The Godfather Blackhand Edition is based upon the events from The Godfather movie. It holds true to its roots, even though you play as Aldo; a new character to the story. The game provides a good base explanation of how the movies pan out, but it does not cover every detail. As a result it's probably wise to familiarize yourself with the films beforehand.
The main objective of the game is progress through the story, rise in rank, and help the Corleone family in their efforts to dominate New York. This is achieved through a series of missions set by many familiar faces. The sheer number of missions is enough to keep anyone occupied for at least 20 hours. Helping players get to grips with the game is the 'Mob Tactics' tutorial mode; a decent video tutorial of how to be a member of the family.
Sticking true to the film whilst writing in a brand new main character must have been a hard task to accomplish. I was actually surprised at how well Aldo was integrated into the story without substantially altering events. Recognizable characters and scenery also help enhance this feeling of being part of the film. Overall the tone is set very well; from beginning to end you feel right at home in 1940's New York.
The battle for New York City is tough. Including the Corleone's there are five families in New York, each wanting a piece of the underground action. Because of this, keeping the Corleone family at the top of the pack is a constant struggle. To maintain your influence you need to show your power by taking over other families rackets and businesses. However, this is not as simple as it seems. Going into all situations guns-a-blazing is a sure fire way to start a mob war. Once one of these starts there are only a few ways to end it; you can either blow up the rival families businesses, bribe an FBI officer, lose some of your own territory, or get yourself killed. Instead it is better to exercise caution and try to negotiate wherever possible. A vendetta meter will track rival families enmity towards the Corleone's; keeping this meter low will make your life considerably easier.
To climb the ranks of the Corleone family, you need respect. Asides from increasing in rank, gaining respect will also give you points to spend on your character through an RPG style leveling system. Respect is earned on completion of missions, but there are several other alternatives to this. Some of the common methods are; 'negotiating' for protection money from shopkeepers, extorting businesses, gaining access to rackets, warehouses and hubs. These activities will all generate both respect and a steady, weekly, income. Killing members from rival families, bribing corrupt cops and even trying it on with ladies of the night will also see an increase in your respect points.
Cash is at the heart of Blackhand Edition, it greatly aids your influence. The main ways of generating income are by completing missions or, as mentioned earlier, taking over rackets and businesses. There is actually fairly little that you can spend this money on; safe-houses, weapons, clothes, recruiting gang members, and bribing cops are your only real expenditures. Money becomes so easy to generate once you get to grips with the game, that a lack of it will never be an issue.
It is important though to make use of the resources cash gets you, especially cops who can be bribed. Showing them 'proper respect' enables you to get away with more crimes and have police assistance in fights. Allies within the family are important too; the further you rise in rank, the stronger your allies become. For a relatively small sum of money you can hire a single member, or if you are feeling in a more dangerous mood you can hire a hit squad. Hit squads consist of four family members who will follow you around until you stop paying them, or until they get 'iced'.
You can also spend money on yourself; splashing out to buy a new house or Mafia attire. Safe-houses are important; not only do they provide the only means to save, but they also protect you from the hostilities of the outside world. Clothes on the other hand make little difference asides from changing your appearance and increasing your respectability.
In porting the game over to the Wii, a few of the games controls have been adapted to incorporate the motion sensing in the Wii-mote and Nunchuck. The most intensive use of these controls are those for combat; in most cases providing an intuitive feel towards the players actions. Hand to hand combat will see you jabbing the Wii-mote and Nunchuck to punch your target, whilst grabbing sees you physically push and slam opponents into objects. The combination of melee moves is rather impressive, and there are also execution moves available. These new features certainly make the game enjoyable and, twisted as it may sound, one of the best is being able to garrote unsuspecting enemies with the Wii-more and Nunchuck.
With firearms you can use the Wii-mote to aim at your opponents; shooting at their weak spots to take them down. There are two ways you can aim, one by pressing + to enter a free aim mode where you have full control over the crosshair by pointing with the Wii-mote. The other lets you lock onto targets with the Z button and move the Wii-mote to slightly adjust the aim Unfortunately the latter method of aiming leaves a lot to be desired, especially for those who like their camera controls inverted. In many cases the aiming ranges from being acceptable, to totally impossible and uncoordinated when the camera views are set to invert.
It's really nice to see that EA have not gone overboard with additional Wii controls; A lot of the time developers seem insistent to include motion-sensing into every aspect of Wii games. Asides from combat, almost every other action in the game is kept simple; this works in the games favour. Although I have some gripes with the camera; controlling it with the D-pad feels clumsy, at times spoiling the gameplay.
The presentation of The Godfather is good. The settings reflect the movie well enough for you to enjoy the game. However, the graphics are not something to blow you away, bland textures and pop-ups let the game down in places. New York City itself covers a fair distance, if not to the scale of GTA cities. Much has been cramped into the map, making it's exploration a lengthy process. Adding to the exploration element are 100 hidden film reels that, when collected, gain the player respect and allow access to unlockable movie clips.
The music in Blackhand Edition really gives a good feel for atmosphere set by the visuals. Supporting this further is the good quality voice acting in place throughout the game; most characters sound close enough to how they should. At times there seems to be a lack of sound, especially when driving around the city. An in-car radio would have been a wise addition.
All in all, The Godfather Blackhand Edition is a welcome and respected member to the Wii family. It will last you a good solid 20 hours, and will keep you entertained for the most. The use of motion sensing works well in heightening the gaming experience and it feels well suited to the Wii. There are a few kinks to the system that stop it from being perfect, but it is a more than decent attempt.
Simply put, if you loved the films you should enjoy this game. It does good justice to the highly reputable franchise. As the first Adult rated game for the Wii, it shows great promise for the future. Capiche?