twist you can earn honour points online that allow you to upgrade your weapon licenses for your crew. As the Don you will control a camera that flies above the map allowing you to help out your team by dropping perks down to them. It's not too much fun, and you can't even zoom down to the action. Being the Don is not fun at all online and was a good stab at something that doesn't work. Online the Godfather II isn't going to hold your attention for too long, expect to be disappointed.
It was bound to happen eventually. Grand Theft Auto's success gave birth to so many imitators that it was just a matter of time before someone found a way to out-Rockstar Rockstar. That's exactly what EA has accomplished with Godfather II - it improves upon the 'crime boss' aspect of GTA and becomes the experience by which other crime games must be judged. It isn't the best open-world game out there but it does a sublime job of capturing what it feels like to be the head of a virtual crime family. Not going to add anything, in fear that it will earn me a dirt nap.