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Godfather: Blackhand Edition (aka Wii Edition) Review
guest starring Marlon Brando's Corpse
[insert hacky opening line that references a well-known quote said by Marlon Brando at some point]
A Godfather game seems like the ultimate sacrilege. Worse than a Seven Samurai game. Worse than a Fight Club game. Worse than a Shield game. And yes, those three did all fucking happen. Something about The Godfather, even though in theory it'd be easy to translate to an interactive experience, just feels...wrong. You know? One should not fuck with a masterpiece and try to transmute it into a form which does not offer any chance for improvement or accuracy. Considering all the organized crime games out for every goddamn console, the idea of a Godfather game doesn't amount to anything new. Ooh, it'll be like GTA3...only you'll interact with NPCs loosely based on iconic film characters! HOLY SHIT, DUDE, SIGN ME FUCKIN' UP!!! Yet in spite of all the hindsight earned by countless shitty butcherings of great films, EA decided to dig up the cinematic corpse that is the Godfather franchise and do a number on it that surpasses Godfather Part 3 in terms of disgusting decadence. And to think EA didn't need to have Sofia Coppola (she looks like a female version of Nicolas Cage, seriously) in their employ.
The campaign/singleplayer has you playing as an invented character with amazing amounts of customability who... actually, you know, let me instead tell you of a surefire way to enjoy the game more than you normally would. Don't listen to the dialogue in the cutscenes. Turn your head while they play on screen. Never listen to any dialogue in the game. Blast some KMFDM or Manson or Skinny Puppy like I did. You'll enjoy it more since you won't be privy to the inanity of the story and how it relates to The Godfather. And you won't hear the horrible fill-in the developers got in lieu of Al Pacino's participation. All you need to know about the story is you play a new person wedged into the mythos of the series. Sound defiling of the films? You bet. It's basically bad fanfiction. But bad fanfiction you don't have to sit through.
Gameplay-wise, The Godfather Game greatly resembles the open-area free-roaminess of the GTA series, and I suspect that's intentional. Every crime-related game of the past 5 or so years has in one way or another mimicked the sandbox aspect of Grand Theft Auto 3 to sometimes success but more often failure. I've had a fair amount of experience with GTA ripoffs, as my reviews of True Crime: Streets of LA and NARC unfortunately prove. While The Godfather Game does not fail to the extent those games did, there are still some problems in its emulation of the GTA style. Really, my biggest problem is the one I have with all these crime games, the GTA series included: the lack of incentive in following any of the missions or advancing the storyline. At some point in any and all of the GTA/GTA ripoff games, I begin to lose interest to do anything but running around and killing people and evading cops and wrecking cars. The inherent fun of wanton acts of destruction for no particular reason fascinates me, more so than the joyless tasks of "follow the ambulance" or "keep shitty AI character from dying".
Whenever a game reaches that, I lose interest in advancing the storyline and I have to push myself to finish the game (or get someone to do it for me). For Godfather Blackhand, that came at the juncture when I had to follow an ambulance to ensure the Don survives. Not only do I hate this type of mission, I think the basic premise is flawed. Why would the Mafia need to follow an ambulance to the hospital? Wouldn't they already know the location of the hospital, since I assume most normal fucking people have a good idea of where local hospitals are for the sake of their family should they ever need immediate medical attention? I know the addresses of several local hospitals and I'm not in a field where casualties are common and expected. Also, don't mobsters usually forgo hospitals in favor of back alley doctors who don't ask any questions about gunshot wounds? I would think the makers of Godfather Game would need a little knowledge of how the mob operates before making this dreck.
In addition to the main missions, the game tasks you with completing various optional tasks, like extorting a certain amount of businesses or bringing in a certain amount of cash. Again, nothing new from the GTA mold or the ripoff GTA mold from True Crime or NARC. In fact, I'm somewhat reminded of my gameplay experiences with NARC, since, like NARC, Godfather Game has all the health meter heat meter bullshit I got tired of there. See, what differentiates it from GTA is, in GTA3, the amount of heat per crime and the response time of cops made a certain amount of sense. In Godfather, they obviously programmed the heat while on heavy drugs or on a deadline 5 minutes away. Why the fuck would I get the cops on me if I murdered a nurse and a doctor in a backroom clinic? Would they magically hear me beating them to death through the police department's spider sense? The heat increases so much so after killing a couple people that you can't not die in a firefight with Irish cops. Hilariously, you receive few penalties for repeatedly dying. Another stellar bit of coding.
