Welcome to The Family

With this disk in your computer's DVD drive, you feel you have returned to 1973, when director Francis Ford Coppola produced the first The Godfather film.

godfather disk new 88 (photo credit: )
godfather disk new 88
(photo credit: )
The Godfather, a DVD-ROM in English by Electronic Arts, distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia with a 20-page Hebrew-language user's manual, requires Windows XP and a 1.4 gigahertz PC or better, for ages 18 and above, NIS 225. Technical rating: **** 1/2 Moral rating: * What better time is there to review the video game based on The Godfather movie trilogy than soon after the arrest of La Cosa Nostra's Sicilian "boss of bosses" Bernardo Provenzano and the deportation of our own alleged drug trafficker Ze'ev Rosenstein to stand trial in the US? With this disk in your computer's DVD drive, you feel you have returned to 1973, when director Francis Ford Coppola produced the first The Godfather film, while old-time New Yorkers who remember the mid-1940s to mid-'50s will feel completely at home in five identifiable neighborhoods where the action takes place. Coppola disapproved of the metamorphosis of the movies to the new game ("They use the characters everyone knows, and they hire those actors to be there, and only to introduce minor characters. And then for the next hour they shoot and kill each other... I had absolutely nothing to do with the game and I disapprove. I think it's a misuse of film," he complained) - but it's here anyway. And not only that, but leading actors in the film including Marlon Brando, James Caan, Robert Duvall and Abe Vigoda lent their voices to the characters, and some two dozen long video clips from the movies are included in the disk's film archives. The Godfather's movie plot is very recognizable in this third-person action game (which also has elements of a role-playing game), but this disk offers even more mobster missions that could take as long as 40 hours to play them all. It also is very reminiscent of the highly popular (and violent) Grand Theft Auto video game (also distributed by Hed Artzi) because of the necessity of stealing vehicles, often knocking out or mercilessly killing the owners and reckless driving through urban streets. Park your morals at the door when you play this violent, villainous and unscrupulous game (although you can optionally mute the bloodshed). The graphics are very good (but not outstanding), so if you saw the movies, you will be able to relive some of the famous scenes, such as the horse head deposited in the bed and the entrapped Sonny getting shot full of holes at the tollbooth. But you don't start as a top mobster: You must start from the bottom and work your way up the rungs as a troublemaker for the Corleone family who dreams of becoming a Don. Gamers can make their character look like themselves or anyone else (except for a woman; the many options in the MobFace section do not include females). This lets you customize your character to have a preferred height and body shape, facial features of your choice (even scars or other disfigurements) and a set of period clothing (including suspenders and eyeglasses). Your hero becomes a member of the Corleone mob family based in Manhattan's Little Italy neighborhood who helps battle against four other crime families - the Tattaglias in Brooklyn, the Cuneos in Hell's Kitchen, the Stracci family in New Jersey and the Brazini family in midtown Manhattan - each of which protects its own turf and fights with the others to dominate the city's organized crime. Your job is to extort protection money from small businesses; control illegal gambling; obtain weapons from dealers; rob banks, take over warehouses, counterfeiting operations and brothels; and try to knock off members of competing mob families. To gain power, you bribe crooked policemen to turn a blind eye to your shenanigans and keep your distance from FBI agents who want to paralyze the mob and halt the turf wars among them. Among the shortcomings are clumsy management of your weapons inventory in the heat of a mob war and having to steal a car and drive long distances (with the help of maps) over bridges and to another borough to a "safe house" to save your game before proceeding. But - if the violence and immorality don't deter you - these are small frailties compared to the excitement, the excellent music (much from the movie but also original scores) and the breathless action. If you like it, welcome to The Family.