The Godfather II
16th Jan 2009 | 11:14
We recently had a sit down with Godfather II executive producer Hunter Smith about the upcoming crime sequel and how it seems to be coming out of nowhere. Pull up a chair and grab yourself an espresso.
We haven't seen that much of the game to date. Why has it been kept so closely guarded?
Smith: Basically open world games take time to come together. When you make a level-based game you can finish one level a year ahead of time and then go around and show it to the press and then go and build the rest of the game. When you make an open-world game everything kind of comes together at the very end.
Where are you now then?
Smith: We're done.
Where does the balance lie between sandbox action and strategy in Godfather II?
Smith: Conceptually the product's 75 percent action, 25 percent strategy. As a player you have a pretty wide range of flexibility. You can decide to be pretty offensive with your guys and send them out to do a lot of things for you... or you can decide you want to do them yourself.
Just from a concept point of view around 25 percent of the time you're thinking about what you're going to do next and upgrading your guys' skills and leveraging them to your advantage. It just depends how much of action you want to get into yourself.
You can decide you want to take over all of the things [rivals' businesses] yourself and only use your guys with you or only use your guys for defence, so you can end up playing it a couple of different ways.
Might some players find the strategy aspects of the game a little intimidating or off-putting, and could they go all-out action if they wanted?
Smith: People ask me that question all the time and personally I feel like there's nothing intimidating about it. We walk you through it in terms of the game's design. When you play any open-world game you constantly go back to the map to figure out what you're going to do next.
The difference with what we're doing is that now the map's alive so that different things will change around you [based on the antics of other families].
We really did a lot to make it not intimidating nor dry and boring, so it's not so deep where you're spending hours on lots of statistics and information.
It comes to you as you're playing the action game, you'll get updates about what's going on, and you can then press the button to go to the [RTS-like] Don's view [where you oversee the entire world as you grow the family business] and make decisions if you want to, or don't pay attention to them because you're playing the game. So it can be hugely action orientated, you just have to think about what you're going to do next.
Can you tell us about the most significant updates to the series' combat system?
Smith: I think our combat experience is the best in the genre. It's a very intuitive experience. To go hand-to-hand we moved from having to lock on to everybody just to interact with them and then stick mashing to right and left controls so you really feel that you're tied into your avatar in terms of your right and left hands. We also added combos because we have the right and left experience.
Our shooting experience is completely free aim all the time. You can then lock on and move within the lock on window for headshots or knee shots or to shoot a weapon out of a guy's hand.
So we leveraged what we thought was best last time and then took it to the next level to tie you closer to the avatar, so you can still grab guys and swing them from side to side or throw them over a balcony.
The intimidation and extortion experience is still a key part of the game that allows you to take over all the venues inside the game, so that's really at the heart of what you're doing inside of the action experience, fighting your way through the dons of the other families, either by hand-to-hand or with you weapons.
And then we've added crew to the experience, so that's a big part of our action game that really makes us stand out and it's really what it means to be a don, having a family and having guys work for you. Strategically you get to decide what specialties you want them to have, so you decide what attributes you want to spend money on to increase to make them better at, and we also tie it into one economy. Last time we had a respect economy and then a money economy, but this time we have one economy experience. Organised crime is about money and so we focused on that.
Have driving elements taken a back seat in the game?
Smith: I wouldn't say we scaled back. We actually have more vehicles and they're tuned in a wider variety of ways than they were in The Godfather.
[However], in the genre we're not trying to be the winner on the most number of mechanics or the most number of vehicles. The Godfather's about organised crime, so the decisions we made were about being in that fantasy and in that space. Racing cars was not necessarily a major component of what we were focusing on for organised crime.
Can you tell us about the multiplayer side of the game and about how it's closely linked to the single player experience?
Smith: When you play multiplayer you play as your family members. The modes [Safecracker, Fire Starter, Demolitions and Team Deathmatch] are designed to leverage each of their different skills so no matter which guy you bring in there you'll be able to score honour points. When you score honour points in multiplayer you'll bring them back to single player and you can use them to upgrade the weapon license that your crew member can carry inside the game.
So when you play single player and move throughout the map you find the upgraded weapons throughout the world you can equip them to yourself automatically, [but] to equip them to your guys they have to have the right weapon license, so you can either hire guys with higher level weapon licenses or you take them online and earn honours to bring back to single player.
All the RPG attributes that you spend money on in single player to increase the ability of your guys will affect how you play as those guys in multiplayer. And obviously the money you earn in multiplayer comes back into the single player experience, and the upgraded weapons you get in the single player can be taken online.
Is there a demo planned for the game?
Smith: No, not at this point.
Is that something you still might look at?
Smith: We've talked about it but I'm not sure or not.
Are you already working on DLC now the game's complete?
Smith: Yeah, as we've just hit final stages now we've got some people working on some DLC.
Are you looking at adapting Godfather II for Wii or releasing a new Wii Godfather game.
Smith: At this point we're not.