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The Godfather Blackhand Edition
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The Godfather Blackhand Edition - Review
Written by James Hobbs

The Godfather on Wii is something I’ve been secretly anticipating ever since it was first announced some time ago. Whilst I love Wii Sports as much as the next person, there’s a certain satisfaction to be gleaned from tossing someone off the side of a large building that you simply cannot get from whacking tennis balls around, or indeed from any of the other Wii games we’ve seen thus far. The Godfather Blackhand Edition is an 18 – a proper 18. It would seem the guys in charge at Nintendo have loosened their ties, kicked off their shoes, and finally allowed some fairly graphic violence to be seen on one of their consoles.

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'He ate my peanut.'
The 18 rating is fairly, if not entirely deserved. Whilst you can bash a hooker’s skull in with a tire iron, smash a shop owner’s head through his till, and pump anyone you choose full of shotgun rounds, the quality of the graphics and the detail level means that it never really seems that realistic, or particularly shocking. It’s undoubtedly great fun, if you’re vaguely deranged, to pitch a fat man off the top of his illegal business and watch his head slap sickeningly into the ground below, but it simply doesn’t look as real as perhaps it could, or should.

When you’re playing the game, you get the distinct impression that the lacklustre graphics aren’t intentional, either – it’s not some effort to appease ‘worried parents’ or ‘concerned teachers’ or whichever other strata of society might choose to get offended by the content. It is, I would wager, due to the fact that a PSP version of the game was also in development – graphically, the two don’t look that far removed. Whilst some nice graphical effects are present, such as explosions, small particle details, and fairly good character facial modelling, on the whole the game wouldn’t look out of place on a PSP, which is hugely disappointing. Wii is capable of far more.

Thankfully, however, the slack graphics aren’t enough to detract from the rest of the game. It’s essentially a GTA clone, but with the wonderful atmosphere of The Godfather films. Much of the game follows the storyline of the three films, allowing you to watch and play through scenes that actually occurred on-screen. Instead of the rather ropey plot seen in GTA: San Andreas, you are instead presented with something vaguely resembling the lovechild of Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola, and... someone who knows how to make games. Many of the actors in the films provided their vocal talents for use in the game, including Marlon Brando, and it generates a surprisingly rich and entertaining storyline that is genuinely involving. There is a definite sense of purpose, particularly in the missions given to you by ‘the family,’ and the excellent voice acting and motion capture allows you to become immersed in The Godfather universe, even if it does look like shit.

I’m sorry to regress, but a superior graphics engine would have immeasurably improved the game. Whilst the city of New York is large, and takes some time to navigate, it somehow doesn’t feel quite as open and expansive as it should – the journeys between districts are made via either bridges or tunnels, which do not allow you to gaze from one side to the other. There’s been a conscious effort to obscure any kind of grandiose backdrops from your vision, and instead you are confronted with row upon row of uniform, repetitive buildings, broken up occasionally by parks or other structures. You cannot jump, and the only way of scaling buildings is to take a lift, and as such you spend most of your time in what feels like a warren of vaguely differentiated tunnels, with the same building interiors and walls being repeated fairly often. It’s a great shame, as it would have been wonderful to be able to have a bit more freedom in terms of where you can go – it would seem the developers didn’t feel inclined to make more of an effort to exploit Wii’s capabilities.

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