This is one of those games that wasn’t critically praised but still made it onto my list of personal favourites. Being honest though, that wasn’t always the case, when I first bought myself a copy I played it for a few hours and just couldn’t get into it, I gave up and just didn’t return to it for a few years. The break must have done me some good though because when I did return to it I found that it was far better than I remembered and I became as engrossed in it as I did in the original game. Speaking of the original game (and you can check out my review of that by clicking here) while my view of this game has improved over the years, I still feel that it fails in what I feel is the core concept of a sequel (something that improves or develops on aspects from the original). Not that it was significantly worse than the original, the difference between the two games was not a particularly wide margin, but I feel that in terms of story the first game was richer and more engaging, although since it was based on the first Godfather movie and I prefer that movie to its sequel as well it’s fairly clear as to why I might feel like that. While I think nothing could improve on the power of The Godfather, I do feel that the second game did improve on the core aspects of the game, for example the combat mechanics are more fluid, and there’s just a whole lot more to do in the game, which replaying a few years later I really appreciated.
The Godfather 2 came out in 2009, this was a while after Grand Theft Auto stormed onto the scene and changed the face of the open world shooter genre and so without using the Godfather licence this game wouldn’t be as interesting, in fact it wouldn’t be unfair to say that it borrows from games like GTA and Mafia, but while it can’t exactly be considered groundbreaking it’s more than just a cash in on a famous movie, and it’s well worth playing, much like the original. It felt a whole lot shorter overall than its predecessor, which is kind of counterintuitive because there was more to do, but when you balance out the more balanced, fluid gameplay it’s just easier. Whereas the first game was often challenging, and enjoyable in part due to that challenge.
I think one of my biggest issues with this game was that it failed to utilise certain elements as well as it might have been able to, for example in this game there is a new feature called the ‘Squad Mechanic’ which puts you in charge of a variety of ‘Made Men’, a feature which reminds me of something in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas where you can recruit gang members, but whereas in San Andreas you could only recruit these characters as Cannon fodder to fight other gang members, in The Godfather 2 these ‘Made Men’ have a variety of abilities which they can use to help you as you climb the hierarchy of the criminal underworld. For example, there is a ‘Made Man’ who specialises in demolitions, he can rig a bomb to a car or building, and thus is useful for infiltration and larceny, or you have one who specialises in engineering and can help you cut through fences or cut out enemy communications. Now while this mechanic was interesting and made for some fun missions, I feel it was underused because it was so by the numbers, you needed a specific skill to beat a specific challenge, and so it felt restrictive. All it would take is a few tweaks, allow the player to strategize and pick the best route for them and their team, and work out a unique solution to their problems and it would have been a far superior game. Not to keep comparing this game to GTA, but this potential mechanic I’m suggesting was kind of harnessed in Grand Theft Auto V during the heists, so I know how easily it could have worked.
Something that I really enjoyed from the first game was the extortion mechanic, and that carried right through to this game. They did change it up slightly, now when you are applying pressure (i.e smashing up stuff or throwing people around) to a business owner a meter will pop up with two red bars, you need to reach the first red bar in order to earn any money from extortion, after you’ve reached that point, anything else you earn after that is just additional profit, but you do need to be careful not to go past the second red bar or you’ll push the business owner too far and they’ll snap and attack you, or at the very least you’ll get nothing for all your troubles. I think the main reason that I enjoyed the extortion aspect of the game so much is that it really did make you me feel like a real ‘wiseguy’ and it was really fun trying to earn that extra little bit of money by pushing the business owner right to the edge of his limit or by finding out their unique weak point (i.e some business owners do not like being hit, others don’t like being threatened or having their store damaged). All in all, it’s just a very fun part of the game that for the most part can be completely ignored in favour of the main storyline, but is still enjoyable in its own right.
Another new aspect to this game were the crime rings, as with the previous game your main aim is to takeover the criminal enterprises and legitimate business, but now each business is now connected to a much larger multi-business crime ring owned by one of the crime families and once you’ve taken over all of the business owned by that crime family you’ll gain a special bonus, for example taking over the diamond smuggling businesses with give you bulletproof vests, and a nice bonus is that it also removes them from the gang which had them before making them far easier to dispatch.
Also like the previous game, one of your main aims is to take over the strongholds of a rival gang, and so once you’ve taken over all of the businesses controlled by another crime family, you then want to attack their stronghold before they have time to cover and eradicate them, which gives you a tremendous boost, while bringing you a step closer to a complete takeover. I think what I liked about this was that it was a mixture of elements that made you successful, firstly you needed at least a little luck because even the best player can fall short, but also you need skill and a strategy to get through it, sure you could just run in guns blazing, and that is a recognised strategy but overall you can just get caught up in the whole thing. Every time you infiltrated the compound, shooting and killing everyone in your path, planted a bomb and then escaped before it exploded, it was it’s own little adventure.
One of my main criticisms of this game was that it diverged too greatly from the movie storyline, at times changing the order of events, or removing them entirely. To an extent the same claim could be made of the previous game, but while Aldo Trapani, the original character from the first game, supported events from the first movie, such as the infamous horse head in the bed scene, the character from the second game, Dominic is more actively and directly involved in events, which I feel kind of taints things a little.
But perhaps my biggest complaint, for all the good and bad that this game has to offer, is that it didn’t get a sequel, a third game wasn’t produced and I just feel like that was a shame. I feel like the third movie wouldn’t have translated as well to a game, but they easily could have created an original storyline set within The Godfather universe, but alas at least for now it’s not to be.
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