“The Godfather” mediums comparison
Originally a book, “The Godfather” is most known and also revered for the films from the 1970’s, specifically the first two, directed by Coppola, who I am also a huge fan of, mostly for his 1979 “Apocalypse Now“.
In the mid-to-late 00’s, Electronic Arts decided it was high-time to make a game out of this masterpiece and as the first game sold exceptionally well, receiving praise overall by critics, a sequel was produced that however didn’t fare too good. As such and such is, it’s time for a shallow comparison. Keep in mind, some knowledge of the movies or at least the characters is advisable to understand the whole article thoroughly.
The Godfather (1972) & The Godfather (2006)
This game follows the plot of the movie quite avidly and I was actually quite surprised to see how well the holes, so to speak, were filled by the game. In the movie there are multiple points where certain events are never shown but the aftermath’s are played out on-screen. So for example, when in the film the mobsters decide to take out the police chief and The Turk, they discuss how they can get a weapon to Michael, who would commit the deed. Michael’s older brother demands Clemenza to get someone very good to hide the weapon and in the game, you are tasked with getting the gun into the bathroom of the restaurant. There’s actually a bunch of these instances. Some exchanged certain minor characters in favor of the player character, so for example in the game you, instead of the baker, will guarding the hospital with Michael.
This is one of those few games that you will get a lot more out of if you’ve seen the movie before-hand. However, you can create some discrepancies when it comes to the plot. For example, I had a situation where you were supposed to go off some enemy family thugs from their bar but I had already taken that bar over so it actually belonged to the Corleone family but the game addressed it still as an enemy bar. Later on I had to clean out a warehouse of enemies but I again had already done that prior on my own. By the end of the game, you’re named the Don of the Corleone family and if you’re really busy, the Don of NYC which is the only part that heavily differentiated from the source material, because as we all know Michael became and stayed the Don of the Corleone’s all the way through.
The Godfather: Part II (1974) & The Godfather II (2009)
This time around the game takes A LOT more privileges and diverges heavily from the film. Major plot points are moved around or changed completely but there are still some certain parts that are covered in the game that would mirror the background events from the movie… sort of. I’m talking about of course the part where Franks brother is brought to America but in the game he gets kidnapped and you have to rescue him before the trial starts. Nothing like that ever happened in the movie or at least there wasn’t anything pertaining to that. All the viewer knew was that Franks brother was brought from Sicily to the trial. But basically, while all the major plot events are there, they are meant to serve the actual game more as opposed to the game being bent in order to stay true to the movie’s plot and while it received a lot of critique for that. In my reasoning, if the developers found it to be necessary to tell the story in their own way in order to make the game overall more enjoyable, then by all means, let them butcher away, so to speak… in a good way. Apart from that, Hyman Roth also played a much more important role, with even influencing the player character quite a bit early on in the game through a couple of story missions.
So while the narrative is twisted and moved around, the overall premise stays the same and the story runs smoothly and is understandable. The key feature is that it is experienced from a completely new perspective as compared to watching the film and that I found to be most interesting. The hardcore Godfather fans will call it blasphemous but for the open-minded of you out there, it is what it is and on its own, it’s not half bad.
The Godfather (2006) vs The Godfather II (2009)
Now the first game itself isn’t bad but there’s not a whole lot special to it. In reality, the story missions make up quite a minuscule part of the game. As the completionist that I sometimes am, I actually spent the majority of my time trying to take over every single racket, which for the most part is completely optional to do. The game however tries to justify conquering the businesses as you’ll get more money but I actually plowed through the entirety of the game with my entry level weapons and while maybe it took me a bit longer than with more upgraded weapons, the grinding to get the heavy hitters for the endgame wasn’t justified.
While I did enjoy the story for the most part, what it all boiled down to was a series of collection errands that give monetary rewards which you then use mainly for buying safe houses and gun upgrades which again, are not nearly as necessary. But in order to get all that extra stuff in the first place you pretty much need to take over every single business and racket, which if done before the story missions are through you literally have no endgame to speak of. So unless you got a mental deficiency like me, you’d be much better off just playing the main story missions and be done with it then and there as it’s just a repetitive grind after that.
To be honest, I’m one of the very few people who actually found the sequel to be better than the predecessor. There’s a promotion system in the game, like in the first one but compared to the completely useless one in the original, where getting promoted in the Corleone family was solely tied to the story missions and you’d get them regardless of your play skill. This time around, you’re the Don from the get-go but you get to recruit members to your own mob family, that you then get to promote yourself which gives them new abilities, thus giving the system some pragmatical use. However, the pointless promoting system for the player character is retained in the form of getting to recruit a higher number of personal thugs as you progress with the story missions. So while it’s somewhat of a same system, at least this time it actually carries some weight. This is especially necessary when you consider how badly the game is balanced. In the first hours of play, you’ll desperately try to hold on to the rackets you own while barely having the manpower to take over the other families businesses. Theoretically it should get more harder once you have a lot of real estate, so to speak. In actually the money that’ll be flowing in from all those shops and warehouses is enough to rent an army of muscle, who’ll almost always be able to fend off the attackers. So basically the belief that the rich get richer is demonstrated here quite nicely.
Both games felt roughly of the same size and scope, though the sequel is usually considered to be smaller but this is misleading as the original title just had small sets of corridor connected in-between long linear corridors which creates the illusion of a large area. Both also suffer from unbalanced game progression, with the first one suffering from a lack of a real endgame and the second one just breaking if you finish objectives in an order that was unintended by the developers. The first one however did a great job from a narrative stand-point, while the second one had decently customizable characters. Still, they are equally enjoyable both as compliments to the films they are based on (if you’re not an extremist of course) and as standalone titles to pass an otherwise uneventful weekend, for example.