The Godfather Xbox 360 Impressions

We get a new look at the next-gen edition of EA's mobster epic.

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If you were wondering what EA's been doing with the extra development time on its Xbox 360 version of The Godfather in the months since the current-gen versions shipped, the answer isn't just "bumping up the texture resolution" (although they're doing that too). The dev team is actually adding a significant amount of extra content, not to mention tweaking a lot of what's already there to streamline the experience. We got a look at the game in its current state to see how things have evolved and improved.

In terms of actual new material, a new favor system has been introduced whereby certain characters will ask you to complete tasks for them, for which you'll receive rewards in the form of more respect and new businesses to control. One business owner might ask you to take out some thugs threatening to torch his shop, for instance, and upon completing this task he'll pay you protection money without even making you shake him down. Several new hits have been added to the existing hit missions already in the game, and hits are now assigned and carried out in the same borough for quicker play. Four new missions will also be added to give you a few extra goals to pursue, and one of these involves the heist of and subsequent hit on Mo Green seen in the original film.

Lots of the existing content in The Godfather is also being tweaked on the Xbox 360. There's now a night/day cycle that actually affects what's available to you, in terms of black-market sellers and the like. The family compounds now offer more distinctive gameplay and have been updated visually to look a bit different. The vehicle physics have been adjusted to make the cars feel more realistic, and traffic density has been modified as well. Finally, the auto-targeting system behaves more intelligently now, since it will take innocents out of the queue when you're in combat and only jump between hostile targets, which saves you some headaches.

Another interesting new gameplay feature is the addition of the crew member, which will let you enlist powerful mob allies to run around with you on your nefarious activities. Your sidekick can ride with you in the car and will follow your lead, so when you draw your weapon during a mission, he will too. Even better, you can use your ally to fire from either side of your moving vehicle to stave off pursuit whenever necessary.

On the graphics side, new lighting and particle effects are on offer, and characters will now display bruises and other injuries persistently, even when you leave and come back after awhile (and they'll slowly heal over time). The world is full of destructible objects now, as you can hose down shelves full of bottles and boxes to create pandemonium in a given shop. Speaking of which, the internals of many shops have been tweaked in a variety of ways so that no two are exactly the same. Finally, the game runs in HD resolution, of course, and the frame rate appeared to be quite smooth for the most part during our demo.

Any Xbox 360 owner worth his or her points will want to know about the game's achievements, so we had to ask. Currently there are 38 in the game (though this could change), and they range from easy tasks, such as your first bank heist, to much more difficult ones, like pulling heists on all the banks in the city at the same time. In addition to all the new stuff that's being added to the game, these achievements may make The Godfather a worthwhile play on the 360 even if you've played the original, and this looks like the best version to get if you never tried it the first time around. The game is due out later this year, so we'll bring you more info as its release approaches.

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