Monday, December 18, 2006

The Godfather

No, not the movie (althought it's a great movie). No, not the book (I haven't read it). Instead, I'm speaking of Godfather: The Game. My brother loaned me it at Thanksgiving and I just recently finished it through as far as I'm going to go. More on that in a bit.

All in all, it was a fun game. It was kind of cool to create a mob persona and go on a rampage through the streets of 1940s New York in an attempt to gain control of the city for the Corleone family. Granted, there was violence and language issues, but really, what else would you expect from a game based on The Godfather?

Another fun detail was the fact that your story was interwoven with the story of the movie itself. It's not just witnessing certain events (although there's plenty of that, such as Don Corleone getting shot in the streets or Sonny meeting his untimely demise at the toll booth). You also get to participate in some of the scenes from the movie, such as planting the gun that Michael uses in the restaurant and the baptism massacre from the end of the movie.

It was a little obvious that the game was attempting to be a mid-century version of Grand Theft Auto 3, but it worked pretty well. Games seem to be heading in a very non-linear direction lately, allowing the player to do pretty much whatever he or she wants in the order they want. It was nice to get a mission and know that I didn't have to do it right then, that I could go extort a few businesses or rob a bank if I was pressed for time.

But I do have a few gripes about the game. Two, specifically.

You'll notice that I said I finished it as far as I wanted to. Here's the reason why: the ridiculous requirements to truly finish the game. As near as I can tell, the requirements are as follows:
  1. Extort all businesses
  2. Seize control of the warehouses and hubs of your competitors
  3. Wipe out your rivals among the Five Families
  4. Finish all missions
  5. Complete all hit contracts
  6. Buy all the safe houses in the game
  7. Achieve every execution style in the game

Of those seven, I've done the first five. I could probably finish #6 as well. But it's #7 that annoys me. See, there are about two dozen "special" ways to kill a person. The game keeps a list of them all and lets you know when you achieve one (such as shooting a person in the head, killing them by punching them only, that sort of thing. Yes, the game is violent. I said that already). I figured this list was just window dressing; you know, interesting information for bragging rights.

Why did I think this? Because nowhere in the game or the manual does it say that you have to get every execution style to win! It doesn't even explain how to achieve every execution style.

So here I am, thinking that I've almost finished the game. I've extorted all the businesses, I've stolen all of my rival's warehouses and blown up their compounds, finishing their families. I've finished all the missions and made all the hits. And then the game told me about the execution styles.

With all my enemies dead and no more hits to make, what am I supposed to do? Go out and kill random civilians in random ways, hoping that I'll hit upon one of the needed execution styles? No thank you.

And here's my second gripe: this game was obviously developed for consoles like the XBox and Playstation before it became a computer game.

There are telltale signs. For example, the only way to save your game is to go to a safehouse. Some of the moves you're required to perform seem very clunky with a mouse and a keyboard and I suspect were designed to be done with a gamepad (throwing people comes to mind).

But the most annoying give-away is the aiming function. In the game, if you hit the right mouse button, your aiming reticle will lock on to the nearest target. Or at least, what the game thinks is the nearest target. There were several times when I would die in a shoot out because the game kept snapping my targeting reticle to an opponent who wasn't a threat, even though the reticle was closer to my threat. There were even a few times when it would lock onto a civilian and refuse to go anywhere else.

It's no secret that bad console-ports are a PC gamers' bane. And I think I know the reason why this annoys me so much: it reveals how lazy game developers can be.

Think about it this way: if you're taking a game that was originally and only made for a PC to a console, you have to severely rework the controls. The reason why is obvious: a game designed to work with a keyboard and a mouse won't work well with just a gamepad anymore. You have redesign the way it works or else it won't work.

Sadly, the same isn't true when it comes to the reverse situation. Instead of the half-dozen or so buttons, analog stick, and directional controls of a gamepad, you suddenly have close to a hundred keys and a mouse to work with. I think developers just get lazy, do very little PC fine-tuning, and call it good enough.

Unfortunately, I don't see how things will change. I doubt that any game developers will be dropping into my blog anytime soon. If they do, take note, guys, and please do something to change this.

But otherwise, I'm moving on from the Godfather to The Battle For Middle-Earth II. At least this one is for PC only. For now.

1 comment:

Jevin said...

Just bumped on your blog while googling for "godfather finished missions execution styles". Yeah i am in the same situation as you. Done all the missions and hit targets, but i still have 5 execution styles to be earned. (I wonder why they said to "Earn all execution styles". Why earn?? Its rather learn.) I think you are absolutely right about the aiming in the game. I have died like a million times in this way. The game is a bit repetitive to me. There are a lot a lot and a lot of shops and warehouses. But most of them look the same. Some warehouses are the exact same. Like you know exactly where the rival family members are and you know where to hide etc. Concerning the cars, i have seen only 6 models i think. There are 2 trucks, one that caries merchandise and another that is a bit like a 4x4. That leaves 4 cars: i have seen the car having 2 doors at the back, the batmobile kind of car and the other car. Oh there is also a Corleone car which is a bit like the car that has 2 doors at the back.

This is becoming long right now. 6 models is not enough for such a game which is why i think that the game is not really worth all this publicity it got. If you like mafia games try "Mafia: City of Lost Heaven". It came out in 2002 but i think that the game is far better than Godfather. The story for Mafia has to be one of the best storylines for a game. And not only a game, could be a great film or book.

And for the game, maybe you could try loading the game at a point where you have to do a hit, then you go there do an execution style on an enemy and let them kill you (before you finish the hit). Go there again, do another execution style and let them kill you again. And so until you got em all. This is awfully long. Anyway cheers dude.