The Godfather Blackhand Edition Wii
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Previous Nintendo consoles such as the Nintendo 64 and GameCube were often criticised because they just didn't have enough third party support. The early signs are that the Wii will not suffer the same fate as strong support has been shown by some of the industry's biggest publishers. In fact the biggest game publisher of them all, Electronic Arts, is certainly providing some great games for the console. The Godfather has been a hit on practically every format it has been released for. Picking up on threads from the movie storyline and interweaving some GTA style game-play, The Godfather has impressed us and this Wii edition of the game is just as enjoyable as the previous versions we've played.
In The Godfather Blackhand Edition your character works for the Corleone family and is one of your own creations (you get to use a character creation utility called Mob-Face which allows you to give your gangster that custom look) and there are many elements that have been created for the game. There are quite a few film sequences interwoven into the game sections and for the most part it feels pretty much like a natural synthesis, which is quite an achievement. Of course with the game being on the Wii most will be hoping for a control scheme that takes advantage of the system's unique control scheme and The Godfather Blackhand Edition does not disappoint.
The new control scheme uses both the Wii remote and the nunchuk attachment and it can certainly be classed as a very energetic control scheme. You can lock-on to enemies using the Z button on the nunchuk and both the nunchuk and the remote can thrust forward to hit them in a variety of ways. The amount of attacks and finishing moves you can carry out with the remote and nunchuk combination is actually quite impressive. You can use gestures with the Wii remote to open doors and interact with other objects if you wish. Whilst this is a nice touch it's usually quicker to simply press the button so you'll find yourself doing that most of the time. Firing guns with the remote feels quite natural although the targeting does feel a little too sensitive at times. Would I say the Wii control method is superior to those in other versions of The Godfather? In truth I wouldn't say it's any better. It's different and it's fun but it's certainly not better than a more traditional control scheme.
Almost immediately you can't help but notice how much like the GTA games The Godfather is. This is a good thing of course as there has been no previous game in this style for the Wii (or indeed the GameCube - if memory serves correctly). Whilst there is a main plot thread you are free to do what you want in the game (in the same way that you can in the GTA games). You can roam the streets, steal cars and beat up rival gang members etc. as much as you want to. Of course the 1940's New York setting gives the game a different feel to the GTA games (and to some degree a more interesting setting). You'll get to extort shopkeepers, enter brothels and do all kinds of stuff to raise heat and vendetta gauges. Police can be bribed (sometimes) and gang warfare can breakout if you antagonise a rival family too much.
Of course being able to do as you please is all well and good but does it have any advantages? Well actually it does because you can earn respect points which are used to level-up your character and improve his attributes (such as fighting, shooting, health, speed and street smarts). Levelling-up your character makes later challenges less of a pain so every once in a while it's worth taking a rest from the main plot and spending time developing your character. Once you reach the rank of Enforcer you'll be able to recruit mobsters to fight by your side. The game is quite lengthy and should keep you busy for 20 hours or more.
Graphically the game hasn't really been improved upon from the PlayStation 2 version, which is disappointing as most would have been expecting a game that looked noticeably better. Load times and frame rates, particularly when driving, are improved upon from the PlayStation 2 version but for the most part there are few differences. You'll see the same character models used over and over again for the peripheral characters and quite a few of the locations look a little too similar to each other, although it doesn't appear to be quite as bad as in the PlayStation 2 version. On the whole the game is visually disappointing, although in fairness there weren't many graphical improvements for the Xbox 360 version and the same is also true for the PlayStation 3 version we've also been reviewing.
In regards to its deaf gamer friendliness, The Godfather Blackhand Edition is pretty much the same as previous versions of The Godfather. There's one exception though. Instead of taking you straight into the game (as with the PlayStation 2 version) with the subtitles disabled, here you'll be taken to main menu and subtitled can be enabled before starting the game, which is a much better way of doing things. The Mob Tactics (which are small tutorial videos) and other tutorial messages are shown in text. Cutscenes are subtitled (although there are no character names or portraits placed alongside the text) so you'll be able to follow the game's story and all the essential dialogue is shown in text. Respect and vendetta notifications are all in text. Gauges are shown during extortions (so you can see how they are progressing) and your compass will show you where you need to go at all times. You can press the 2 button to recall your objectives, which is useful. The subtitles in the game aren't colour-coded although this doesn't cause any real problems. Not all speech is subtitled though. Some comments from passers-by in the street and insults you'll receive from your enemies during a battle aren't subtitled but thankfully this doesn't spoil anything.
With new releases being a bit thin on the ground for the Nintendo Wii, it's heart-warming to see games as good as The Godfather Blackhand Edition arriving on the console. Whilst the game doesn't differ much at all from previous versions of the game it does embrace the unique Wii control scheme quite nicely. That said however, it's a shame the game doesn't look better and if you've played a previous version of The Godfather then there's nothing here, aside from the control scheme, that you haven't experienced before. Those looking for an action game to play on their Nintendo Wii will certainly enjoy what's on offer here and to date it's one of the better games on the console.
The Godfather Blackhand Edition is probably the best action game you can buy on the Wii at the moment. The unique control scheme of the Wii has been utilised quite nicely and the game as a whole is as enjoyable as ever.