Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Godfather: Blackhand Edition review

You may remember me mentioning The Godfather: Blackhand Edition in my recent post regarding Wii ports. Thankfully, The Godfather is of the rare "good" variety of Wii ports. And this review will tell you why that is so.

One of the most legendary of movie franchises is the classic Godfather series. The first of the trilogy has received many honors throughout the years, and is called the greatest movie ever made by IMDb and Entertainment Weekly. It also won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando) and Best Writing. The list of awards goes on and on, but, in short, it was a magnificent movie. And it is that movie on which The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is based.

As usual, I'll be starting with the graphics, which haven't changed at all since the original XBox release. I suppose it's to be expected, though, considering the Wii is just about as strong as an XBox. With that taken into account, the graphics are fairly impressive, especially during the in-game graphics cutscenes. When Vito Corleone talks to the young protagonist in the opening moments, it's hard to believe that it's a video game. Vito looks exactly like Marlon Brando, and you'd swear that the young boy is real. Without a doubt, the people are the best looking part of this game.

But that's not to say the rest of the game is ugly, no no no! The cars are rendered well, as are most of the buildings. I say "most of", because as I watched my brother-in-law play today, his character leaned up against a wall. An incredibly blurry wall. This building looked like a glass box filled with smoke when up close. It wasn't until he walked away from the wall that it become apparent what the heck was going on.

Another somewhat lacking graphical aspect are the shadows. No matter where you stand, and no matter what time of day it is, your shadow is always directly below you. However, the lighting effects are quite nice, and you can see the emergency lights of police cars casting themselves onto the walls and surrounding vehicles very clearly.

There are some minor framerate issues when things get really hectic, but usually it keeps chugging at a good pace.

This next section of the review is the proving ground of Wii ports: Controls. Thankfully, Electronic Arts decided not to shoehorn in motion controls where they weren't welcome, so there's no tilting to steer you car or anything like that, just the analog stick. All hand-to-hand combat is motion controlled, but very simply so. It's basically a somewhat more forgiving Wii Sports Boxing control scheme. Jab the Wiimote for a right, jab the nunchaku for a left. Swing either control sideways for an across-the-body punch, etc.

Also benefiting from motion controls are the execution moves. Execution moves are also known as Blackhand moves, thus the name of the game. In certain situations when your opponent is weak, an on-screen prompt will appear telling you to press A. then a pair of cartoon hands holding a Wiimote and nunchaku will appear in the bottom-right hand side of the screen, simulating the motion you must perform to execute the Blackhand move. However, once this is done, your character acts out the move without any possible user input. Basically, the player performs the motion, then their character executes the mobster. This is still better than how it was in the PS2 version, though. In that game, you just press a button, and the execution is done. Pretty lame comparatively, but I still wished for a bit more control during these situations.

A no-brainer for motion control is gun aiming. Simply point and shoot while in free-aim mode, and there you go. However, when you target an opponent, things get kinda technical. While targeting, you can freely move the cursor to anywhere on the enemy's body to shoot at particular places. Shooting a weapon-wielding mobster in the shoulder will cause him to drop his weapon, shooting him in the knee will cause him to fall to the ground, and shooting him in the head will do much greater damage than anywhere else, usually resulting in a one-hit kill. And all it takes is a simple shake of the nunchaku to reload. All in all, The Godfather features some of the most brilliant controls seen yet on the Wii.

The audio is another high point in this game. Except for Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, every single member of the original cast has lent their talent to Blackhand Edition. Every line has been re-recorded from the original movie, giving a brilliantly crisp sound. Even the nobodies on the street have spoken words. The only problem is, sometimes you can overhear another person while you're having your own conversation, and it can be kinda hard to concentrate on who you're talking to. Well, I guess that's what captions are for.

Of course, the music isn't something to neglect, even with such a star-studded cast. Every track in this game has a distinct "mobster" feel to it, and no matter whether you're being chased by cops, infiltrating an enemy compound, or just simply going for a drive, there's always appropriate music to go along with whatever you're doing.

The sound effects do their job, I suppose. Guns sound like guns, cars sound like cars. Nothing spectacular, but nothing bad, either.

What's this game's longevity? This game will last any gamer quite some time. It took me over 30 hours to beat it my first time through, and about 15 hours my second time. Even after all has been said and done, you still must take over every business in the city, buy every gun upgrade, whack every target, and earn all execution styles.

What's missing? I feel that something sorely missing in this game is a co-op mode. Throughout the game you can hire men to follow you into battle and such, so it wouldn't have been much of a stretch. It could have been in split-screen, and while in co-op you and your partner would divide up your weapons, so there wouldn't be any unfair advantage. For example, one player could take the Tommy Gun and the Pistol, and the other could take the Magnum and the Shotgun. If one dies, the remaining player can pick up the dropped weapons and ammo. Yeah, this is a little ambitious, but it would've been sweet!


Graphics: 8.0/10

People are rendered very well, as are the weapons and vehicles. However, most everything else is somewhat poor, sometimes resembling an early Gamecube title at worst.

Controls: 9.5/10

Some executions never cease to be fun, no matter how many times you do them, thanks to the amazing Blackhand moves. Shooting with the Wiimote also works very well, with pixel-perfect aiming, and an aptly-sized bounding box. If only it were possible to interact more during the scripted events, this would be near perfect.

Audio: 8.5/10

The all-star cast was well worth Electronic Arts' money. The real characters make this game even more legendary. Also, there always seems to be the right music for the right situation, whether it be as minor as a routine hit, or even the legendary horse's head scene. But, the sound effects are nothing to scream about.

Longevity: 10/10

This game will last you for days on end. Even if you were to just do each main mission back to back, and never lose, this would still last you at least 10 hours. But why do that? There's so much more to do in here than what was in the movie, and the game benefits greatly from this aspect.

OVERALL: 8.25/10

The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is the perfect example of how to do a Wii port right. Amazing controls and on-par graphics, something that hasn't been matched yet in a port. The sound and graphics match the franchise perfectly, giving a truly authentic Godfather experience. This game is not to be missed by anyone (Well, unless M is too high a rating for you. In that case, look elsewhere.). If I could add just one thing to this game, it'd be multiplayer. That really hurt this game's score. Perhaps we'll see one in the sequel, hmm, EA?

The Duck Has Spoken.

1 comment:

Okami said...

Nice review dude ;) I own the game and I really like it's a very well made port of the original. The control work great, locking-on and shooting specific parts is fantastic. And the Blackhand executions are really nice :P
Although I think you overscored in the graphics dept. character models are well done, especially their clothes but the rest isn't anything special.
Anyway I enjoyed your review and your blog in general, got here by Gonintendo, not a member there, but sometimes I'm bored and read through some comments and found the link :P
Keep it up dude ;)