Get ready with your Marlon Brando impressions...

The Godfather logo

US Gold * £29.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Godfather, a cinematic epic, is brought to your home computer screen by US Gold and the letters "D" and "L". Only being a mere youngster of 17, I haven't actually seen any of the Godfather movies except a few bits of the first one that was on TV a while ago.
All I can remember were the gory bits like the horse's head-in-the-bed scene and people being blown to pieces. All the rest was boring for me, as it involved Marlon Brando mumbling a lot.

However, what with the Gamer office being a certain Aladdin's cave of all things worth knowing, I can tap in to our wondrous spring of knowledge and fill you in, as they say. The Godfather films, (for there are three) are about the rise to power of the Corleone family through the Mafia between 1901 and 1979 - an epic saga of love, honour, justice and death (Gosh how dramatic - Ed).

Godfather I begins in 1945 at the marriage of Vito's daughter. Vito is Don Corleone, the head of one of New York's ruling Mafia families, and his three sons are also involved in the family "business".
When Don Vito is critically wounded in a brutal assassination attempt following the death of his eldest son, Don Vito's third son Michael Corleone becomes more prominent in preparation for his future role as Don Vito's successor, and the film ends in 1955 with Michael as the new Godfather.

Godfather 2 starts with Michael, the new Done Corleone moving the family business to Nevada. They have expanded into hotels and casinos, and the family live in a huge mansion by Lake Tahoe. But all is not well. Michael's marriage is failing and his disloyal brother Fredo is persuaded to become involved in a plot to assassinate him. Mama Corleone dies at the family home bringing the remaining family members closer together.
The naughty traitor Fredo returns to the home, but he's a bit late. Michael cannot forgive his terrible brother, goes a bit wibble and kills him.

In the third and final part of the saga, which begins in New York in 1979, Michael is striving to legitimise all his business operations, becoming involved in real estate, banking and Wall Street.
He is then honoured by the Catholic church with the order of St Sebastian. Hold on a second. I thought the Godfather was about the Mafia who wander the streets killing pilfering and generally being a bit hard! What went wrong? Oh well, I suppose I'd better carry on.

To complicate the plot slightly, you meet Vincent Mancini, the illegitimate son of Michael's brother Sonny, and urged y his sister Connie. Michael invites Vincent to observe the way the family business is conducted. Michael must determine whether the hot-header Vincent is able to adapt to the legitimate world of business. The dilemma they both share is whether they can succeed in leaving behind the violence of their past.

The big question now is - how do US Gold make a brill computer game out of an epic saga of films that span 80 years? Oh come on, it's easy - you make a five level scrolly shoot-'em-up. A terrific interactive adventure/action game might be a better idea, but then you go. You've got a shoot-'em-up and you're flippin' well going to like it.

The first thing that hits you in the face like a big slimy, seaweed-covered fish is the graphics. Corrrr, well sexy, breathtaking, fantastic and erm, that's it.
The intro is very good indeed and contains spinning newspapers with headlines about the Mafia. You are then treated to a wonderful parallax scrolling view of New York - quite mega.

What about the game? Well the best way I can describe it is, as a Robocop (the first one) clone with utterly brilliant graphics.
You play whichever character happens to be Don Corleone in each time period, and your mission is fairly simple. All you have to do is blow the crap out of anyone who seems dangerous, which is just about everyone. The only people you can't hit are the passers by like the woman pushing a pram and the policemen. If you do, you'll be disowned by the Corleone family and then it's game over.

The game has a sort of 3D view with lamp-posts and other objects very close up to screen, giving it depth. IN theory this sounds excellent, but in practice it doesn't work at all.
For instance you have four people shooting at you, their bullets are merely white speckles, and then suddenly you are hidden from view by a lamp-post and consequently get shot to bits.

You can get energy back from first-aid kits which lie dotted around the screen but they only give you a tiny, tiny, tiny (and I mean tiny) bit. There are other icons too. But I haven't a clue what they are. This is all thanks to the low quality manual. To be honest, the actual instructions it contains could have been written on the back of a stamp.

You wander the streets until you meet up with a rogue with a machine gun. By the time you reach this point you've hardly any energy left and he just tends to blow you away. He soaks up bullets like there's no tomorrow, but when you have shot him enough times he buggers off. To say The Godfather is hard is the biggest understatement of the century. Blimey, when Gamer finally managed to get off level one and reached the supposedly ace Operation Wolf-type sub-game, we found out that your energy level stays the same and thus immediately died. To say we were most miffed is the second biggest understatement of the century.

