The Godfather II Updated Hands-On

If you want to make it as a Mafia don, you'll need to be clever, cunning, and coldhearted. We do our best to be all three.


The Godfather II is a tale of two games, a blend of sandbox action and strategic resource management. The low-level mobster in you will want to parade around 1950s-era depictions of New York, Miami, and Havana causing as much wanton destruction as you possibly can, but you'll need to get in touch with your inner Mafia boss if you want to successfully progress through the story. Taking over and managing various rackets and crime rings is key, but so is keeping an eye on your own family and those of other organizations. We've had only a taste of what sort of strategic depth The Godfather II might offer in previous looks at the game, but we've recently been spending some time with a nearly complete version of this EA Redwood Shores-developed game to see how far we could dive into the Don lifestyle.

For a bit of background on the story told in The Godfather II, you'll want to have a look at the hands-on impressions that we posted yesterday based on a UK press event. It'll give you a good idea of what happens at the beginning of the game, including the myriad names and faces that are introduced during the course of the game's first act, set during the eve of the Cuban Revolution. Suffice it to say, things go sour and you quickly return to New York, where you're thrust into the position of building your own wing of the Corleone organized-crime family. The first item on the agenda is recruiting an associate, the bottom level on your family tree.

Executions are a way of life in this family.
Executions are a way of life in this family.

Each potential associate has a unique background and specialty, which determines his personality and class-based abilities. To give you an idea of a few specialties that exist out there, you can hire a medic who will revive you whenever you get taken out during combat, an arsonist who excels in making impromptu doorways in the sides of buildings, a safecracker who can get you some extra cash whenever you break into a business, and a bruiser who will reduce your odds of having the police called on you for random acts of violence on the street. You'll eventually be able to recruit more associates, and subsequently promote existing ones up the ranks from associate to capo to underboss. If you really want to get into the spirit of things, you can even customize each family member's clothing to give your group a signature look, like our collection of thugs clad in periwinkle leisure shirts.

Once you get your first associate, you'll need to take over your first racket, which are critical because they let you launder dirty money through a legitimate business. This usually entails finding a business controlled by another family, taking care of all of their guards, and then shaking down the owner. The last bit is especially fun because you need to rough them up to the point where they'll give in, but not quite fight back or die. Once you control a racket, you can seek out others like it for a crime-ring bonus. For example, if you control all of the prostitution rackets in New York, you'll get brass knuckles for all of your family members, and if you control all of the drug-smuggling rackets in Miami, you'll double your daily income. Each racket you own needs to be guarded against takeovers, but guards cost money that you might otherwise spend on upgrading the abilities of you and your crew, so there's a lot to consider.

You'll need to keep your rackets safe from rival families, even if it is a strip club.
You'll need to keep your rackets safe from rival families, even if it is a strip club.

Of course, you're not the only one managing the operations of a family filled with thugs and criminals; there are plenty of rival organizations out there looking to cause you trouble. Early in the game, your primary source of conflict is the Rosato family, the crew that operates the bulk of rackets in the modest-sized chunk of New York City that makes up the game's first act. You begin by taking over their businesses, but as the story progresses and the possibility of a truce becomes less and less likely, it's revealed that you need to do more than cripple their income; you need to take them out entirely.

To do this, you'll need to stage contract hits on the various family members. But it's not enough to kill them however you see fit; you need to know the right kill condition to send the appropriate message. This requires you to do a favor for people of interest, and if you fulfill your obligation (usually an act of violence on an enemy of theirs), you'll learn the kill condition. Some rivals need to be thrown from a building, some choked, and others run over with a car, to name a few.

If that all sounds a little violent for your tastes, it's only the beginning. The Godfather II is an intensely violent experience that routinely surprised us with the level of potential for sadistic combat. At its core, the game is a straightforward third-person action game with a few guns and melee weapons to go along with a lock-on targeting and cover system. But when you wear down your enemies' health, you can execute them in some truly horrific ways. The most gruesome is probably the baseball-bat execution, followed closely by the Tommy gun--both of which involve shoving these weapons into someone's mouth and your inevitable wince in response.

