- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Here’s a look at some hardware and software that’s available:

The Godfather from Electronic Arts for Xbox 360, rated Mature, $59.99. Electronic Arts made entertainment console owners an offer they could not refuse earlier this year with the transformation of one of the best films and gangster novels of all time into a third-person video game adventure for the Xbox and PlayStation 2.

A bigger and better version of the Corleone crime family saga now debuts for the Xbox 360, continuing the celebration of director Francis Ford Coppola and author Mario Puzo’s vision of the New York City mafia in the 1940s.

After watching the death of Johnny Trapini, a single player assumes the role of his grown-up son and first personalizes the tough guy through more than 25 types of features that range from a pencil-thin mustache to an angular jaw to a beer belly.

The newly created antihero now takes to the streets and tries to work his way up from lowly thug to don of the Big Apple as he challenges four other shady families through 66 missions, often loaded with violent, bloody action.

Just about anything a player imagines a gangster would do while roaming the open-ended streets of Little Italy, Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown, Brooklyn and the worst parts of New Jersey can be accomplished through very active environments and a quick-to-use control scheme. Special assignments might involve contract hits, taking over an area’s rackets (i.e. gambling, counterfeiting, etc.), safecracking, hijacking a car or truck filled with merchandise, and extorting the local shop owners.

Levels of extortion play a major role in the game as characters around the city can be simply threatened to hand over protection money or must be taught a lesson that takes them to the brink of death. A meter system lets the player know how far he can go and how much cash he can expect, before his victim decides to fight back.

Of course, cash helps the player on the road to mafia stardom. Wealth buys tailored clothes to raise a character’s respect and intimidation factor and can help save his life or simply buy off an enemy.

Let’s also not forget about those pesky coppers who are around to prevent a player from simply running roughshod over the locals at will and causing major mayhem throughout the city Forget to grease their palms and they will be on a player’s tail looking for a much heavier payout — maybe even shooting first and never asking questions. Keep New York’s finest happy, however, and they may even lend some support for a crooked player’s extracurricular activities.

The game does not definitively mirror the movie, but with voice-over work provided by the original stars including James Caan, Robert Duvall, Abe Vigoda and even the late Marlon Brando, Carmine Coppola’s wonderful score, and the ability to unlock film clips to get into the mood, I was more than pleased with the cinematic immersion.

The Godfather for the Xbox 360 does deliver, with mythic proportions, the world of the Italian mob and will make virtual wise guys out of any average gamer.

Those lost in New York City might appreciate Prima Games’ massive, 383-page strategy guide ($19.99) that details the missions, adds a tour of the city’s hot spots and chronicles the exploits of all of the families.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail ([email protected]).

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