On the sound front there is a suitable tune at the beginning with adequate sound effects in the game. A nice touch is bodies that stay where they are in a pool of blood instead of disappearing in a puff of smoke, meaning that if you are quite good you can gather a nice collection.

The scrolling is dodgy to say the least, and suffers from jerky syndrome, and as the game comes on six disks, you have to keep swapping them almost constantly - even in the middle of playing!

I suppose that if you're a die hard shoot-'em-up freak then Godfather might interest you, but for me it's below average, apart from the graphics which are some of the best I've seen for a long time. It's one of those games which you see at a friend's house and then laugh at them for buying it.

I was really disappointed because US Gold make some truly cracking games (take Another World for instance). Unfortunately, Godfather is about to take a dive into the swap of crap TV and film licences. I think I'll end this review with a Star Test-type thing.
Smarmy Computer: "Choose some words to describe the Godfather." Me: "Errr, repetitious, jerky, crap and the graphics are really quite smart."

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It's one of the hardest things in the world to do, you know. Turning a great movie into a classic computer game. For starters, you need plenty of atmosphere from the original film, and the Godfather's got plenty of scintillating sound effects and soundtrack-style music. You also need plenty of stunning scnes that capture the magic of the movie-screen, and again, The Godfather uses plenty of clever camera work to show off its gorgeous multi-screen backdrops.

But perhaps the most important thing about all movie tie-ins is that they should remember that they're still a game and, as such, they should be playable and entertaining.

Entertaining it may be, but playable, is not the word to describe it. Sadly, The Godfather is about as playable as its creators' earlier effort, ESWAT, and only marginally better animated. Consequently, the stunning effects are totally wasted, because you spend most of your time cursing the pernickety, yet clumsy action.

Level after level of beautifully drawn backdrops, ranging from New York and Las Vegas street scenes, to barber shops, casinos and bars, scroll gently past your eyes. Laid over the top, about as subtly as a Comic-Relief nose on the Mona Lisa, are the sprites which trundle about the screen like a set of Captain Pugwash characters.

Actually making your Corleone alter-ego aim his gun and walk around is even more difficult than you might first think. Lining yourself up with the multitudes of hit-men that appear is a tedious and frustrating task. If they can fire in more than eight directions, why can't you? S'not fair! You'll be lucky if you even make it off the first level, and there are no less than six disks (full of even more beautiful backdrops and tunes) in the package.

It's a pity that US Gold have failed, yet again, to make something of their high-profile movie licences and produced another barely average shoot-em-up. To make poor quality action games is bad enough - but to ruin perfectly excellent music and graphics while doing so, is unforgivable. Surely the gameplay comes First? Better watch out for the Dons, US Gold - they may want a word with you.

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Ob einer in seinem Leben die Witwen gemacht oder sie nur getröstet hat, spielt für geschäftstüchtige Spielerhersteller keine große Rolle - sie versoften die Geschichte Robin Hoods genauso wie die des Paten, Hauptsache, der Mann hat was Interessantes erlebt...

Und das kann man ja nun wirklich unbesehen glauben, daß der Vorstandsvorsitzende der ehrenwerten Gesellschaft eine Menge Anekdoten erzählen könnte; immerhin haben die Erlebnisse der Familie Corleone ausgereicht, um drei Kinofilme in Überlänge zu füllen. U.S. Gold hat noch einen draufgesetzt und sage und schreibe sechs Disketten "verbraten", um die bewegte Familiensaga stilgerecht in Szene zu setzen - für ein Actiongame wahrhaft rekordverdächtig!

The Godfather ist ein horizontal scrollendes Baller-Drama in fünf Akten: Es beginnt im New York der 40er Jahre, wo man sich von links nach rechts durch ein heruntergekommenes Slumviertel kämpfen muß. Angegriffen wird man dabei von allen Seiten, die Gangsterkonkurrenten schießen von links und rechts, oben und unten, aus vorbeifahrenden Autos und plötzlich geöffneten Fenstern.

Zwischendurch geht es auch mal auf der Feuerleiter nach oben, später darf man einer Bar und dem Friseurladen einen Besuch abstatten, wo es natürlich ebenfalls nicht lange ruhig bleibt. Dieses Spielchen wiederholt sich dann in den folgenden vier Leveln, nur daß die Hintergründe und die herumwuselnden Personen wechseln - Las Vegas, Kuba, Miami und last but not least die "Familienvilla".

