The Godfather: Blackhand Edition Reader Review
Ask any serious gamer about their Wii, now that we're six months after the release of the system, and they'll all tell you the same thing. The first is that the lack of mature, serious titles for the Wii is frustrating, and the second is that second-rate half-hearted ports of last years titles with token motion controls bolted on will kill the innovation that made them buy the system in the first place. Chances are, a lot of Wii owners are nodding along with me right now.
Well, it was with this in mind that I started to play The Godfather: Blackhand Edition. Given that this is the first "me-too" Grand Theft Auto port to hit the Wii, and that it has already been spotted on three other systems, I was reluctant to open my heart to what I was sure was a disappointing title. However, The Godfather has proved me wrong (and entertained me along the way).
After playing about with the remarkably detailed character creation tool, I leapt straight into the shady, grimy world of the most infamous First Family of crime. The world of the Corleone family has been recreated on the Wii with surprising skill, with superior voice-acting and reasonable graphics. The textures are quite well presented, and while the character models aren't as detailed as on other next-gen systems, they suffice to create a believable world. Combined with a brilliant orchestral score, the atmosphere in The Godfather is as dark and developed as in the original movies.
However, it is with the motion-controls that the game really comes into its own. Melee combat is a joy, with thrusts of the Wiimote and Nunchuck producing comparable results in-game. Jabbing causes your character to punch, while grabbing an enemy and flinging both hands left or right lets you throw your opponent across the room and out the window. There is a reasonably usable targeting system, which locks onto enemies nearby, but which cleverly allows you to refine your aim using the Wiimote as a pointer. Targeting weak spots is therefore easy and enjoyable, putting the player completely in control. After a short time of adjusting to the novel controls, you'll be racking up headshots and sending fedoras flying.
The game leaves you free to roam the streets of New York at will. Missions are available, following the story of the films and filling in a few plotholes along the way. Certain characters from the films will also ask you to do them favours, as well as carrying out hits on those people who have declined the offer that they shoudn't have refused. Also available are businesses and illegal rackets, which must be discovered and taken over in order to build up your protection racket empire. Taking over is as simple as threatening the owner into submission, by physically beating them, threatening their customers or busting up their shop. Everyone has their weak point, and finding that is half the fun. For instance, bakers don't like the threat of being pushed into their ovens, while house-proud bar owners really don't like it if you bust up their bar with a baseball bat. Occasionally, taking over a business gives you access to the backrooms, in which an illegal activity is taking place. Taking over that illegal racket will give you more money come payday, allowing you to buy more advanced weapons and to gain more respect from your gangster peers. Taking over businesses is great fun, to be honest, as it gives you plenty of opportunity to use the fantastic motion controls. Seizing them from enemy families is even more satisfying, as you will first need to eliminate the punks guarding the place before turning the screws on the owner.
That doesn't mean the game is without downsides. NPC's walking down the street are very similar in appearance, and the cars available to drive are pretty much the same. The RPG style character improvement system allows access to interesting new abilities, but there are not enough points available in-game to allow you to access them all with the same character. The game may be enjoyable, but hardly worth the time and effort of playing more than once to access different skills. Also, some of the locations of the game (particularly businesses) suffer from a certain amount of cutting-and-pasting, with many looking identical once you get inside. It's hardly likely that all of New York's hotels look exactly the same inside, is it? Hiring companions to give you back-up in fire fights is a bit of a let-down, given that you can only ever hire one at a time. If I'm going to become Don of New York City, I expect to have more of an entourage that one goon at at time.
Aside from that, The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is a quality title for a quality system. Despite a few flaws, it is more than capable of filling the gap between the first-party title releases for the Wii, and is more entertaining than a whole handful of Disney spin-offs. The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is one of a rare breed - it's a movie spin-off title that's actually good. Capice?
7 / 10