Here at home, 2 days off a 3 day weekend, feeling like crap due to some mystery sore throat bug that has tossed me for a loop. So I park my tail on the couch, fire up the 360, and try out my latest Gamefly rental – The Godfather.
The Godfather is a 3rd person sandbox title, one of what is appearing to be far too many in the genre which offer mediocre game play and count on some pop-culture hooks to keep the player interested. In my opinion, it took over 10 years to make the FPS genre not much to look at. I’ll put some money on the sandbox genre rapidly approaching the same brick wall. This game places you as that ‘other’ guy always in the background, yet critical to the progression of the game plot. All the classic scenes are recreated in Grand Theft Auto III quality 3D graphics.
The plot is weak. Yes, I said it – a game with ties to The Godfather has a weak plot. Subtract the recreated scenes, re-dubbed voices, and 3D stand ins for actors who wanted no part with the game – and the game drops below mediocre. Character control is basic enough, left hat movement and right hat camera. Shooting any weapon is a chore, as you can either rely on the marginally accurate ‘lock on’ functionality by holding down the left trigger, lock on and adjust the aim manually for a head shot by holding down the left trigger then aiming with the hat, or pull the left trigger, left bumper, and aim with the hat for full manual aim. Oh – don’t forget to shoot with the right trigger.
Now controls in a sandbox game are nothing new and they were all but perfected in 2001 when Rockstar kick-started the genre. There’s no excuse for any company – let alone Electronic Arts to try and break into the genre by half-assing the control structure. As for the cars, what the hell were they thinking? Control is arcade ad infinitum. Forget physics beyond the most basic expectations of big hits having big effects and little hits having little effect. Different vehicles have different handling and performance, all predictable for the most part albeit irritatingly lacking in the refinement one would expect of an at the time 5 year old genre.
Tasks in the game are all plot based, with side missions offered for extorting businesses, hijacking deliveries, doing favors and performing hits. Sadly the sandbox is too big, the vehicles are all too slow, and there isn’t much in between to keep the game from not becoming a tedious bore. Sure, I could easily drop a few more hours on the couch as I beat this bug and see where the game goes – or I can just watch the movie and save myself the trouble.
If this is in your bargain bin folks, skip it unless you’re a hardcore sandbox addict. Personally, I’ll stick to the game which has most recently set the bar in Sandbox action – Crackdown.