Trotz der überaus zahlreichen Gegner hat man bloß ein Leben und eine Pistole; zu allem Überfluß ist der Held von zwei Seiten verwundbar: Kriegt er zuviele blaue Bohnen aub, ist seine Lebensenergie bald futsch, legt er selbst zuviele "falsche" Gegner (Polizisten, junge Mütter) um, schwindet seine Mafiaehre dahin - das Ergebnis lautet in beiden Fällen Game Over. Nun ja, wenigstens liegen Energie & Ehre hier auch als Sammelgut auf der Straße herum.

In punkto Grafik und Sound übertrifft der Patenonkel die meisten Actionspiele bei weitem, zur Einführung gibt es eine filmmäßige Kamerafahrt über die Skyline von New York, aber auch im Spiel selbst werden prachtvolle Hintergründe, erstklaßige Animationen und schönes (nur leicht ruckelndes) Mehrfach-Parallax-Scrolling geboten. Lobeshymnen haben sich auch die atmosphärische Musik und die abwechslungsreichen Effekte verdient.

Tja, und sogar die Joysticksteuerung ginge noch einigermaßen - aber das Gameplay! Zum einen fühlt man sich an allen Ecken und Enden an indizierte "Operationen" erinnert, zum anderen ist The Godfather nicht nur wahnsinnig schwer, sondern auch furchtbar unfair. Die Kollisionsabfrage ist ein schlechter Witz, einerseits kann man vor den feindlichen Schüssen davonlaufen, andererseits wird man oft auf völlig unerklärliche Weise "getroffen".

Schade, daß die Gigantonomie in Sachen Präsentation hier in keinem Verhältnis zur Spielbarkeit steht; so wird sich der Pate bei den Freunden der "Freundin" nicht allzuviele Freunde machen... (mm)

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No, no, no, no, no! Gorgeous graphics do not a good shoot-'em-up make - not on their own anyway. And these ones are particularly lonely...

It's gorgeous, isn't it? One glance at these pages and you could almost be forgiven for thinking this is Delphine's said-to-be spectacular graphics adventure version of the Godfather licence, but no - it's US Gold's action variant, pure and simple.

Still, wow, eh? Load this up and your immediate impression is of one very classy product - the sort of game that people walking past (if you computer happens to be in the sort of place people walk past, that is), stop and stare at. Lovely, slightly blurry looking, but smooth and atmospheric tableaus that would great if they were static, but are truly spectacular because they actually move!

Cars drive up and down the streets, people walk the pavements, flags flutter, and generally the impression of life is very ably created. This would have been a knock-down dead product only last year, and even now - competing as it is with the likes of Another World, Heimdall et al - it's spectacular. If were were giving individual graphic marks - pointless things though they are (we're reviewing games, not graphic demos) - this would be high 80s at least.

Those who understand the structure of AMIGA POWER reviews will realise we're going to come to a very big 'but' at this point, and here it is. The big 'but' is that lovely and sexy though it may look, the gameplay is actually a tedious scrolling shoot-'em-up of sub NARC standards. (Actually, thinking about it, it's perhaps more like Ocean's first RoboCop game, but we'll get to that in due course).

First, though, the structure of the game. You all know - at least by reputation - of the series of movies this is based on. Added together there's at least eight or nine hours screen time, thirty major characters, there (and a half) generations and countless shootings, stabbings and other violent set pieces in the films.

A bit of a daunting task to try and fit into an action game really, which is why US Gold simply don't bother. Oh sure, we get the sense of the passage of time - levels start in the 1940s and move towards the present day - but individual characters, incidents and plot twists really come into it.

You play whichever character happens to be Don Corleone (the Godfather of the clan Corleone) in each time period, on a mission to 'keep the bad guys at bay' (as the box has it). (What this presumably means is kill off the members of all rival gangs, as there's no real way you could be said to be on the side of the angles, but never mind...)

It's painfully slow in every way

Following the intro - a well engineered pan shot taking you through the New York of 1946 which even Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola would approve of - you enter the grandioso world of organised crime. A spinning newspaper device headlining mob massacre tells you whether we're in 1946, 1957, 1961, 1975 or 1981 - it's neat enough, but unfortunately here's where any similarity between the game and the films effectively ends.

This isn't where disappointment sets in, however. First impressions are of a well animated, historically set game in which stylish cars zoom by and illuminated trains rattle along in the distance, while in the foreground there's you, shooting dead every crok you come across as you walk these mean streets - and these mean streets are crawling with hoods.

