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The godfather game makes players pay for their actions

March 16, 2005

The video gaming world is gearing up for the launch of Sony’s PSP and the up-coming arrival of the next generation of consoles. Also, on the horizon, are some interesting new titles for the current generation of consoles.

As has often been the case, many of the best game titles emerge at the end of the lifecycle of consoles, as developers finally get to grips with the machine and understand how to squeeze the maximum out of it.

One such title will be EA’s The Godfather launched this Fall. It’s an example of classic EA business strategy in action, buy up a recognizable franchise and market the hell out of it.

However, this game seems to being eclipsing most others in scale and scope. From its close collaboration with Paramount Studios, team meetings with the movie’s director Francis-Ford-Coppola, use of the original Nino Rota score, the voices of Godfather movie actors, including Marlon Brando and as expected, the creation of detailed interactive environments.

The game allows players to create their own “mob” and to rise up the ladder of organized crime; the pinnacle being “the Godfather of all Godfathers”.

It’s not a simple shoot-em-up action game; it seems to have some strategy involved. Clearly, much of the game play style has been driven by GTA, but EA is claiming they are trying to push the envelope by introducing the idea of “memory.” In most games, player’s actions are not remembered – if a player breaks a window and walks around the block, the window is magically fixed. EA is changing this with The Godfather by creating an AI engine that understands, in true “mafia” style, that actions have their consequences.

It’s through this process that EA believes The Godfather can become a richer, more real, more emotional experience. Although not as impressive and escapist as a movie, EA is proving yet again that games have the potential to combine interactivity with real emotion and feelings of authentic real-world experience.

Many games have made similar promises in the past – but have then failed to live up to the hype. These attempts have cleverly disguised their problems in complicated, tree-based plotlines, but the holes eventually show through and ruin the experience. How different The Godfather really is remains to be seen.

Despite the immense technical challenges, perhaps EA’s biggest is marketing the 30 year-old movie franchise to a core audience of gamers who were not even born at the time of the movie’s release.

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