‘Godfather’ players lie, steal

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In my lifetime, scores of books, movies and video games have honored “The Godfather” movies in the greatest creative tradition – by stealing from them.

It’s fitting, then, that “The Godfather” video game rises up on the shoulders of the “Grand Theft Auto” series, which has had perhaps as much impact on gaming as Francis Ford Coppola’s work did on film.

“The Godfather” video game is essentially “GTA” – Corleone-style. That’s no surprise. The free-ranging style of gameplay is a requirement for any up-and-coming wise guy to be able to impress the family in a variety of ways.

That’s the goal. This game, which is based on but does not mirror the movies, asks you to ascend from stranger to capo to don of the infamous Corleones, who control the Little Italy turf of New York.

To do that, you must earn respect. And in true “GTA” style, that means running or driving around your territory and that of four other mob families in the Big Apple area, ripping off rivals, making contract hits, bribing the police and strong-arming merchants. The goal is to ingratiate yourself, initially, with Don Corleone – and eventually succeed him.

You’ll move to the music of the wonderful and unforgettable “Godfather” soundtrack, which permeates many of the scenes in this well-written epic. There are lots of cinematic clips, which feature the actual voices of “Godfather” actors James Caan (Sonny Corleone) and Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen). Better yet, this game features lines from Marlon Brando, who performed in the game as the Godfather before his death.

Plot enhancements include unlockable goodies like clips from the films, and movies from the game.

Early missions feature training by Corleone enforcer Luca Brasi, who instructs you before he, of course, sleeps with the fishes.

The gameplay here is the usual “GTA” type. You can run or walk around on foot, steal 1940s-era vehicles, flee from the cops and fight like dogs with wise guys on the street. The fighting scheme features a large number of moves: You basically lock on to a target with the L1 button, then punch the daylights out of him with the right thumb stick. You can also grab a foe, slam him into something hard and finish him off with a click of the R2 button.

This game is as violent as the movies, if not as original. I also noticed a glitch or two, especially when you walk up to people and talk to them. Sometimes their lips move but no sound comes out.

Overall, though, “The Godfather The Game” brought back good memories of the classic films. And stealing from “GTA” was the right move here. Let’s call it a clever case of mob vengeance.

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