Brando's voice not in Godfather?

So says the New York Times.

The much-hyped vocal performance by the late Marlon Brando in EA's forthcoming The Godfather: The Game may not be used in the title after all, according to a New York Times report this week.

The newspaper reports that the recording session with Brando - claimed to be the last professional work he did before his death last year - were hampered by the actor's "fragile condition," which meant that he could only breathe with the aid of an oxygen tank.

As a result, EA has been forced to turn to a sound-alike to record the dialogue of Vito Corleone for the game - although the company says that it may still be able to use some of Brando's recording in some context.

"It's still to be determined how the development team will choose to use what was recorded with Mr. Brando," an EA representative told US website GameSpot. The recordings are reportedly marred by the loud noise of Brando breathing through a tube.

Speaking to us earlier this year about Brando's recording session with the development team, creative director Philip Campbell described the experience as "one of the best moments of my life."

"It was enlightening," he said, "because he gave us some great inside information about the role. He really gets it - he really got computer games, and what they were about, which was really surprising."

Fellow actors Robert Duvall and James Caan have recorded dialogue to reprise their roles in the classic movie for the game, although the key character of Michael, played by Al Pacino, will not feature Pacino's voice or likeness as he declined to be involved.

The Godfather, one of EA's key releases both on current-generation platforms and as an early next-generation title, ran into controversy earlier in the year when Francis Ford Coppola, director of the movie trilogy, publicly disassociated himself from the project.

"I knew nothing about it," he told US TV show Sunday Morning ShootOut. "I had absolutely nothing to do with the game and I disapprove. I think it's a misuse of film."

"They use the characters everyone knows, and they hire those actors to be there, and only to introduce minor characters," he continued. "And then for the next hour they shoot and kill each other."

His statements, however, directly contradicted claims by EA's producer on the product, David De Martini, who told us that "we've met with [Coppola] on one occasion and we shared with him what our vision was for the game, and where we were going to go... He isn't choosing to participate in the project, but he did invite us up to the Coppola winery where he has his own private library."

The title is due for launch on PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PC, PSP and Xbox 360 later this year.

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