Avoiding policemen and mothers-with-prams is a good idea - if you shoot too many you'll be disowned by the Corleone family and lose the game, killing policemen obviously not looked upon as a Good Thing. This is very straight point-and-shoot blasting stuff, the odd fire escape to climb or RoboCop-style angled shot at an upstais window being about as exciting as it gets. As in Navy SEALs, the characters you've shot remain lying in the places they've fallen, satisfying for the bloodthirsty, and a definite Neat Touch.

So far, so fair (but pedestrian) an, it has to be said, so ahrd. Not only are there your fast-falling energy and family credibility values to conserve, there're also the the particularly losy instructions to cope with. Where, for instance, does it tell you that many of the cars speeding past in the foreground of the screen contain machine gunners who'll take pot shots at you? Until you realise this, and how to defend yourself against them (crouch down, and you'll fire out of the screen), you'll find your energy level dropping with seemingly reasonless rapidity.

And so it goes. Occasional single screen Operation Wolf-style sub levels - there are two in the first level - break up the action, but haven't we seen these before? Indeed, they're exactly the sort of keeping-the-interest-going trick used in countless Ocean film games, and they've worn a bit thin by now. The graphics may be superb, and the initial sense of atmosphere strong, but there's no way they can in for decent gameplay.

You're in for a bit of a mighty list here, I'm afraid. The lack of imagination shown in the structuring of the game is bad enough, but the execution of the actual gameplay elements chosen is diabolical too. Disk swapping - there are six(!), and each time you lose the game you have to load in the end-of-game sequence - is a real pain too, especially as the game refuses to recognise a second disk drive.

The worst thing, though, is the pace - it's painfully slow in every way, presumably hampered by the detail of the graphics. Dodging bullets is almost an impossibility - realistic, but not good for a game - and shooting old-dears-with-prams (and thus risking family dishonour) is all too often the only way out of a tight fix.

The shoot-'em-up element demands next-to-zero need for hand to eye co-ordination either - 90 percent of the basic game, as it turns out, is an attempt to get your man into a position where his upward angled gun can pick off the marksmen in the windows above. Master that, and you've mastered the game. (Not really much challenge for 30 quid).

And there's more. Though there's plenty of visual variety, the new gameplay elements later levels introduce - chiefly a gunman across the street opposite, who appears as a gun barrel at the bottom of the screen, and effectively reverse the positions of Operation Wolf so the player's firing out of the screen at himself - fail to add enough to keep you interested.

File with either 'interesting failures' or 'more crap film licences', depending on how generous you're feeling at the time.

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Few films have had as much impact as the Godfather trilogy. Based on the bestselling novel by Mario Puzo the series chronicled the life and deeds of the mythical Corleone family and provided an unprecedented look into the Mafia world that few knew, or were prepared to admit, existed in 1940's America.
Upon release, Marlon Brando's depiction of the Mafia boss, Done Corleone, was heralded as one of the greatest performances captured on celluloid and confirmed his position as the most respected actor of his generation.

The game is a five level amalgamation of the three epic films. Rather than taking the obvious route and resting the burdens of the Don on your shoulders you take the part of one of his henchmen. Although there is an intro screen showing AL Pacino this is where the link to the films unfortunately ends. Probably due to copyright and legal reasons that usually accompany bigger licenses the game takes on a turn for the worse and, for all we know, it might as well be the film license for Bugsy Malone.

As game intros go you'll have to venture a long way to find one as detailed as this. Using a number of 'camera' angles, the title sequence sweeps through New York with bits of background info and the odd newspaper cutting being blown up before the screen. When the intro comes to an end, a lone figure is standing under a street lamp and lights a cigarette before striding out into the gloomily-lit street to attend to some very serious 'business'.

The first task involves walking a treacherous path to the first Mafia boss who must be mercilessly gunned down. Gangsters lean out of windows and doorways ready to fill you full of lead and must be killed quickly as before you can shout 'Michael Corleone is the illegitimate son of a thousand fathers' it's off to the cemetery.

Controlling your man's actions is very frustrating and reference to the A4 postage stamp that's been substituted for the manual doesn't help. Huge limousines scroll from both directions obscuring your view and making the sprite invisible at the most inopportune moments and bullets fly through the air with all the grace of a brick. It's best to take on each hazard one at a time as dodging bullets becomes impossible with more than two hoods on your tail at the same time.

Villains' bodies litter the sidewalk in a bloody mess and remain there throughout. Pram pushers and policemen wander aimlessly, oblivious to the gun battles going on all about them, and they don't bat an eye unless you send a bullet into their flesh. If too many innocents are slain, though, the family will disown you and you're libel to become part of the interior paneling of a new wing on a children's ward.

