Don't put away your brass knuckles and Molotov cocktails just yet, because The Godfather is returning once again, this time on the PlayStation 3. Despite the addition of a subtitle, The Godfather: Don's Edition is basically the same Godfather game that has already been released on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC, and Xbox 360. However, it's more than just a quick port. Don's Edition not only includes all of the extra content found in the Xbox 360 version of the game, but also features a healthy dose of new content as well as a redesigned control scheme that takes advantage of the motion-sensing features of the Sixaxis controller. That, combined with the sharp graphics, makes The Godfather on the PlayStation 3 worth a second (or at this point maybe even a third) look.
Beyond the visuals, the most apparent difference between this version of the game and previous versions is the Blackhand control scheme. When you grab an enemy, you can use the Sixaxis controller to swing your opponent left and right, shove him backward, or even smash his face with a hard head-butt. You do this by actually moving the controller around. After playing the Wii version of the game, we were surprised at how remarkably similar the controls felt when playing the PlayStation 3 version (at least for those few actions). Of course, the Sixaxis controller doesn't have the same range of motion as the Wii Remote, so the extent to which you can control your character using motion alone is limited. The Blackhand controls work only for hand-to-hand combat, and the rest of the game uses the familiar control style of previous versions of The Godfather.
There's more to the game than the new control scheme, though. In addition to the full story from the original versions of The Godfather, this game includes all of the upgrades and additions from the Xbox 360 version. On top of that there are also five new hit missions, six new venues, two new vehicles, a fuel truck that can be rigged with a car bomb to produce massive explosions, a new "weapon wheel" to make it easier to choose your weapon on the fly, a completely reworked character development system, a brand-new family to contend with, and the ability to call in a "hit squad" to back you up in a fight.
One of the most interesting changes that we saw is the reworked skill system. In previous versions of The Godfather, as you earned respect you would get points that you could allocate to basic attributes like fighting, shooting, and speed. The result is that earning respect and leveling up didn't matter much, and you didn't have much flexibility in terms of how your character developed as you progressed through the game. In Blackhand Edition, the entire system has been changed. Now there are multiple paths you can take when leveling your character. There's the enforcer path, which is a blunt and violent path focused on strength, violence, and intimidation. The enforcer path is for players who want to be like Sonny Corleone.
However, if you want to be more levelheaded and diplomatic, like Tom Hagen, you can choose the operator path. As an operator your character is less focused on shooting and fighting and more focused on negotiating with other families, staying in the police force's favor, and letting others do the dirty work. As you level up along these paths you'll receive special bonuses called "perks." For instance, as an enforcer you might receive a perk that gives you infinite ammunition, or as an operator a perk might be that you can call in your hit squad twice as often. The new skill system seems to be an interesting addition to the game and should not only affect the way you play the game, but also enhance the replay value of the game by allowing you to play through it multiple different ways.
The hit squad is another addition that could potentially change your entire approach to some of the more difficult missions. In previous versions of the game you were essentially a one-man army storming into heavily fortified compounds and warehouses to take down dozens of mobsters all by yourself. You can still do that if you choose, but to make the game a bit more interesting you can now call in a hit squad of four heavily armed allies who will lend their shotguns, pistols, and tommy guns to your cause. You can call in your hit squad only when your family shield is glowing in the top left corner of the screen. The gauge fills up over time, and once it's activated, your character will whistle and a group of thugs will show up. These thugs don't work for free, but based on what we saw of the combat, the hit squad is worth the price. Since you can also bribe police offers to fight for you, you can effectively have a squad of about 10 guys backing you up in a fight, leaving you to stay safely out of harm's way. In fact, according to the developers, you can play through the entire game as a true diplomat and never pull a weapon.
There have also been some updates to the characters that populate the city. There are now photographers who will snap your photo as you go about doing your dirty work. Of course you can't let those pictures make it into the papers, so you have to chase down the photographers and coerce them into handing over the film. Doing so will increase your respect. There are also mob couriers in the game. These guys walk around delivering important packages for rival families. You can chase these delivery men down and beat them up to steal their packages, which not only earns you a respect bonus, but also nets you a bit of cash.
You might remember in the previous versions of the game that you could go to brothels and talk to the working ladies, but doing so was pointless because the conversations had no bearing on the game. Now you can actually discover information by chatting it up with the ladies. Some will just fill in some background details about what's going on in the city, but others will give you dirt on high-ranking officials, such as the chief of police. You can then use that info to blackmail the chief, who will then call off the heat from the police anytime you get in trouble. The city itself has also been modified to make it easier to get around. Where streets would often end abruptly in previous versions of the game, they now go through to allow easier travel. If that's still too much work, you can call up a driver to instantly take you where you need to go.
The Godfather: Don's Edition also has some features that are exclusive to the PlayStation 3 release. The online leaderboards that were introduced in the Xbox 360 version of the game are now fully integrated into the game, and keeping tabs on your friends is as simple as pausing the game. The leaderboards keep track of a wide array of stats, and you can limit the information to the people on your friends list or check out the global tallies. Just in case you grow weary of strangling thugs and intimidating local merchants, you can take a break and enjoy the new Corleone challenges that have been added to the game. These are mini-missions that have no effect on the story and are just there to provide a simple diversion. The example we were given was a challenge that requires you to rob as many banks as possible within 20 minutes. You earn points based on how you perform, and of course your scores are reflected in the in-game leaderboards. There will be about 15 of these challenges when the game is released, but there are plans to make more available via the PlayStation 3 online service later on.
The visuals in the PlayStation 3 version of The Godfather are nice and sharp, with a good amount of detail. There are tons of destructible objects throughout the environments, from bottles and crates to cash registers and light posts. It's an impressive effect because everything starts to fall apart around you in the midst of a heated shootout. The new areas we saw were also impressive. The ship especially is quite large, with multiple levels and a cavernous interior to explore. The most impressive part of the game was a massive, fiery explosion that resulted from an exploding fuel truck. You can't go wrong with exploding fuel trucks.
The Godfather: Don's Edition will be the first open-world-style action adventure game for the PlayStation 3 when it's released this March. Based on what we saw of the game, it looks like it will offer enough new content and features to be worth a look for fans of other versions of the game. Be sure to check back soon for more details and a full review when the game is released.