The Godfather: Mob Wars
Mario Puzo's The Godfather trilogy is a well-known collection of films about the rise and fall of the Corleone crime family. The films headlined top rated actors like Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, and Andy Garcia. The films have been herald as masterpieces--cinematic pieces of beauty. You can learn more about the films by reading DVD Talk's reviews of The Godfather Part I, Part II, and Part III. In this review, we take a look at the PSP game based on the trilogy. Or if you like, you can check out the review of the Xbox 360 game The Godfather.
The game is about an up and coming mobster named Aldo. Nine years prior to the timeline of the game, Aldo's father, a mobster in the Corleone family, delivered his earnings from a hard day's work of illicit activities. Afterwards, he joined Aldo's mother for a romantic evening out. Unfortunately, one of the other crime families had different plans. Aldo's father was killed. Arriving at the scene is the Godfather Don Vito of the Corleone family, who expresses that Aldo will be able to exact his revenge when he grows older.
Nine year pass, and Aldo's mother comes to Don Vito asking for help. Aldo is running with a bad crowd of low level thugs that lack the respect and grace of the crime families. Don Vito sends Luca Brasi to locate and guide Aldo and he conveniently finds him when he is in the midst of being beaten by a few thugs. Brasi, with a steel pipe, comes to Aldo's rescue and teaches him how to fight and navigate through the tough New York streets. And so begins Aldo's adventure and rise to power as one of the most powerful Don's.
The Godfather: Mob Wars is a stripped down version of the recent Xbox 360 release The Godfather. "Mob Wars" comes with smaller missions, less flexibility in game play, lower quality graphics, slightly different game play, and an exclusive strategy mode called mob wars. All in all, it is a fun game and has more strengths than weaknesses.
The goal of the game is to become the next Don of New York. In order to attain the honorific status of New York's greatest crime lord, you'll need to survive story mode and mob wars. While playing, you will need to toggle between the two to beef up your respect as a criminal, arsenal of weapons, and skills with guns, fighting, speed, health, intimidation/negotiation ability, and others.
In story mode, you will find yourself submerged in the middle of a storyline taken directly from The Godfather films. You will join the Corleone family on missions against the other crime families and see regular faces as Don Vito, Sonny, Michael, Tom Hagen, Luca Brasi, Monk, Clemenza, Sollozzo, and Tessio. The missions put you in a free-range stylistic world (like Grand Theft Auto III), except that the world is limited in size.
The mission areas are restrictive and you can't do anything outside your designated area. The mission objectives you are given include looking for fellow gangsters, killing targets, extorting local businesses, conducting interrogations/negotiations, and defending other characters. On that note, you will find the missions are usually very simple. In most cases, you begin on a street and have to enter the building across the way. In the building, you will probably just need to clear out all of the enemy gangsters and/or kill/interrogate a specific target. I found the missions took at most 15 minutes to complete, but usually around 10 minutes. On occasion, I spent more time than that because I kept getting killed.
While playing on the free-range missions, you build up respect points for your deeds. You gain respect from your gangster peers by killing in certain ways, breaking into safes, finding the weak spot in those you interrogate and negotiate with, etc. And as you progress in the game, gaining respect, you acquire skill points and weapon upgrades. Skill points are used to boost your health, skills with fisticuff and guns, speed, intimidation, and other abilities. Weapon upgrades allow your guns to hold more rounds, faster firing rate, and do more damage.
The mob wars mode is much different than story mode. In mob wars, you find yourself controlling gangsters (game pieces) in a card-based board game. Each tile on the board is a racket. The rackets in your control provide you with money. Gangsters are used to protect the rackets from the opposing families. Gangsters can also be used for the offensive to extort local businesses into being fronts for illicit activities or to retaliate against other crime families to take control of their rackets. When you send gangsters to extort or retaliate, Aldo is placed in a free-range mission (like story mode) and given an objective to complete. If successful, you gain control of a new racket. But if you fail, your gangster is demoted in rank.
The goal is to control all of the illegal businesses in New York. In order to do that, you can't just rely on sending your gangsters into uncontrolled territory. The card concept in the game provides you (and the CPU) the ability to do other things, such as bribe the police to lower their presence on missions or raise the heat on other families, put out hits on mobsters, steal money from other families, form and break truces/alliances, and so on. The cards are an interesting aspect to the game play.
Overall, both modes are fun to a certain extent. The problem, as mentioned, with story mode (and free-range missions in mob wars) is the simplistic nature. They do not take a lot of time to complete and there aren't many of them. The good news is that the load time between missions is not more than a minute. The mob wars mode has the same problem. It is simple, limited, and over before you know. The free-range missions you go on to extort and retaliate are "random". But there is a limited pool of random missions. I found the general layout of them to be predictable and it became increasingly easy to complete them.
In the end, The Godfather: Mob Wars is an interesting game and it is fun, but it also has several limitations. The game will offer you approximately twenty hours of play, and when it is over, it is over. I really would have enjoyed a larger mob wars mode with a bigger map, more cards, stronger diversity in gangsters, and micro-management of the rackets. Mob wars alone could be turned into a very exciting strategy/action game. Regardless, The Godfather: Mob Wars is a game action-goers on the PSP should check out.
Visually, The Godfather: Mob Wars is a decent looking game. It utilizes the 3D-rendering capabilities of the PSP pretty well. The 3D character models have a fine level of detail. The bad guys are fairly generic in regards to only a few models are used, but they are decent looking. The environments and settings are on the generic side. You'll find you are looking at the same building interiors/exteriors and the same bad guys over and over again. The problem is ghosting; there is a significant amount of ghosting in the game when you are moving quickly. What is very good are the cut scenes. They offer good representations of the actual actors/actresses from The Godfather movies.
The game's audio features sound effects (gunfire, explosions, etc.) that fit well into the gaming experience. The sound effects are rich and make good use of the PSP's stereo capabilities. The music is a decent, but not a huge part of the experience. What is really strong are the voiceovers during the cut scenes (and some parts of story mode) that include dialogue from the movies and some original content.
I had a lot of fun with The Godfather: Mob Wars. While I thought the game was relatively short and sometimes not complex enough, it was still quite fun to play through. I especially enjoyed the mob wars mode and would have loved to have seen it developed into something bigger with more territories, more cards, stronger diversity in gangsters, micro-management of the rackets, and an online multiplayer mode. Regardless, The Godfather: Mob Wars is a game action-goers on the PSP should check out.