Later in the game you'll move your operations to Florida, and eventually Cuba. The core mechanics of the game remain the same, but the scenery changes from Brooklyn townhouses to pastel-colored art deco buildings and Spanish architecture. The number of rival families you need to deal with also grows as the story expands into a web of shady alliances, corrupt government officials, backstabbing friends, and so on. Although you don't have much control of the story proper, you at least feel pretty invested in all of this crime and corruption due to your ability to strike deals with a number of government officials and keep favors from them until you find the right time to call them in. We'd like to give you an idea of how the story plays out, but with so many turns and twists, almost anything would be a spoiler.

The Don's View is where you'll do all your managerial work.
The Don's View is where you'll do all your managerial work.

At the heart of all of this is something called the Don's View. This is a screen that lays out the entire city in a fully movable 3D map, detailing all of the businesses, people of interest, and missions available to you. You can manage the number of guards stationed at your rackets, call in strikes on rival businesses, send your made men to defend a racket that's come under attack, and keep tabs of how close you are to controlling an entire crime ring. You can also examine the makeup of rival family trees, examining them before calling in a contract hit. Giving you a lot of ability to stretch your strategic muscles definitely seems to have been a big goal for the developer.

Altogether, The Godfather II should offer a few interesting twists on the open-world action genre that has become so common these days. You can expect to see our final word on it when the game is released on February 24.

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Avatar image for MelodicMizery

man the controls and map in this game is confusing as hell and i cant load the game with the update

Avatar image for liferev

Got my copy - its awesome so far. A real step up from the original, but not in the way you'd expect! Get it guys.

Avatar image for mfa1486

I wish not be any further delay in this game,i love ea games, which by the great games I'm trust in that the great Publisher

Avatar image for LCPxIxCYRUS

i think they pushed the day back

Avatar image for ib_banging

Okay this is confusing. The release date says april 7th, but the last sentence says feb 34..What gives?

Avatar image for ib_banging

SO the game has already released??? Why no reviews for it yet???

Avatar image for blazamane

Dont let us down EA - You have a habit of hyping your games then kicking your consumers in the nads I pray you dont do it again

Avatar image for Chronologo

played the first one on ps2 and it was really good,it covered some of the movie history, I hope this one is good too but will it cover some of the movies history or not?

Avatar image for sircheche

crucifykillrot you do not know how wrong you are

Avatar image for CrucifyKillRot

There is nothing impressive about this game. I hope it fails.

Avatar image for evilchiken

The multi-player would be hard to pull off, because for it to be as realistic as possible there would be five players playing, each a don, and each would have to get on and get off at the same time to make it seem like Single-player, although an EndWar-style strategic Multi-player set would do it some good, only on a smaller scale, and then there could be another type of gameplay, basicly a SOCOM or Rainbow 6 vegas 2 style SFPS, but any type would be difficult to pull off in this type of game because it would either be not as fun as the Single Player, or be a MP mode that contrasts single player action. I REALLY hope they can solve those problems and make a good Multi-player setting. I would play it 24/7... heh..

Avatar image for evilchiken

It does look promising, although the multiple release delays mean that something went wrong during the making of the game and it is now behind schedual. I pre-ordered this game last year, and they told me it would be out 02/05/09, and they now say it will be out 04/07/09. I hope they have no more troubles and release this game. I saw all three godfather movies, I beat the first on the PC, Wii, and Ps2, and now I wanna keep the pattern going. I absolutely love the Godfather series.

Avatar image for junor69

This game got potential but will it deliver the goods, who knows maybe EA have failed to deliver quality product so many times will they resist to push out half finished game this time, hm i wonder i hope they will because game looks promising.

Avatar image for mikemorton

I really hope this game delivers. It has the potential to be a really great game. I have to admit, I haven't played the first, as even at bargain-bucket prices the original game has been heavily criticised and I'm not sure it's worthwhile even loading it onto my PC. Worth playing or not, do you reckon? I absolutely love Mafia, BTW. But San Andreas is still my fave in the genre so far :-)

Avatar image for New_Magic

yeah on an inside xbox video the executive producer said there is multiplayer and this game looooookssss illllll

Avatar image for broca

KulinaBan, does anyone know what you are saying?

