|EA Games (PS2, Xbox)
While Francis Ford Coppola would have you believe that this game is blasphemous to the legacy of the Godfather saga - he said those very words - just remember who directed Part III. Tisk, tisk. Really, EA's take on The Godfather is a thoughtful companion piece, a Mafioso sandbox that lets you settle some scores in the world of the films without consequence to the trilogy's street cred or its story.
As a no-name thug climbing the criminal ladder, you'll witness Sonny get tommy-gunned at the tollbooth, escort the injured Don's ambulance to the hospital, and play courier for that infamous horse head (no signature required). James Caan, Robert Duvall, and even Marlon Brando (who recorded dialogue before he died) reprise their roles, sending you on various jobs through a massive, grimy 1940s Big Apple. Think Grand Theft Auto: The Puzo Edition.
It's impressively fat with detail, albeit repetitive; every room seems to have been designed by an interior decorator obsessed with cheap wood paneling. The tradeoff is an impeccably digitized cast of characters (check out the jowls on the Don), making the game both familiar and fun. And it should only look slicker in 16:9 widescreen when the Xbox 360 version falls off a truck this summer.
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