EA unveils its "family business" in New York.
NEW YORK--How do you make a game based on a beloved movie and book franchise that's known the world over? Such is the question that Electronic Arts' Redwood Shores studio faced roughly two years ago. There are challenges aplenty for any developer setting out to make the best game it can, but all that gets taken up several notches when you factor in expectations from the fans of a classic film franchise. While the daunting task could be intimidating enough to frighten off some, the fine folks at EARS appear to be enthusiastically up to the challenge...if the game's official unveiling in New York tonight is any indication of the team's drive. At an event held in Little Italy this evening, EA offered those in attendance a taste of what to expect from the long-awaited video game version of The Godfather.
The presentation opened with an introduction from EA's Jeff Brown, who set the stage for the evening's unveiling. Aside from the expected tip of the hat to the assorted business partners tapped to bring the game about, Brown also singled out James Caan (Santino 'Sonny' Corleone), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), and John Martino (Paulo Gato), who were on hand as well. The trio of actors represented just some of the movie talent EA has reassembled to participate and help bring the game to life. Overall, the group totals more than 20 actors seen in the original film, and the game even includes voice work from the late, great Marlon Brando. Brown also mentioned the only damper of the evening from the start: The Godfather wouldn't be playable until E3. According to Brown, the game was nine to 10 months away from release.
Brown then ceded the stage to executive producer David Demartini, who offered some background on the game's development and introduced several clips that represented a mix of cinematics and gameplay intended to give a taste of what to expect from the game. The Godfather's two-year development cycle included a full year of preproduction so the team could focus its vision on just how the game would live up to the hallowed film classic.
So just what is that vision? First we saw a clip of montage footage from the film that highlighted three key elements that are central to the story: family, loyalty, and, of course, fear. Demartini then shared the team's vision. Rather than adhering strictly to the film and novel incarnation of The Godfather, EA's goal is to put you in the world of the film. You'll play a character of your own creation (courtesy of a Tiger Woods-style game face-creator interface). While the interface is flexible, don't plan on getting too crazy, as you'll be limited to a male character with Italian-American features to ensure you fit into the game's 10-year story arc that will take place from 1944 to 1955.
Your virtual Italian self will be an up-and-coming mobster who gets the opportunity to join the Corleone family. Your experience in the game will be shaped by the factors that influence any ambitious mafioso: respect, family, expanding your territory, and the repercussions of the choices you make in your life. The life you lead will form part of The Godfather's narrative, which will closely weave your experiences with the events from The Godfather story everyone knows. This means you can expect to find yourself experiencing familiar moments from the film firsthand. To polish up the new elements and fold them into the existing Puzo lore, creative director Philip Campbell worked with Mark Winegardner (the current torchbearer of The Godfather franchise) to ensure everything worked together smoothly.
The first clip shown was a cinematic that showed the untimely demise of Don Vito Corleone. The cinematic appeared to be running in-engine and admirably re-created the visuals from the film. Demartini noted that the game will draw on the original score from Nino Rota and will also tap Academy Award-winning composer Bill Conti for around 100 additional minutes of score that's being tweaked to match the game's dynamic action, on the fly, as it unfolds.
This action will take place in a living world the team is crafting to offer a sandbox experience that doesn't appear to be too far removed from what's been done in the Grand Theft Auto series. Demartini's description of the world that's being created for the game hit all the buzzwords you'd expect, with mentions of "freedom of choice, nonlinearity, and consequences." To back up his points, an actual clip of the game then ran, which showed the main-player character going through his neighborhood and interacting with the locals. The reactions from the residents showed off some subtle effects, mostly done through body language, which signaled their attitudes toward the character. Some head tracking was visible and suggested that your effect on people will be tied to the level of respect you have in the game and your notoriety among them. Mention was also made of how your lifestyle in the game will affect your experience. Interestingly, the respect mechanic seems like the next step in reputation-based gameplay, much like in Fable.
- Release Date: Sep 19, 2006 (US)
- Release Date: Mar 21, 2006 (US)
- Release Date: Apr 2, 2007 (AS)