Avatar image for KulinaBan

i think the game uks cuz last version was a copy of gta san ... its just in an another age and gta is stupid olny FPS and RTS are cool

Avatar image for IAMTHEJOKER88

I think they are glamorizing Cosa Nostra a bit too does not look very realistic. I loved the first one but i know that i will disappointed with this as it just seems a bit far-fetched.

Avatar image for homertrix07

Can we play online multiplayer on that game?? that would be awsome..

Avatar image for luke10123

looks alright but i'm more excited about Mafia II. The first one was amazing!

Avatar image for ronraf916

it sucks.....

Avatar image for ib_banging

Two days before my birthday!! YAy!!! I hope its available in local stores here...

Avatar image for satanyoka

Wow.-WhiteFunk-Way to sound racist.

Avatar image for Killer_73

i think it will be better than scarface

Avatar image for slainta

I played the GoidFather and I actually had much more fun with that then with GTA Vice City. I still have to finish both, tho. Anyway, really a great game. I'm pretty much sure the sequel will be great as well.

Avatar image for vicsrealms

Hmm, this might have possibilities. I will have to keep an eye out for it. Couldn't get into the first one, but this looks like it has a bit of strategy added to it. Something, I always thought some of the GTA series lacked but could have always used.

Avatar image for StarStunna

I just can't wait for dis game to come out. Dis game looks real good.

Avatar image for bibalan

hey is there still papers on the streets?

Avatar image for ysef95

wow this looks good can't wait to play it

Avatar image for KA12NAG3

looks good

Avatar image for toyota22

wow lets hope its getting good.

Avatar image for affee_83

Waiting is the only and the worst option here. This game looks great..!

Avatar image for gkwon

Loved the first one, can't wait for this one! :D

Avatar image for gamer082009

Cant wait for this game, looks like loads of fun. I do prefer Mafia II but that's some long ways off, this suffice until then.

Avatar image for LardDude

Only a month and a few days! Looks Awesome... =D

Avatar image for Hedgyness

Looks interesting although Im just a little concerned about the storyline since they pretty much covered all the films in the first game. Could be pretty good though, looking forward to see how this turns out.

Avatar image for mooch35

Looks decent, I guess. I must admit, though, I am a huge Mafia fan so it's gonna be pretty tough to beat that. Mafia is possibly the greatest game ever. Great controls, graphics (for its time), story, etc. But we'll have to see when this comes out, I might give it a try.

Avatar image for FlashCharge

It seems that the game has some much needed depth. Hope the micro management doesn't get in the way of the game play. The story line is a key element to this game along with the game mechanics.

Avatar image for g3ck089

Looks worth while. I played the first game for some time, but i left it mid-game as i grew tired of it. This one seems to give you a reason to come back with all the strategic play, and the change of scenery. Looking forward to a release ^^

Avatar image for alfyman

The first was not that great. It got old + tons of glitches(not being able to leap from a car until stopped!). I'm not saying it was bad it just left me leaving a little more. This looks like they have added everything they needed.

Avatar image for marvingamebeast

great looking game and by the way the graphics aren't bad they just have their own style to me and regardless saints row 2 doesn't have good graphics but it is alot more fun to play than **** to avoid fanboys and yes I do have **** and I love it too.

Avatar image for Houghbot

looks like they put more into this game.. the first one was ok.. it got stale pretty fast... same thing over and over again.

Avatar image for paystation

looks good might get it

Avatar image for Gaming_Samurai

I played the first one. I wonder if this game's interrior's won't be recycled, like in the first part. That was... just... bleh. But looks good. TOMMY FTW!

Avatar image for TheWarlock_2040

lookin good

Avatar image for pulica_muistul

@ joecwild ... yes, exactly ...

Avatar image for SiMsquid92

Can other gangs contract hits against you?

Avatar image for joecwild

I think this game is going to be fun. I don't give a crap about the graphics.

Avatar image for captain110

I like it. I LIKE IT. cant wait