Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Godfather II Video Game to be Released in Early 2009

Electronic Arts is looking to pull gamers back in.

Publisher is developing "The Godfather II," a sequel to its 2006 videogame based on the classic Paramount film, for release in February.

Original "Godfather" game saw worldwide sales of more than 4 million unitsThe Godfather Video Game. A total solid enough that EA greenlit a sequel almost immediately after production on the final version of the game was done in late 2006. According to industry tracker NPD, the first game grossed $62 million in the U.S.

Follow-up will follow elements of "The Godfather Part II" film plot that take place in the late 1950s, but not the flashbacks to Vito Corleone's early life that starred Robert De Niro. As in the first game, players control a new member of the Corleone crime family who is rising through the ranks. "The flashbacks that are so great as a film experience don't really work for a game," said Nick Earl, senior VP-general manager for the EA Games label. "We've created our own story that weaves in and out with the film and hits its major touchpoints."

Most of the film's stars except, notably, Al Pacino, are providing likeness rights to EA. In addition, Robert Duvall, whose Tom Hagen plays a prominent role in the game as an adviser to the character, is recording original voiceovers. Director Francis Ford Coppola, who publicly criticized the first game, is again not involved.

Sequel makes "Godfather" the rare Hollywood license to turn into a videogame franchise, along with titles like "Harry Potter," James Bond and "Lord of the Rings." Paramount's long-term deal with EA allows the publisher to continue making more games if the sequel performs better than the original, as is common for successful videogame franchises. "So many movie-based games are just one-offs, so to create a franchise, especially off a property from the 1970s, is pretty phenomenal," said Paramount senior veep of interactive and mobile Sandi Isaacs, who noted that the "Godfather" games benefit from not having to match the release date of a new film.

Studio's homevideo and pay TV groups are already considering plans to re-release "The Godfather: Part II" next winter tied to the game.

"Godfather" is one of several games based on movies from the 1970s and early '80s, including "Jaws" and "Scarface," to come out in the past few years, but it's the only one to get a sequel. Warner Bros. has had a videogame based on "Dirty Harry" in the works for several years.

Like the first "Godfather" game, "Godfather II" will take place in an open world similar to Rockstar's "Grand Theft Auto." However, the follow-up takes place in three different cities: New York, Miami and Havana. Gameplay elements include up-close action as well as a the ability for players to manage their organized crime family from a citywide perspective.

Game will also feature online multiplayer features with battles between mob families.

EA is developing "Godfather II" at its Redwood Shores studio for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, though for other consoles, the game may come out later in 2009.

Thanks to Ben Fritz

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