Grand Theft Auto with goombahs

Pub date June 20, 2006
SectionArts & CultureSectionTrash

(Electronic Arts; PS2, Xbox, Windows XP)
GAMER This game is not bad. It’s no God of War, but really, nothing is or ever will be. Godfather is Grand Theft Auto with bits from the beloved Coppola movie used as story line guidance and inspiration.
You play a character who lives on the periphery of the Corleone family, making his way up the Ragu-stained mafioso ladder. Fully immersed in the ravioli-gorged dimension that is Little Italy in 1947, you track down Luca Brasi’s assassin, go to movie producer Woltz’s house and sneak around with the severed horse’s head, protect the Don at the hospital, etc. These things don’t happen on-screen in the movie, but do happen in some way in this universe. Some things are just thrown in, like your character’s love interest.
Your character is the coolest part of the game. You can choose how he looks: his hair, facial hair, eyebrows, eyes, lips, body type, height — everything. There are, like, 25 faces to choose from and the facial hair–hair combos add up to an almost endless array of possible greasy Italians. There is actually a “grease” setting you can toggle to make your goombah more, or less, greasy. Up to you. At first I tried to make my guy look as much like Sonny Corleone as I could, since he was always my favorite character in the movie (yelling all the time, hitting women, etc.), but he came out looking more like Michael from Mean Streets. (“Do I look like a jerk-off to you?” That guy. He shoots Robert De Niro at the end.) I had to start over and I came up with a guy who looks more Latino knife-thrower than Sicilian. I named him Rico Brogna. Now I really like my guy.
The only problem is that playing the game itself is kind of boring, at least at the early stage. There are a lot of shoot-outs (fine), but your character dies after getting hit, like, twice (enemies have a tendency to materialize out of nowhere with fucking bazookas and just blow you away), and there is much repetition. I don’t need a game to be easy, but Jesus, I go nuts when it seems like the AI is geared to making me miserable on purpose.
But I am having fun playing it — I am approaching the halfway mark — and would recommend it to fans of both GTA and The Godfather. It’s got the same massive scope of GTA, city-wise, and the creators really chose the right characters from the movie to have big roles: You deal with Luca Brasi, Sonny Corleone, Clemenza, and Tom Hagen — all the coolest characters. It’s fun. I didn’t realize I’d been waiting all my life to interact with a video image of Abe Vigoda, but apparently I was. When he came on the screen and told me to go whack Spaghetti Righetti, or whomever, I got really excited and yelled out, “Whatever you say, Tessio!” (Mike McGuirk)