The Godfather is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. So when Electronic Arts announced that it was making a game based on the license, though it made sense as a business venture, it also seemed risky to adapt such a beloved and well-known story to a video game. That risk paid off with the PlayStation 2, PC, Xbox, and Xbox 360 versions of the game, and now the game has been released for the PlayStation 3 in the form of The Godfather: The Don's Edition. There are several minor but noticeable enhancements and gameplay tweaks in the PS3 version of the game, but for the most part, this is the same game that was released a year earlier on other platforms. That said, The Godfather: The Don's Edition is still a satisfying, lengthy action adventure game, and more importantly, it remains faithful to the classic film while also creating a compelling story of its own.
The Godfather: The Don's Edition is the same game that previously came out on the Xbox 360 albeit with a few slight changes. There are a handful of new missions, a few new locations, and many modified interiors. The PlayStation 3 game also makes very limited use of the Sixaxis' motion-control feature. Aside from those few minor differences, The Don's Edition provides the same gameplay that previous versions of the game provided.
The Godfather puts you in the role of a peripheral character that didn't appear in the film but nevertheless played a critical role in the story. While the character is by no means an official write-in from Mario Puzo or Francis Ford Coppola, he meshes well with the rest of the story, a large part of which is taken directly from the film. You begin the game by watching your father get gunned down in the streets by rival mobsters. Then you flash forward a few years to the wedding scene from the opening of the film, where your mother is asking the Don to take you under his wing and offer you work. So the Don sends the imposing Luca Brasi to look after you and teach you how to be a mobster.
You start off as an unofficial enforcer for the Corleone family, which means your job is to muscle merchants into paying you protection money. You do this by walking into a store and talking to the owner. Usually the owners won't simply give in, but you can intimidate them by smashing up their stores (or their faces) until they start to see things your way. Sometimes the business owners will ask you to do a favor for them in exchange for a cut of the business. You might have to off a drug dealer who is scaring customers away from a bakery or take out a troublemaker who refuses to leave a hotel. These favor missions bring some welcome variety to the extortion game, but they're so simple and easy that they'll hardly have any effect on the way you play the game. Once you take over a business, you get a payout each week, and there are dozens of shops you can shake down all throughout the five boroughs of New York. Some stores are fronts for illegal rackets, such as brothels, gambling dens, and illegitimate importing operations, and you can buy out these rackets to further increase your weekly income.
But extorting businesses and taking over rackets isn't all there is to do. There are plenty of story missions that you'll pick up as you play. Some missions are taken directly from the movie. Most of these scenes are very faithfully re-created for the game, and it's great to be able to take part in some of the most memorable moments from the film, such as Sonny's ambush at the toll plaza and the assassinations of the dons intercut with scenes from the baptism of Michael Corleone's niece. In fact, the best part of The Godfather is that it handles the source material respectfully and offers enough new content to make it feel like more than just a by-the-numbers adaptation of the movie.
In addition to the characters, the city of New York has been rendered in detail, and you can spot specific scenes from the film as you travel the streets of Little Italy, Brooklyn, Midtown, Hell's Kitchen, and New Jersey. For the PlayStation 3 version of the game, the city was reworked to make getting around town much easier. You still need to use the map quite often, but you'll run into fewer dead-end streets this time around. There are a lot of indoor areas in the game as well, which you can freely enter without any load times. The PS3 version features improved interiors that are more varied than in previous versions of the game. So while you'll still see the same bakery or hotel lobby throughout the city, you'll also see some unique interiors that will help alleviate that sense of déjà vu.
The Godfather borrows heavily from the Grand Theft Auto series of games, so you can expect the same senseless violence and absurd mayhem for which those games are known. You can steal cars, run down pedestrians, shoot people at random, and evade the police. As you commit crimes, your heat gauge increases, and anywhere from one to five badge icons will appear on the screen to indicate how badly the cops want to take you down. If you're caught, you're simply killed, which isn't such a big deal because you can be revived at the nearest hospital for a small fee. It's easy to avoid the police, and you can bribe them if you don't feel up for a chase. In fact, in the PS3 version of the game, you can pay the police to fight alongside you.
