The Godfather: The Don’s Edition Review (PS3)

EA ruffled some feathers when they initially announced they’d be making a game based on the classic film series The Godfather. Interest was piqued, however, when it was said that a large portion of the cast was going to be reviving roles for some small speaking parts, including James Caan and Robert Duvall. Unfortunately Marlon Brando’s lines were poorly recorded due to his health, and Al Pacino is also noticeably missing from the credits.

That’s not all bad, though, because the story of the game doesn’t fully parallel the movie, which is a blessing considering the main protagonist in the game is a new character called Aldo Trapani. Aldo was brought into the Corleone family when he was a young boy who saw his father gunned down on the street and was approached by Don Vito Corleone. The Don tells young Aldo to come to him when he’s older if he wants revenge. Years pass, and now you take control of Aldo in his rise through the ranks of the Corleone family from thug through Don. Since the game initially came out March of this year, and thus the plot details have been covered to death in reviews, let’s look a little closer at to what additions this Don’s Edition has over the other versions.

Seeing as the title graced multiple generations and platforms, the PS3 version is an extension of the Xbox 360 version, which featured improved graphics and weather effects, the ability to hire a crew and more execution moves. Additionally tweaks that the Wii version got in its release are also included, such as the option to find some little secrets on police around the city and eventually have them as allies, and the ability to call in a hit squad during some confrontations. The exclusive content that the PS3 gets are a Corleone expansion pack of sorts, with additional locales to visit and extort as well as some very interesting uses of the SIXAXIS controller.

The premise of the title, aside from advancing through the story, is to level up through the organized crime world. This means doing things that most normal people would not ever see or do. As you start out you are an outsider, someone who runs errands for random made men. Do enough good deeds, and soon you’ll be on your way to your first extortion. Extorting shopkeepers is a somewhat interesting concept but usually boils down to a couple of quick lines of dialogue, followed by either breaking objects in the store or beating the shopkeeper until the bars on the extortion gauge line up. It’s sad that it didn’t get too much deeper than that, because I think that it’s a path that could be explored quite nicely. In some buildings you’ll also uncover rackets behind closed doors, and sometimes not-so-subtle attempts can be made to take over these rackets, enabling you to rake in more cash and move up the family tree.

Seeing as this is the last game in a massive pool of ports, as expected the graphics are not quite up to par with the PS3’s capabilities. It looks almost as is if it was a late-gen PS2 title with had some new filters and higher-resolution textures slapped onto it. If you’re looking for your free-roaming sandbox game fix and want it to be pretty, I suggest waiting for the fall (hello, GTA IV).

Aside from the expanded gameplay options, my personal favorite piece of The Godfather Don’s Edition experience is the “black hand” controls with the PS3. Using the motion controls in the SIXAXIS, the player can take some control of the violence onscreen. By pressing two shoulder buttons you grab a character, and then a quick jerk of the controller to either side will make the character jump onscreen. Jerk the controller and let go of the corresponding shoulder button, and you’ll toss the poor chap into whatever is in his way. While it doesn’t quite offer the same hands-on feel that the Blackhand Edition does on the Wii, this still adds to the immersive factor of the title quite nicely. Standard controls are for the most part quite responsive, although I did notice some issues with camera work. The only other flaw is the way the cars in the game handle; seeing these old, low-powered heavy machines move quickly seems a little awkward.

Now The Godfather isn’t a bad game by any means, but for dedicated fans of the movies you’ll probably scream heresy at seeing this new character involved in many pivotal moments of the story. But casual fans will likely enjoy being taking into this world. If you’ve played one of the many other versions, PSP included, then likely you’ll not be ready to throw down your hard-earned cash for a game that’s more than four months old. For those waiting to get their sandbox game fix on the PS3, though, and who have no other gaming options, perhaps this is be a decent bargain-bin purchase — but other titles likely will make this fade into obscurity within another six months.

– Jeff Paramchuk

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