One year after their gaming debut, the Corleones invade Nintendo territory in The Godfather Blackhand Edition, a mafia tale energized by the Wii's unique controls.
Blackhand follows the same plot as previous Godfather iterations, which all stay true to the film. Driven by the violent death of your parents, you take the role of an up-and-comer in the Corleone crime family.
Presentation is solid, on par with the PlayStation 2 or classic Xbox. City details are sharp, and overall sound — from weapon effects to The Godfather's signature soundtrack — add to the Francis Ford Coppola feel.
Since Blackhand is a Wii title, the series' biggest change is in the controls, which offer a refreshing spin on the action. Hand-to-hand combat is more engaging. Similar to boxing in Wii Sports, you quickly move the nunchuk and remote forward to jab or across your body for hooks. Holding down the directional pad before a punch adds power.
Players can also make a series of grab moves to dole out further punishment. Using the controllers' trigger buttons, you can pick up foes and toss them against a wall or table — or over a ledge for you Sonny types. Arguably the coolest move is the strangle. After grabbing an opponent, make quick flicks away then forward to wrap your hands around an opponent's neck. Shaking the controllers forward and back simulates strangling an enemy to death.
Most of the moves in Blackhand are easy to execute, although there were moments where the Wii controls seemed finicky to me, especially when reloading weapons. I sometimes needed to flick the nunchuk a couple times before it would reload. Timing punches is also tricky at first, but highly entertaining once you delve into the game's many opportunities to bring the pain.
Gunplay has been tweaked slightly but is mostly unimpressive. The nunchuk trigger locks in your target while you fire with the remote trigger. As with the first Godfather game, the lock doesn't automatically flip to the next live target, forcing you to release and then grab the trigger again to establish a new target. Just like the original, that's highly annoying. Cycling between weapons is also awkward.
New to the action are hit squads — the ability to call in the cavalry if you're stuck in a tough fight. For a price, you can call four Corleone cohorts to assist you in tougher battles. Occassionally they come in handy, but your computer opponents are very forgiving and present little challenge.
This Godfather still has open-ended action. Roam the city freely to embark on your main objectives or make side missions to increase your rank within the family. Shaking down businesses is particularly entertaining with Blackhand's control scheme.
For fans familiar with The Godfather franchise, Blackhand Edition is a worthy rental. But for those interested in the world of organized crime, the Wii may be their best introduction to the family.