When it first came out for the PS2 and Xbox, The Godfather was considered a flop. A number of issues plagued the game, so when EA decided to bring the game over to the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii, it went back to the drawing board to fix a lot of those problems.
EA also decided to incorporate the Wii remote and PS3’s SIXAXIS controller into their respective console’s games with motion controls. The Godfather: Blackhand Edition for the Wii is the end result of that decision, and it’s more than just a simple port.
The Godfather’s story draws from the movie of the same name for a large part of the storyline missions, while adding in some new characters to flesh out the story. You play as a man whose father was gunned down by the Barzini family in 1936. We then move to the opening wedding scene from the film, where your mother asks Don Corelone to look after you and recruit you into the Mafia. From there, you start working your way up the Corelone Family ladder, all the way until you get to be Don of New York City.
The Godfather features many of the actors who were alive when the game was in production reprising their roles from the film, including Robert Duvall, James Caan, and Marlon Brando in his final role. Other actors who have passed on have had their likenesses placed into the game as well, and EA has done a good job of doing so. Unfortunately, there’s one noticeable difference, and that’s Michael Corleone, as Al Pacino didn’t give Paramount and EA his blessing to use his voice and likeness in the game. Michael’s still in there, but he just looks and sounds a bit different. The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is also unique in that it feature the Wii remote controls, but we’ll touch on that in a bit.
There’s a lot about The Godfather that will seem familiar to fans of similar-style games. The game is all about bringing businesses under your family while simultaneously trying to wipe out the other mob families in New York. You have a wide arsenal of upgradable weapons at your disposal, including tommy guns, revolvers, shotguns, Molotov cocktails, lead pipes, bats, and your own two fists. The game contains a mission-based story mode, as well as a chain of missions that are favors for the Corleone family and hits on other mob members. The rest of the time is yours, which you’ll be able to use to free-roam around each of The Godfather’s five neighborhoods.
But the difference between The Godfather and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, for example, is that The Godfather stresses using your street smarts over firepower. You’ll be spending most of your time negotiating with business owners, sometimes perhaps through more physical means. However, adding these businesses and the hidden rackets that many of them have, you’ll increase your own cash flow and power. The Godfather also harshly penalizes you if you just decide to go on a rampage by sending the fuzz in to take you down, although you can pay off cops to lower your heat.
What really makes the game fun and sets it apart from all other versions of The Godfather is the Wii motion controls. There are over 50 of them in the game, many which are used for in-game executions. EA has done a great job in making the controls fit the action and making them fun; for example, choking another mobster is done by bringing the Wiimote and nunchaku apart and then together, moving back and forth to simulate the act of choking. The punching controls seem similar to those of boxing in Wii Sports, but they feel like they match up with the action better. Still, the game doesn’t always pick up your motions after the first time, meaning that very rarely, you might have to repeat the motion. The game also features precision aiming with the press of a button. Here, the game gets a bit sloppy and it can be hard to aim, but when you get it to work right, it’s highly accurate.
For a Wii game, The Godfather doesn’t look too bad. Though it’s obviously not as good as its PS3 or Xbox 360 counterparts, the differences really aren’t too noticeable. The only real graphical difference is that the 360 and PS3 versions have facial bruising when your character gets punched there, which is a fair trade-off for the improved controls. Most of the soundtrack is from or inspired by The Godfather film, so it fits the time period, and the use of the surviving actors to record their own dialogue helps you feel like you’re stepping into the film. It’s a pity that Pacino wouldn’t let his likeness be used, because it’s a very noticeable difference that Michael Corelone is not the same. It’s especially a pity since Scarface: The World is Yours got Pacino’s full blessing, yet this game didn’t.
Like any other sandbox-style game, The Godfather offers a ton of replay value. Many of the collectibles are not required to reach Don of NYC level, meaning that if you choose, you can go back and collect all of them at a later time. You can also run truck driving missions and start up gang wars, even once you’ve reached the top of the heap.
It might seem like a stretch to make this statement, but The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is on the same level with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Excite Truck as a must-have game for all Wii owners, especially when compared to all the other games currently out on the system. Blackhand controls might not be 100 percent perfect, but if you want unique controls and can live without facial bruising, then this is the Godfather game for you.
The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, and Strong Language. This game can also be found on: PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox and Xbox 360.