Monday, January 30, 2006

Electronic Arts And It's Godfather

When it appeared 3 years ago, Mafia was trying to fight back the Grang Theft Auto 3 mania through the atmosphere and story specific to the golden age of the mob, superior graphics and a stinky level of difficulty. Later on, Chicago 1930 was imagined as a RTT tackling the same "illegal" theme. Unfortunately, both games kind of screwed up. Now, EA, eager to take advantage of the concept of law-challenged boys, pulled out The Godfather from the archives, convinced Marlon Brando to borrow his image and his voice (or so they say), and threatens to unleash the Italian terror on our monitors. Ladies and gentleman - The Godfather
The Godfather
A mob grows in Brooklyn

EA's Godfather will (fortunately) deviate from the original story, and will focus on the life, attitude and ascension of a punk who has just entered the Corleone clan. Starting from the lowest level, the character will spend the period between 1945 and 1955 in a nice atmosphere of fights, robberies and racketeering, until it will finish going up the hierarchy ladder and will establish his own crime-oriented family. The action will respect, to some extent, the storyline imagined by Mario Puzo and brought to the big screen by Francis Ford Coppola, just enough so that it will allow the main character to do whatever he please in the city, but also take advantage of the cut-scenes, dialogues and other perks from the movie that has already become a legend.

Welcome to La Famiglia

Vincenzo, I'm glad you're here. I've been keeping an eye on you and I think that it's about time you joined the real world. You know (desperate yells outside), I might soon have an opening in our organization for you - (a few gunshots then silence) - in fact, that place has just become available. I trust that you'll do your job well, not like (keeping a moment of silence) our former employee, who just disappeared in a very tragic event. But remember: respect is the most important thing. If you don't know what that is, listen to DJ Bobo, he'll give you a clue. Come on, get out of here, and may the force be with you!
These being said -
The insurance agent

Your first duty as a mobster is to convince the people owning small businesses in the neighborhood to pay up for some so called "protection". For the beginners, this "protection fee" is some sort of universal insurance, which includes life, body integrity, the safety of your property and a lot of other things the good fellas will point out to those who refuse to cooperate. The inventory of things you can use in order to make people see things your way is quite varied, and it contains just about any element from the already very popular Mafia repertoire, starting from more or less obvious threats to quite serious beatings (the kind of beating only experienced mobsters know how to apply). Any rookie mafia man will do things as he sees fit, but look out: The NPCs react differently to each stimulus. A yellow-bellied barber will cough up the dough after just a few serious threats, while a cheeky butcher will great you with his rifle if you just show him your new baseball bat, without talking to him first. If you do your job right, you gain everyone's respect, and this is the most important thing. As you get more respect points and increase your reputation, naturally, you get promoted, and gain access to more options. A mobster known and respected in the community will also be able to corrupt the local policemen. The system is quite the same, from a nice chat to a good beating, with the associated intermediate steps. Some coppers are eagerly waiting for the paycheck offered by The Godfather, Inc, others have the weird idea that they are Kevin Kostner in "The Untouchables" and require a partial or total corrective action. Once you've calmed them down, the coppers will become your best friends, overlooking all your crimes in the area (well, don't push the limit too far, cause your reputation might decrease and you'll have to start over, or the Godfather will "take care" of you, for good). Moreover, if you've disturbed some of the boys from the other crime families and you "just happen" to meet them in a crossfire, the long arm of the law will come to your aid. We have to say that respect is truly related to the mission's success, but the game says that this is only the beginning. The respect points you get also depend on the manner in which you get the job done. There's not much respect involved in killing an enemy from a distance. A bullet between the eyes shot from a close range, a guy being thrown out on the window, disfiguring somebody with a piece of pipe, these are the methods of a serious mobster.
Stairway to - The Godfather, not heaven

If you've secured your starting area and you're getting bored, perhaps it's about time to start making some trouble. Slowly, but surely, you're extending your territory and entering that of the rival families. You start intercepting their shipments of various goods, empty some of their warehouses, all you need is the mood to do it, because the New York rebuilt by EA offers plenty of juicy targets. Quite obviously, any transgression will lead to aggression, and, as you become more famous and hated by others, the enemies will send teams of "psychologists" in order to calm you down with an overdose of lead. As far as we know up until now, it is recommended that expansion should not take the brutal and simple form of a medieval war, because the competition will have the same kind of answer in store for you. The combination of diplomacy, bribes and violence may bring a whole lot more. In any case, if you've chosen a path, you must stick to it till the end. A war against one of the other families must be finished, one way or the other. Otherwise, the AI promises to rebuild its forces, organize a cute little vendetta and create even bigger problems than in the first place. Your worries will be briefly put to rest as the headquarters of the rival family is completely "cleaned out". They disappear off the map, their territories, income and fame are now yours. Then, you start over, because there are three more families competing for a place in the Obituaries column from the New York Times.
When the fist meets the face

I was talking a bit earlier about the methods employed by the Mafia to make somebody see things their way, and I don't think I've said all I had to say on the matter. Well, the gameplay will offer you the sadistic pleasure that lies in any human mind. Each fight's equation will be solved by applying the "fist to the face" or "kick to the groin" theorems, the strangling method or the law of gravity, the patron of all jumpers, volunteer or less. In case math is not your strong point, you can get the help of such items like bats, crowbars, pipes and any other heavy objects. The cherry on this killer cake is the arsenal, and the way in which it can be used. Shotguns, pistols and the famous Tommy-guns, as well as a few Molotov cocktails to heat up the party, that's what you'll be able to use in order to inflict all sorts of nasty things to your opponents. Besides the armory, the producers have also added the concept of "Pressure Point Targeting", which allows you to target a certain specific area from your opponent's anatomy. The counter fans will probably choose the already passe' "headshot", but I hope that The Godfather will have some henchmen with a little more imagination, ready to take down their enemy with a smart shot to the knee, disarming him and leaving him there, screaming, in pain.

If it's Marlon Brando -

- then there are also Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen) and James Caan (Sonny Corleone), as well as 20 other actors, (artificially) impersonating the characters from the movie. Unfortunately, Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), has rejected the very consistent offer from Electronic Arts, being too busy with Scarface: The World Is Yours from Vivendi. However, with such an army of characters from the original movie, EA has stopped at nothing to make the figures in its game as realistic as possible. The gaming environment will get an interactivity shot, and from what we can see, the graphics manages to recreate the New York of the 50's perfectly.

Hidden from curious eyes, Mark Weingartner (the author of The Godfather Returns) plays the part of the consigliere, sorry, consultant to the story, and Bill Conti is trying to put together something that vaguely resembles a soundtrack.

The only thing missing are the players, but there will be plenty of them once the game is launched near the end of March. Until then, the only thing we can do is watch the Godfather movies, because a little bit of Italian accent is good for a wannabe mobster. Capisci?

Thanks to Jack the Ripper

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