January 11, 2007 - Coinciding with the official announcement of The Godfather Blackhand Edition for Nintendo Wii EA Senior Producer Joel Wade sat down to chat with IGN about the upcoming release, specifics on the game's unique control, and EA's future with the Wii console.
IGN: For Wii owners unfamiliar with The Godfather, what type of game is it and who do you play as?
Wade: The Godfather Blackhand Edition is an emergent open-world 3rd person action game taking place in 1940's New York. The player assumes the role of a low-level gangster who quickly joins the Corleone family and over the course of the story, works his way up in the ranks to soldier, capo, and ultimately Don. While the player's story isn't the same as the book and movie, it intersects with all of the great moments we know and love…. so for example, when Don Corleone is shot, you need to fight off his attackers and get him to the hospital. When a horse's head needs to be delivered to a certain bed, you get to be the guy. Whenever the family needs something done, you're the Don's right hand man, taking orders directly from Sonny, Luca, Don Corleone, Tom Hagan… all the main characters from the movie.
In addition to the main story thread, however, the penultimate goal of the game is to take over the entire city, neighborhood by neighborhood. This involves not only extorting over a hundred unique businesses for "protection", but also dozens of hit contracts, bank heists, and favor missions. Of course the other four families won't take this lying down, but firebombing their family compounds can take them out of the picture for good.
IGN: How is the Godfather for Wii different from the previously released versions of the title?
Wade: The biggest difference is how we use the Wii controls to immerse players in combat. On other platforms, the Blackhand fighting system is a "Fight Night" style control scheme built for mobsters; on Wii, our team decided to make it like REAL brawling. You'll be able to throw left and right hand jabs, hooks, and uppercuts; grab enemies and throw them around with both hands; perform head-butts and neck-snaps... We had so much fun with the controller possibilities that we mo-capped a bunch of exclusive moves to fit some of the gestures we'd developed, like the open-handed smack and pistol whip. At the end of the day, we want players to feel like the Wii controller was designed with the Godfather in mind!
Officer there must be some kinda mistake here... (Xbox Version)
IGN: How do the controls work? Please go into detail, explaining precisely what the Wii remote and nunchuk attachment are utilized for.
Wade: From the first day of development, we focused on making the Blackhand gestures easy and intuitive to perform. The approach we took was to make the Nunchuk act as an extension of the player's left hand while the Wii Remote would represent the player's right hand. Forward jabs and hooks are your basic moves, but you can also charge attacks, or grab enemies by holding the two shoulder buttons. When grabbing, slam both hands forward to push someone up against a wall, or pull both hands towards your body for a head-butt. You can swing and throw enemies around in a similar fashion. With a bat or crowbar, you can perform different melee weapon attacks by swinging the Wii remote in different directions. Finally, all our firearm aiming is performed with the Wii remote (in two different modes: free-aim and lock-on). We still have standard target-locking, but by modifying your aim with the Wii remote, you can make precision shots like disarming a guy in the shoulder, dropping him with a hit to the knee, or taking him out with a single headshot.
IGN: How does The Godfather for Wii look compared to the other versions? What visual techniques/feats are you most proud of?
Wade: We're really pleased with the visuals we were able to achieve on the Wii. We're big believers in committing a large chunk of system resources to the visual effects system, and are especially pleased with how well our fire, explosions, and firearm effects came through. We've also spent a lot of engineering time into making the lighting as strong as it can possibly be on the hardware, with dynamic lighting and weather effecting the building and character lighting so you see big changes happening minute to minute as the sun sets and the moon rises.
IGN: Are there any content-related changes to the game in its transition to Wii?
Wade: With five new hit missions, remade Family compound raids, and new businesses to takeover, The Godfather Blackhand Edition has some of the most challenging conditions yet. On hidden missions, you can now also find the dirt on crooked cops and blackmail the Police Chiefs in each of the five territories. The new Hit Squad features has you summoning a four man squad to watch your back as you go on bigger and badder missions. Finally, we added two new ways to take your character from Soldier to Don, follow the path of an Enforcer or Operator and unlock the special abilities for each.
IGN: Why should Wii owners be excited about the project, in your opinion?
Wade: I think the most exciting think for Wii owners is the ability to have an extremely deep, living-world game in their collections. The Blackhand combat system feels so natural and intuitive on the Wii controllers-- people are going to have a fantastic time "convincing" shop owners to pay protection money, and delivering beat-downs to rival family gangsters. If people think Wii Sports boxing is a blast, imagine taking out a baseball bat to "un-even" the odds… or even grabbing your opponent by the lapels and throwing him through a window.
It seems pretty cool that it's going to be coming to the Wii, but I'm sure many people who have owned a Ps2 and Xbox have already flipped this game. If I hadn't played the game for the Ps2, I would be hyped up for this, but it's going to be a good game nonetheless.