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The Godfather Review

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Your chance to make all the offers others can't refuse you like, is finally here.

★★★★

Having been berated by Francis Ford Coppola for developing a Godfather game — "I had nothing to do with it and I disapprove," the director fumed in a US television interview — Paramount and Electronic Arts have a battle on their hands to convince fans to take a chance on this ambitious adventure. But despite Coppola’s fears, the game treats its hallowed source material with respect, passion and imagination.

Rather than casting players as a familiar Corleone mobster, The Godfather allows you to create your own wise guy and explore a beautifully-realised 1940s New York, where you can run jobs for the family, collect protection money and whack rival gangsters in your quest to become Mafia top dog. And instead of messing with the original story, the tale of your virtual hoodlum runs parallel with the movie’s plot arc; so while you can’t stop Sonny being killed, you can take revenge on his assassins.

Unlike many action games, The Godfather also puts heavy focus on the consequences of your actions, so that gamers who are too brutal in their methods will be hampered by unwanted attention from the police, while players who take the time to build a fearsome reputation will get what they want merely by threatening violence and making offers that cops and local businesses can’t refuse.

As the game borrows heavily from Grand Theft Auto, comparisons are inevitable. But while the period the game is set in makes for a less gleefully-thrilling experience — the old-fashioned shooters lack the punch of GTA’s weapons, and the cumbersome cars seem to have been given an unnatural speed-boost to compete with San Andreas’ hot rods — The Godfather still offers incredible freedom and depth, and the original soundtrack, complex character customisation and voice talent of James Caan and Robert Duvall make it feel like a genuine extension of Coppola’s trilogy.

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