Sunday, March 25, 2007

360 review: The Godfather (4/10)

Now that I have my 360 back (well, a 360, but you know what I mean), I can get back to achieving. Until my copy of Guitar Hero II arrives on Tuesday, I've been working at The Godfather.

That's right: not playing, working at.

Basically, it's a Mob-era GTA. You work your way up in the family, helping yours and hurting the other families, until eventually you're the don. Obviously, with the licensing, you're in the Corleone family, and the story line follows the movie (I think just the first one). You'll get to see various scenes from the movie reenacted within the game, and you can also unlock clips from the actual movie.

The game itself isn't bad, with the usual amount of collectibles. The real problem is, well, everything that isn't actually game play. Describing the interface and menu navigation as awful would be doing an injustice to the word awful.

TG uses the same concept as some other games, only allowing you to save at certain places in the game. If you "die" during a mission, you can simply restart from the last checkpoint. If you die at any other time, you're whisked away to the nearest hospital. That's not unusual either. However, when you die, you can't simply choose to load a saved game.

If you want to load a game, here's what you have to do:

  1. Quit your current game.
  2. From the main menu, press start and choose your device.
  3. Wait for your profile to "load", and select "Load Game".
  4. Wait for your profile to "load", and select the game to load.
  5. Wait for your profile to "load", and select "Join the Family".

Evidently, the morons who are directing the Madden and NCAA programmers had a hand in this as well. This could possibly be less convenient (like when the game loads, and you have to sit through the entire spoken intro every time), but not by much.

Did I mention that the four save slots are laid out in a 2x2 box on the screen, with a thin white line around the non-selected ones and a thin red line around the selected ones? Did I mention there's no save date on any of them? (They do have elapsed game time, though.) Did I mention EA sucks?

The map is fairly nice, except that you can't zoom in closely enough to identify which streets exist in the game and which don't. (Yes, they only let you explore certain areas of New York in the game, but put more of the city on the map. Why? Because it's stupid.) There's no pathfinding feature either, so if you're heading for unfamiliar territory, expect to pause a lot and check out the map, which you access through a handy hot key. Oh, that's right, it doesn't have a hot key.

Even some of the controls are awkward. For example, to look behind you in a car, hold down the right stick. Nice, except that you back up with X. Try that with one hand. Of course, you don't have to back up with X, you can also back up with the left trigger, but the mission that teaches you how to drive a car doesn't tell you that.

You automatically level up, but you get one skill point to distribute as you like: you can put it toward fighting, shooting, health, or whatever. Not a bad idea. You also get promoted within the family once you reach certain levels.

This is supposedly a free-play game, with the main quest there when you want it, but side quests and free roaming if you'd prefer that, but like Fable, if you ignore a main quest, the phone will ring and ring. Hobson's Quest, anyone?

There are plenty of side quests in a variety of places that require a variety of skills, which would definitely be a nice touch if it weren't for the inexplicable inability to load a new game easily. If you're like me, you'll find yourself trying the same side quest over and over and over again, until you can't take it any more and quit back to the dashboard. And this is supposed to be taking time away from my rendition of Symphony of Destruction?

If you're a big Godfather fan, or if you have a lot of patience, I suppose it's worth renting. If not, it's definitely an offer you can refuse.

Update: One point deducted for yet another stupid save-game "feature". If you hire someone, normally he stays with you until he dies. Well, if you save your game, he disappears. $1000 out the window. You have to "load" my profile every time I save and you can't remember that I hired someone? Oh, right, this is the new EA.

Update: One more point deducted for failing to provide either 50 achievements or, more importantly 1000 gamerscore. EA's already dipping into your pocket for the level 4 weapons, which you really don't need anyway because the level 3 weapons are so good. This sure looks like they intend to release an addition at some point with the other 165 gamerscore.

zlionsfan's rating: 3 feeble GTA knockoffs out of 10.

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