Fans of Francis Ford Coppola's mobster film opus may find it hard to understand this new game from Electronic Arts. Although you'll hear names like Fredo and Michael Corleone, Hyman Roth and Tom Hagen, and see the occasional scene from the film with your own character inserted, the makers of "The Godfather II" pick and choose which story elements to incorporate and which to outright change.
Instead of playing through the film's story line as one of the original characters you may remember from Coppola's 1974 masterpiece, you take on the role of Dominic, an up-and-coming crime boss who is given his own family to rule the criminal underworld.
The story sticks Dominic in the background of some of the film's more famous scenes and makes them players in some of the film's more important moments. Players also travel to such prominent locations from "The Godfather: Part II" as New York, Miami and Havana, Cuba.
There's none of the Robert DeNiro/Vito Corleone story here as the game focuses on the events surrounding Michael Corleone. But the way the game's story is laid out, it's hard to imagine that incorporating that story line would have been possible.
With action, "Grand Theft Auto-style" sandbox game play and some strategy mixed in, "The Godfather II" manages to remain fun from beginning to end, despite straying from the tale whose title it uses.
Players will enjoy the mayhem they can cause in beautifully rendered environments and can enjoy the destruction and cutthroat business tactics of la cosa nostra without fear of getting whacked.
As you progress through the game, players are charged with taking various criminal enterprises, like gambling joints and brothels, from competing families while playing through missions that propel the main story line forward. By knocking off enemy guards with the aid of your own soldiers, you'll take down your rivals.
Players can choose family members with one of five specialties: arson, demolitions, bruiser, engineer and safecracker. All five will help you in different situations, from cracking open a bank vault, to blowing up enemy businesses. As the game progresses, you'll also be able to promote soldiers to "capo" and arm them with a second specialty.
Send your soldiers to guard your businesses or expand your criminal empire or add them to your personal crew and keep them close. Upgrading family members as well as your own character allows you to build a crew that plays like you do. Whether you prefer to go in, guns blazing, or sneak around and surprise your enemies, "The Godfather II" will appease.
Although "The Godfather II" may face criticism from gamers for being a little too easy and from film purists who thought they would walk in the shoes of Michael Corleone or another of the film's famous characters, the game delivers a fast-paced, strategic fun house for all who enter.
There's little to complain about when tearing through the streets of Miami in a vintage Corvette or shaking down a store owner for control of his racket. It may just be business, but boy is it fun, too.