Marlon Brando's Corpse is here, lying and stinking on my carpet. MB's C, do you have anything to say about your appearance in Godfather: The Game existing in spite of your death many years ago?
Imgonnamakeyhimanofferhecantrefuse. [chokes on burger lodged in throat] You live among the humans, Kal-El, but you are not one of them. You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Stella!!! Stella!!! [gurgles on his own puke]
Ugh. I'm gonna have to throw him in the trash one of these days. But I think I need to hang on to him for a little while longer; Bryan Singer probably wants to use him for his next boring Superman movie.
The Wii controls separate Blackhand from the other console iterations of the game. It's pretty self explanatory; you use the nunchuk and the Wii remote in combat situations for punching. Certain movement combos execute or torture or extort or other things associated with the Black Hand methodology. Overall, the controls are pretty good, but the mechanics not so much. The driving segments especially suffer from poor handling and the total inability to make sharp turns or, really, any turns except for those you intend to make about 5 miles before you actually fucking turn. While in driving games I expect to routinely knock down people on the sidewalk and incurring numerous casualties, I understand some people want to drive well and therefore I feel compelled to criticize. If you've played Godfather before, all Blackhand offers are these unique controls specially designed for the Wii. Little else. I don't think I need to tell you $50 for a control scheme does not wash as a good purchase.
Further hurting the game is the seriously retarded AI. And I do mean seriously. I'll give you an example. I'm trying to escape the cops. I hide in an alleyway, inside a room where I can duck behind a wall. Now, the cops see me going in there. Yet they do not follow me, despite knowing I have no ammo or weaponry or any fucking defense from them. It's almost as if when I disappear from sight I'm also some sort of invisible man capable of murdering them while they sleep. And the repetitive moments the programmers gave the NPCs suck as well. When I go near a cop in a non-combat situation, he's forever frozen in a "tut tut" movement cycle, moving his hand to nonverbally tell me off until about five minutes pass and he feels it necessary to blow his whistle and begin beating on me using his baton. You would think a high budget game such as this would require a little more effort than 'minimal' or 'no'. On the plus side, if you suck, no missions should prove overly difficult with the possible exception of the driving missions, which suffer from the awful driving controls. Those give you ample experience driving a shopping cart with no wheels, on fire and covered in bubonic plague.
Blackhand feels the burn of simultaneous development for PS3 and Wii versions insofar as the graphics look terrible...yes, for a Wii game. [insert gratuitous, repetitive crack about the Wii's graphical capabilities] Seriously, I expected better, though I've somewhat come to understand third parties put little to no effort into Wii titles since they know the success of the Wii should ensure success of their game, regardless of quality. Wherever the graphics guys were during development, it sure wasn't where their job was supposed to take place. I bet they spent the majority of the cycle eating shitty Chinese take-out and jerking off and then finishing everything up in about a week. It would explain the bad clipping, the repetitive animation, the unrealistic fire effects and bad NPC designs (anyone other than a character from the film looks like shit). Man, I'm gonna pissed unless I find out EA used the game as a way to clean their dirty money. Otherwise, there's no reason why the game looks and plays as bad as it does.
Despite that, it's not terrible in the way other GTA clones are. No hilariously inaccurate drug effects like in NARC, no ninja gangsta storyline like in True Crime: Streets of LA. There are pretty good production values (most of the cast reprise their roles with the notable exception of Chihuahuaface Pacino, decent music, etc.) and the programmers competently brought to the game a mediocre version of the sandbox engine. So yes, the injustice is not that The Godfather Game is unspeakably awful. In fact, if it were, I'd say something positive at this juncture; I would call it an injustice to remember. Yet the game is entirely mediocre, and I believe that's the most damning aspect of all. A Godfather piece of media should be memorable, whether good or bad. The books were memorably trashy dreck; the first two films memorably spectacular; the last part memorably terrible and disappointing and too much Sofia Coppola on the knob. This? Boring. Forgettable. Repetitive. Marginal. Faceless. Identityless. Stripped of name characters, familiar scene re-dos, and Marlon Brando, this game would be another in a long line of GTA3 clones. And that's a motherfucking shame. The genius of Coppola's films didn't even inspire a spirited failure; merely a half-assed, ill-thought out one. Fucking EA assholes can't even fuck up well!
How many needles of black tar heroin to make this game good?:
more than the Italian mob could possibly traffic