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 like a risky move 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 it's the Wii's turn. There are several minor but noticeable enhancements and gameplay tweaks in the Wii 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: Blackhand 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.
Intimidating sniveling shop owners is as fun as ever in Blackhand Edition.
As you might expect from a Wii game, The Godfather: Blackhand Edition incorporates some unique control features. You play the game with both the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk, where you interact with objects using the remote and move around with the Nunchuk's analog stick. You can point your gun, throw punches, open doors, reload weapons, and execute enemies using this control scheme. It works well, and it's fun to beat up mobsters and toss them through windows by actually performing the respective gestures. It does get old, though, and at times the movements don't seem to register properly unless you use exaggerated gestures. Using this control scheme you also have to adjust the camera using the directional pad, which makes it difficult and cumbersome to get a good view of your surroundings, especially in indoor areas. In addition to the new controls, the Wii version of the game contains a good helping of new missions, as well as new and redesigned locations. The added content is a nice bonus, but most of it is in no way integral to the rest of the game.
The game 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. Flash forward a few years to the wedding scene from the opening of the film, and 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 simply 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.
Eventually you'll become a made man, but the game doesn't end there.
Extorting businesses and taking over rackets isn't all there is to do, though. 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 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 Wii and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, the map 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 Wii 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 dÃ©jÃ© vu.
The Godfather borrows heavily from the Grand Theft Auto series of games, so you can expect the same senseless violence and absurd mayhem those games are known for. 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 Wii version of the game you can pay the police to actually fight alongside you.