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The Godfather Five Families review

Godfather Five Families review

Browser based MMO

Publisher: Kabam Games

The Godfather: Five Families isn’t a terrible game; it’s a decent example of the genre but

The Godfather Five Families "If you love the genre and are looking for something that isn’t a million miles different to what you enjoy playing any way, you should take a look at Five Families"" reviewed by Mat Growcott, Written on Rating: 3 stars


I’m a huge fan of the first two Godfather films and so it only stands to reason that I’ve been wary of every game I’ve seen based on those films. While the films are fairly deep experiences, finished off by perfect cinematography and acting, the games have tended to shy away from what made the films great and focus instead on running around shooting things. Running around shooting things isn’t going to be a problem in The Godfather: Five Families because it’s a MMORTS. We all know how easy it is to get MMORTS games dreadfully wrong. I’ll admit I came to the game hopeful that it was anything but a complete disaster, because that’s what I expected.

The Godfather review

MMORTS genre and the same faults

The title pops up and the famous Love Theme starts playing over the speakers; it definitely seems like The Godfather. The developers have gone out of their way to make everything seem familiar enough that fans will be at least mildly interested, although for the sake of people interested in playing only because of the films, there aren’t enough references to make it worth your while. In terms of design and play, however, it’s exactly like any other MMORTS and shares the same faults as almost everything else in the genre. When I think of the possibilities – something more like the original Gangsters game perhaps – I can’t help but feel we’ve had a bit of a raw deal, although that doesn’t necessarily make Five Families a bad game in and of itself.

Godfather Five Families review

Variety of tasks to perform

From the beginning of the game you’ll get to choose from one of two characters, a male or a female. From that point on you’re in the tutorial and, a rare feat for an MMORTS, you’ll have multiple things to be getting on with straight from the get-go. While some games very carefully pick the order of things you should be doing, and punish you with a lack of resources when you stray from the tutorial, Five Families offers a variety of tasks that you can perform, with a reward for each. For the overly cautious, one mission will always be marked as recommended, but choice is the key and you’re not forced into anything (or rather, you’re not forced into anything too specific).

Fantastic Art style

Graphically, Five Families is something else – the art style is pretty fantastic and amongst the absolute best for the MMORTS genre. The characters aren’t exactly memorable (despite there being SO many!) and there aren’t a huge amount of maps to look at, but what’s there is nice enough that it’s noticeable. The Love Theme from The Godfather is one of my favourite pieces of film score ever (it was used by the composer several years before for a completely different film, so it’s not technically fresh from The Godfather, but it’s still nice) but it soon becomes repetitive when on a loop. Thankfully, you can turn it off without any hastle whatsoever, another feature that has been strangely absent from several of our more recent forays into the genre.

Control, control and control

There are three main maps, as is standard in an MMORTS. The neighbourhood allows you to build things like factories for resources, hideouts to hire thugs and restaurants to keep your soldiers fighting on. It’s quite big compared to other games and you can move around the area by dragging the mouse. Expanding your influence means upgrading the second of the maps, the estate. This is where you control your most important building – the armoury, the workshop, the garage. This is also where you can do the research needed to improve certain skills and boost resources. The last map is the city map, from here you can attack rival players for respect and reward. Each looks nice and is fairly easy to use, offering neat descriptions as you grow your crime empire.

Don't play this game on your own

The problem is, your crime empire is hardly an empire at all. Rather than actively trying to build a crime family not unlike the ones featured in the films, you’ll find yourself sitting around, waiting to be told whether or not your battles have been successful, waiting for confirmation that a mission is complete or, if you’re not the sort of person who is especially focussed, just sitting around waiting. As you complete the earlier, quicker missions, you find yourself waiting longer and longer for the same sorts of things and you can’t help but come to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it. If you have friends playing on Facebook, fantastic, but if you hope to play this constantly and alone, I shouldn’t bother.

Free to play, right! 

Five Families is free-to-play and it’s one of those free-to-play games that like to remind you, constantly, that it is free-to-play and that you can move things on quicker by choosing to pay. You’re reminded of this quite frequently, whenever there’s an option to speed things up. At the top of the page there’s also a constantly visible option of linking your game to Facebook. This is helpful if you want to access the game from your profile, but comes with the downside of spamming your friends with advertisements. Constantly being reminded that you’re playing the game for free and the constant begging that you get your friends involved is a pretty bit turn off but something that you get used to if you play any number of free-to-play MMOs.

PvP battles

There are several social features that will attempt to connect you with other gangsters. The most obvious, if you’re playing through Facebook, is the constant notifications that can be sent out. I’m not playing through Facebook (I don’t have enough friends to just start throwing them away) but I’m sure you’ve seen them before. You can share every mundane detail of your gangster life with people in the same way that you can share every detail of your real mundane life with people and that’s just great if you like that sort of thing. As well as that, there’s a chat box with the options to talk to everybody on the server, just your family or just your crew. You can also play in PvP battles although I presume these boil down to sitting and waiting to hear the results.

The Godfather: Five Families isn’t a terrible game; it’s a decent example of the genre but, for a game that advertises to be “the first of its kind,” you’ll be seeing an awful lot that you can see elsewhere in better established games that have had longer to iron out some of the bugs. What Five Families needs more than anything is expansion, it needs to be bigger and it needs to offer more than its competitors can, as it is it’s just running along the same old lines. That doesn’t mean that it’s not enjoyable and I’m very interested to see how they expand using the Godfather brand but, for the most part, it’s just used as a gimmick and really that’s an insult to the films and to the fans of the films.

Godfather Five Families review


As a game in itself there’s not much wrong with it that isn’t a problem in almost every MMORTS – the waiting really is endless, the maps fairly static, the cities all the same, the battle practically non-existent – and so if you love the genre and are looking for something that isn’t a million miles different to what you enjoy playing any way, you should take a look at Five Families. You’re not going to be disappointed. On the other hand, it lacks any real reason to keep playing and people that need plot or reward outside of resources are going to want to look into something a little less generic. Since it’s still in beta, I’m secretly hoping to be able to come back in twelve months and see that they’ve shook things up slightly. As it is at the minute though, thanks in part to their use of the Godfather brand, I’m not impressed.

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