For all the grief the big publishers get for mindlessly porting games from one console to the next, we’ve got to hand it to Electronic Arts on this one. The Godfather The Game for Xbox 360 improves in nearly every way upon its current-gen counterparts, and it’s easy to see why the next-gen version was so late to the Don’s party.
The core gameplay content of The Godfather The Game on Xbox 360 is nearly identical, as is the premise, so for a grand overview of the open-world aspects, we’ll simply refer you to our review of the Xbox version. Instead, we’ll use this space to focus on what’s changed: darn near everything else.
Upon powering-up the Xbox 360, it’s obvious the team at EA spruced-up the graphics in a big way. Well, mostly. The faces of the Family are out of this world, almost as if EA laser-mapped the actors’ actual mugs, and the primary/plot enemies have also gotten a next-gen makeover. Ironically, the game’s main character shows less of an upgrade, but he serves as a suitable intermediary between the Corleones and the rest of mid-century New York, whose NPC residents have decidedly blocky faces when compared to the non-story characters. Looking down the road, however, indicates just how much graphical horsepower the Xbox 360 has than the current-gen systems: the draw distances are remarkably improved.
If you look down that road while driving, two additional improvements become immediately clear: the driving mechanics and the drivers’ AI. On the mechanics side, the cars spread throughout New York each handle more distinctly, they each grip the road better and have more-responsive controls, and your choice of car (sports vs. sedan) can often mean the difference between being captured/killed and making it back to a safe house. This plays perfectly into the improved AI. In the Xbox 360 version of The Godfather The Game, the intelligence of opposing drivers is absolutely brutal, as they’ll actively try to either run you off the road or search for alternate routes to “cut you off at the pass.” In addition, if the opposing driver just so happens to be a cop, be prepared to hear the business end of his shotgun. Yes, his shotgun. Apparently the cops in the next-generation Godfather’s world mean business.
Speaking of business, extorting the establishments in The Godfather’s persistent New York has also gotten beefier, most notably via refined Blackhand controls. As you’ll recall from our review of the current-gen version, the Blackhand gameplay mechanic is sheer brilliance, as it teaches consequences (so to speak) for pushing non-playable characters over the edge during “negotiations.” The improvements are slight, but effective: now even holding a store owner by the collar can earn gradual respect.
When the extortion racket heats up or you push the Blackhand too far, it’s time to whip out the gun. And that, dear gamer, is where The Godfather received the most welcome addition for its next-gen outing. In the current-gen version the free-aim mode was at times awkward and forced, but on Xbox 360, free aim is now almost perfect for traditional first-person shooter fans, as the tightness and targeting are much improved and manageable. The added accuracy is also nice, because every gameplay stat can be uploaded to online leaderboards, and you’ll want to show off your accuracy and methods of murder. Er, negotiation.
With all these improvements, any evaluation of The Godfather The Game on Xbox 360 comes down to a simple question: is the game worth the extra $10 for a next-gen SKU? And as with everything, it depends. The Xbox 360 version has a boatload of new side missions (boxing, for instance), much-improved graphics and refined controls for its driving and gunplay sequences. It also has new “training” videos before players enter a new type of encounter (extortion, rackets, heists, etc.), which get tiresome if you’ve played a previous version but are useful for those who haven’t.
And that’s really what it boils down to: whether you’ve played a previous version. If you own an Xbox 360 and haven’t played The Godfather The Game, this is definitely the version to buy. However, if you played a previous version and are just curious about the upgrades, you’re probably better off remembering the experience from your earlier outing. The improvements on Xbox 360 are both noticeable and welcome, but probably not worth the $60 if you’ve previously shown your allegiance to the Family.
- Overall: 8.3
- The across-the-board improvements on Xbox 360 pick up where the current-gen gameplay left off, but they probably don’t justify the added cost for people who have already played a current-gen version.
— Jonas Allen