Review: Godfather Mob Wars (PSP)

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Good: Interesting strategy elements, graphics and sound translate well from console versions

Bad: No open-ended world, no driving, clunky controls, repetitive

Life Expectancy: Three hours.

The Godfather: Mob Wars should not be confused with its console breathren. While it does share a number of similarities in terms of story and basic gameplay, it has also been stripped of the console version's open-ended nature, and in its place, has added a turn-based strategy mode. The strategy elements are interesting, but after a short while, both the linear story missions and the Mob Wars strategy game become repetitive.

Like the console version, Mob Wars is based off of the motion picture gangster epic, and both versions share a lot in common with those movies. Playing as an up-and-coming mobster in the Corleone family, the game takes place alongside the events of the films, and a number of key scenes are recreated here. For the most part, the story is the same as the console versions, right down to the cutscenes themselves. That said, it's still an interesting narrative, and really helps lend a new perspective on the events of the film series.

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Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn't transfer over quite as well. Whereas the console versions featured a GTA-style open-ended world, the structure of Mob Wars is completely mission-based, eliminating the ability to explore the world at your own leisure. Consequently, the ability to steal and drive vehicles has also been removed. It's an understandable omission, given the reformatting of the game, but it also severely limits the variety of gameplay. After a few levels of shooting down waves of mobsters and shaking down shop-owners, most players will grow tired of the story mode.

Things are only made worse by the clunky control scheme, a major problem of the console version. Actions as simple as throwing an enemy literally require four buttons to be pressed simultaneously, and players will often find themselves dead due to the counterintuitive controls during combat.

The Mob Wars strategy game, on the other hand, provides a little more interesting of a play experience. The main goal is to take over the entire New York area, which is divided into several regions. Play progresses on a turn basis, where each of the five families can purchase new mobsters, play cards to hurt other families and help their own, and make moves on territories controlled by other players. During these territory attacks, players take control of their gangster and actually have to fight against hordes of enemy mobsters. All in all, the strategy game is an interesting addition, and helps make up for the lackluster story mode. Unfortunately, much like the story mode, things become fairly repetitive after a few hours.

The game's graphics actually do a nice job of surviving the jump over to a portable system. The cutscenes in particular look really good with fairly detailed character models. In game, the characters animate fluidly, and the various executions you can perform still look awesome. Things are hurt slightly by occasional sparse environments and frame rate drops.

In terms of sound, things also hold up very well. The high-profile voice acting is exceptional, with actors such as Marlon Brando, James Caan, and Robert Duvall recurring their roles from the film. Most of the dialogue is recycled from the console version, but considering how good that voice acting was, it's hard to complain. The music is also nicely orchestrated, although it would be nice if the Godfather Theme was used a little less.

In the end, Godfather: Mob Wars is a so-so port of the console titles. The lack of an open-ended game world and the lousy control scheme are disappointing, but the addition of the strategy based Mob Wars mode is a nice bonus. If you need to kill off a few hours, this might work, but don't expect much more.

Graphics: 7.5

Sound: 8.0

First Play: 6.5

Replay Value: 5.5

Gameplay: 6.5

Overall: 6.6

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