Right from the opening titles, where Nino Rota's unforgettable theme song plays over an authentic black and white title sequence, it's obvious that Electronic Arts has put a lot of effort into making the game worthy of the film's iconic status.
The most rewarding example of this is the use of the original film's actors to voice the characters. Marlon Brando's final performance as Don Vito Corleone, the godfather himself, is every bit as convincing as he was back in the 1972 original. The two other returning actors, James Caan and Robert Duvall, step back into the shoes of their characters with ease, bringing cinematic-quality acting to the roles of Sonny Corleone and Tom Hagan.
Since you play as a character not originally in the feature films, EA has had to be creative with how you are introduced to these and the other members of the Corleone family. Your story starts with a childhood flashback to the day of your father's murder and a chance meeting with the Don, who tells you that "one day you will have your revenge", an event that will become the driving impetus behind your character's gangland progression.
The game then flashes forward to the wedding of Don Corleone's daughter, which will be instantly recognisable to film fans, as EA has done a surprisingly good job at recreating it within the game's virtual world. The character models, in particular, closely resemble the original actors, right down to complete facial animations, lip synch and authentic gestures.
Dropping into the gameplay will be a familiar sensation for most players. Offering an open-ended mission structure against a sprawling New York City, The Godfather has much in common with Grand Theft Auto and its countless clones. In fact, you could say it has too much in common, mimicking Rockstar's game in almost every respect, right down to the design of the display. Of course, this is not a bad thing provided it's done properly, and in this respect, The Godfather gets more things right than wrong.
The cityscape is impressively realised, and imbued with nostalgic sepia tones and graphical flourishes, like old newspapers, which blow in the wind throughout the city streets.
The main problem with The Godfather's open-ended style of gameplay is that while the sandbox is definitely there, it doesn't have quite as many toys to play with as many other games that follow the same formula. Where some have a myriad of pointless-but-fun distractions, The Godfather has only a handful of mini-games to distract you from the storyline.
That said, this doesn't stop the game from being fun, and although The Godfather may not shape up to the benchmark in this genre, there's plenty here to keep both film fans and gamers off the streets for a while.
Click here to view a screenshot.
Verdict: If you're a film buff and open-minded enough to enjoy The Godfather as a game, there's a lot to like. And while it's an offer you can refuse, it's still better than waking up to a horse's head.
Score: 4 out of 5