The Godfather: Mob Wars First Look

EA's mobster saga is getting an unexpected makeover on the PSP. We get a look at the changes being made to Mob Wars.

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Earlier this year, The Godfather made its honorable appearance on current-gen consoles, and EA is now working on ports of the game to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation Portable. It might surprise you to find out that the latter of these ports, subtitled Mob Wars, is actually undergoing some significant design changes to make it more accessible on the portable format. We got a look at Mob Wars at today's EA press event to see what makes this card-based game of strategy tick.

What? Cards? Strategy? Yeah, we were surprised at first, too. But the whole thing looks like it'll work surprisingly well. Mob Wars isn't the same free-roaming game of New York conquest that it was on the big consoles, but then, the goal is still to take over all the city's boroughs, edge out the other major crime families, and become the undisputed kingpin of organized crime. You'll do this through an overhead, map-based interface not unlike the board game Risk. You'll move your units around from one space to another, contesting territories controlled by the other families and taking over as much space as you can. You'll have the same rivalries with these families that you did in the console version (referred to as vendetta), so the higher your vendetta against a particular family, the harder that family will come after you when you clash. The same goes for the "heat" stat, which gauges how much the cops want to bring you down.

The game's card aspect comes into play when you begin to take over businesses and territories and gain more wealth, just like in the console games. You'll even have ratings in five rackets, including gambling, guns, and gold and diamonds, that will determine how much you're reaping. Except this time, all those riches will yield more and better cards (from a pool of roughly 250) that can impart all sorts of effects when you play them with each turn. One card might lower your vendetta with a certain family, while another might fortify your defenses in a given mission. You can form temporary alliances with families, receive kickbacks from the cops over a series of turns, transport multiple spaces across the map, and more. In short, the cards ought to make the turn-based aspect a very strategic affair.

But once you engage in combat with one of the other families--or even if you're merely seizing an unoccupied territory--you'll enter a third-person 3D action mode nearly identical to that of the console versions. Of course a few concessions have been made to the PSP's comparatively limited controls--you now get a minimap that shows you where enemies are located, for instance--but the original game's melee and grappling controls and lock-on targeting have all made the jump intact. The action plays out in quick bursts, as do the strategic turns, so you'll be able to play the game for just a few minutes on the go if you want.

From what we saw, The Godfather has turned into a different and fairly compelling animal on the PSP. Hopefully the addition of the turn-based elements and card strategy will fit well with the portable format. The game is due out in September, so we'll get to make that determination soon enough.

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