If The Godfather II had been a mediocre, mindless action flick, the game of the same name could at least be considered faithful to its source material. As it is, though, Coppola’s Mafia-themed masterpiece has been reduced to an uninspired, repetitive open-world action game with out-of-context movie quotes and a handful of recognizable characters sprinkled throughout its forgettable story. To make matters worse, The Godfather II has clearly been released in an unfinished state and is riddled with performance issues and bugs like they’ve been fired from a Tommy gun.
You play as Dominic, an important member of the Corleone family who somehow managed to make it through the epic movie trilogy without ever wandering into camera shot despite apparently being involved in a number of key scenes. As one of Michael Corleone’s most trusted men, you’ve been groomed to head up your own family, and after a brief introductory sequence set in Cuba, the game proper gets under way in a diminutive New York where you’re instructed to set about making a name for yourself. From this point on, much of your time is spent seizing and attempting to retain control of businesses run by rival families in order to make money and, ultimately, force said families to retreat into their compounds where you can eliminate them entirely. Unfortunately, killing rival mafiosi and intimidating business owners gets repetitive quickly and isn’t much fun to begin with.
That’s largely because the gunplay in The Godfather II is neither challenging nor satisfying. You have an impressive arsenal at your disposal, and weapons like the Magnum and the shotgun really feel like they pack a punch, but the enemies you’re using them against rarely seem too interested in self-preservation. Too many of them simply stand their ground or charge at you and, if they somehow manage to get close before you put a couple of bullets in their heads, can easily be grabbed, punched, strangled, or head-butted into the afterlife. With that said, the made men working for rival families are geniuses compared to the clowns you get to recruit into your own family. They have their uses, but even having them do something as simple as walk through a doorway ahead of you or climb into one of the game’s many slow but slippery cars with you can take some work. Predictably, things don’t get any better when they’re put into combat situations or are asked to perform the very specific tasks that they supposedly each specialize in, which include cracking safes, committing arson, and kicking down doors.