Some missions are quite difficult because you may have to face dozens of mobsters all by yourself. However, you can recruit lower-ranking mobsters to be part of your crew. These men will follow you around and provide backup in gunfights or act as triggermen while you drive. As you ascend in rank within the Corleone family, you'll be able to recruit better and better men to fill out your crew. New to the Wii and PlayStation 3 versions of the game is the hit squad. Once you become an associate, you can call in a hit squad of four guys to follow you around and lend some muscle to your cause. The hit squad can get expensive, but you'll usually have cash to burn so cost rarely becomes an issue when it comes to hiring henchmen. The artificial intelligence of your allies is relatively good, and you'll definitely notice a difference having a crew around. It still doesn't take much to get your crew--or yourself--killed. You can find health tonics from time to time, but you'll need to take cover and plan your attack wisely if you want to live.
The gunplay in The Godfather is simple but fun. You can lock on to enemies with the press of a button, and you can duck or back up against a wall for cover. The guns in the game range from a .38 special revolver to a tommy gun and a snub-nosed shotgun. There's also a variety of other weapons, including Molotov cocktails, sticks of dynamite, garrote wires, and lead pipes. All of the guns can be upgraded at back-alley arms dealers. You can also carry all of these weapons at the same time, effectively turning yourself into a one-mobster army. There are more than 40 scripted execution moves as well, and you're rewarded for your brutality in the form of respect.
If you prefer to get your hands dirty, you can simply beat the life out of anyone you encounter. You lock on with the L1 button and then throw punches with the right analog stick. The game also uses the Sixaxis motion-sensing features to let you slam opponents into walls or even head-butt them by quickly moving the controller away from or toward yourself, respectively.
As you indiscriminately waste people, extort businesses, and complete missions, you'll earn respect points. When you earn enough respect, you level up, so to speak. You can also distribute skill points to learn new abilities and improve your stats. The character-development system has been completely redone for this version of the game, and it allows for much more flexibility in how you strengthen your character. As you level up your character in various parameters, you earn bonuses and you can also unlock new skills. You can learn useful tricks, such as how to set a car bomb, or you can just increase your health or make it cheaper to bribe police. These bonuses, along with the upgraded weapons, help tremendously later in the game when the missions become more difficult.
The PlayStation 3 version of The Godfather is not one of the better looking PlayStation 3 games in high definition, and it's more underwhelming in standard definition. There are some special lighting effects and shinier surfaces in The Don's Edition but not enough to make them stand out next to other PlayStation 3 games. There are also some nice fire and explosion effects. Although the city of New York looks and feels alive with activity, you'll still see blurry surfaces, jerky animations, and clipping. The frame rate keeps pace fairly well and never drops to critical levels. Overall, the game isn't a complete eyesore, but it's not too pretty either. It still works mostly because of the way it authentically re-creates the look and feel of the film, but there are very few technically impressive moments in the game.
With the sheer number of businesses to extort and missions to complete, you can easily spend 20 hours working your way up through the ranks and eliminating other families before finally becoming the Don of New York City. Beyond that, there are also some Corleone Challenges, which are one-off missions taken from the game that you can complete as quickly as possible, and then you can upload your time to an online leaderboard.
If you're a fan of the film, you'll appreciate the way The Godfather: The Don's Edition pays tribute to the movie. Even if you've never seen the film, the satisfying combat and challenging missions make this game worth playing. However, if you've already played other versions of The Godfather, there's no compelling reason to pay full price for what is essentially the exact same game. The slightly tweaked controls and added content are nice, but those things alone aren't enough to make this game worth another look. If you haven't played the game before and are looking for an action adventure game for the PlayStation 3, The Godfather: The Don's Edition certainly fits the bill.