And so it continues with only the year and scenarios changing. From Las Vegas gun fights to a luxurious marina in Miami, the basic shoot 'em up action remains the same. The final showdown in the 1980s has the player defending the most important Mafia bosses from airborne assassins in a 'chopper. Certain icons can be collected during the game that advance your position, but, apart from the Red Cross package that doesn't restore nearly enough energy, you can't work out what they do.

Musically, the game's not bad at all, although the original Godfather theme tune could not be used. The various gun shots and groans definitely add to the blasting, especially in the Operation Wolf-type scenes, and the way the main sprite twists and turns on his toes to shoot over left and right shoulders almost made me reconsider the game's appeal but, sadly, the characters are too nondescript to be convincing.

Unfortunately, Godfather fails to capture the essence or atmosphere of the films and as a standalone game it's not much of a success. Coming on six disks doesn't help and the constant disk swapping during levels is very annoying. Having only a limited life span might be an accurate reflection of the times and your character's lifestyle, but it's not conducive to the gaming experience. Die and it's right back to the beginning.

The Godfather might have made a brilliant arcade adventure game, but as a shoot 'em up it adds little to the genre.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION When plans were first announced to make a film about the infamous Italian/American Mafia the lead role of Don Corleone was one of the most sought after in the business. Director Francis Coppola suggested Marlon Brando for the post but movie bosses had their doubts until they viewed an anonymous screen test by an old man. The man turned out to be Brando, then only in his mid-forties, under heavy make-up. Coppola's own daughter Sofia actually appears in all three films in different roles from the baby Michael in the first to Mary Corleone, an adult woman in the third.

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Preparing to test out The Godfather, Martin Pond, a deft exponent of 'method reviewing', gained 20 kilos in weight, stuffed his mouth with cotton wool, and took to sleeping with a horse's head. Stupid, isn't he?

Those Mafia boys, eh? Drug trafficking, prostitution, brutal slayings, and I'll bet they don't pay their poll tax either. We've all seen the antics of these crazy funsters in the Godfather films, a cinematic opera chronicling the lives of the Corleones, an everyday family of violent mobsters.

And now US Gold have brought out a game based on the film trilogy You get to play a gangster of the Corleone clan, who ambles through five levels of horizontally-scrolling shoot 'em up action, dressed in a snappy suit. Each level set in a different location, so as to loosely follow the plot of the films.

What follows is a whistle-stop tour of the crime hot-spots of the Americas. You start off in the streets of New York in the 1940's before moving on to the casinos of Las Vegas, a Cuban slum, a marina in Miami, and finally a mansion in the small town America of the 1980's.

Ruthless hoods of Italian descent turn up all over the place - popping out of windows, walking around and driving past in big cars. Luckily, you can shuffle in and out of the screen as well as being able to amble along, and you can shoot in loads of different directions. Just like a real gangster!

A second section to each level has you controlling the cross-hairs of a machine gun, and laying waste to various interior locations à la Operation Wolf.

Amiga reviewMartin Despite the fact that they're always very well turned out and good to their mothers, the mob have never had a very good press (especially what with all that business about sending people for a swim with concrete buoyancy aids).

The Godfather game does nothing to rectify this poor public image. Though the films formed an epic saga of love, honour, revenge and mass killing, it's a bit monotonous after a while - walk a bit, shoot, walk, some more, shoot, et, etc. It does have some nice touches though. If your character is idle for a while, he lights up a fag - he's not a very good role model at all, really, what with all that murdering people as well.

It's really smart having the odd innocent bystander on the scene, even if they do wander around completely oblivious to all the carnage, because (for the first time you play at least) you don't know who's who. Is that young mother with her baby really what she seems, or an evil Mafia hit woman pushing a pram-bomb? And how about that silverhaired old lady? Shoot them all anyway, that was my cunning tactic. However, if you grease too many young mums, you're disowned by the family (the mob hate all that kind of unpleasantness - it's bad PR).

Anyway, if you are disowned then it's game over, I'm afraid, and an end sequence shows you as a sad old loser hanging out near the sea reflecting on your past glories (just like Cheggers or Dr David Owen).

Even though the action is quite sedate, the graphics are marvellous. Too good in some parts - some of the deaths were really yucky. And, unlike other shoot 'em ups where the opposition disappear after you've zapped them, corpses in The Godfather soon start to pile up in all sorts of unsightly poses - very, very messy. It was all a bit much after a while, so I had to go and have a lie down and a game of Rainbow Islands.

If you're a huge fan of these sort of killing sprees then you'll definitely salivate over The Godfather. But if you have no psychopathic tendencies, it'll probably just give you nightmares.