By Duff McDonald
Marlon Brando has cotton balls stuffed in his cheeks. In five months the legendary actor will die of lung failure, but now he’s deep in character, summoning the spirit of the capo di tutti capi one last time in his home on Mulholland Drive. “I would like you to go see this man and discover what makes him tick,” he says in Don Corleone’s strained whisper. “Then we can make him an offer and see if justice truly is on our side.”
The line wasn’t in The Godfather or either of the sequels, but it will be in The Godfather game this fall. To capture Corleone’s final performance for gamemaker Electronic Arts, creative director Philip Campbell showed up at Brando’s Los Angeles mansion with a portable DAT recorder, a shotgun mike, and a lavalier mike. “It was just the two of us, sitting in his living room,” says Campbell, who spent three hours with the actor in February 2004 recording the game’s script. “When we signed the deal to do The Godfather, we never dreamed we’d actually get Brando.”
Brando seemed to know exactly what Campbell was after. “He told me that his performance in the movie was really created by the audience, that he didn’t feel like he was acting,” Campbell says. “He seemed to understand that the performances in a videogame are created interactively as well.” Brando even treated Campbell to an impromptu reprise of the “I coulda been a contender” scene from On the Waterfront. “As I walked out, I remember feeling like I’d actually been standing there in front of that desk,” Campbell says, “and that he’d granted me a favor.”
And there you have it. Videogames and Hollywood have been colliding in slow motion for two decades. But the collaboration between the man many call the greatest actor of all time and the gamemaker acknowledged as the most powerful in the world is a sign that the show is finally on - and coming in November to a console near you.
For EA, it’s not a moment too soon.
The Don asks a personal favor of the player – one of his old Judge ‘Friends’ has just died and his younger successor is proving difficult. The player must tail the Judge until he discovers his ‘secret’ and enter into F2F discussion with him to win him over.
“Tom has informed me of all that you have achieved, and I would like to ask a personal favor of you.”
“I had a very good friend, a Judge by the name of Salvatore Reggamento. A very good friend indeed, but he was old, and he has died. And now I find his successor, a much younger man, does not seem to value my honest opinion…”
“He never wanted my friendship. And he is afraid to be in my debt. Now he comes to me with the law on his side, talking about justice – but he doesn’t speak with respect, he doesn’t offer friendship. He doesn’t even think to call me Godfather. What have I ever done to make him treat me so disrespectfully?”
“I would like you to go to this man, and discover what makes him tick. Then we can make him an offer, and see if Justice truly IS on our side.” (If the player does not carry out the mission in timely fashion)
“I am saddened to hear that you have not yet done what I asked of you.” (If the player continues to ignore the Favor)
“Perhaps Tom could help you to complete that small Favor of mine.”
This is compulsory mission that is based on the first major interaction between the Player and Don Vito. Certain parallels can be drawn to the death of Genco Abbandando and the scene in GF2 where Michael has to deal with Senator Geary. Don Vito provides the mission outline, and Tom provides the details.
This dramatic ‘Coronation’ will directly feature Don Corleone up-close-and-personal as he initiates the Player into the Family at the Corleone Compound. This scene will be intercut with a montage of newspapers and other images reflecting the passing of time between 1946 and 1950.
This will be the second of the ‘Promotion’ ceremonies, and is intended as a non-interactive sequence that bridges the change in Act and the time difference. A montage sequence will feature some voice-over interplay between Sonny and Tom Hagen.
TOM HAGEN (V/O) (sighs): Since McCluskey’s killing, the police have been cracking down on most of our operations—and also the other Families. There’s been a lot of bad blood.
SONNY (V/O): They hit us so—we hit ‘em back.
TOM HAGEN (V/O): Through our contacts in the newspapers, we’ve been able to put out a lot of material about McCluskey being linked with Sollozzo in the drug rackets. See—things are starting to loosen up.
SONNY (V/O): They fear me, Tom, they won’t take me lightly…but Michael -
TOM HAGEN (V/O): Christ, Sonny, this war has raged for months, we -
SONNY (V/O): We’ve made mistakes. I see that. Maybe we needed Michael here -
TOM HAGEN (V/O): - We’ve got the new guy, now he’s been ‘made’. (Reflects)Guess he ain’t so new. He’s good – use him. But c’mon, Sonny, we gotta ease up…negotiate -
SONNY (V/O): You see (voice rising) – YOU SEE!? That’s where the Irish come out in you, all that “Ease up” and “Take it easy” shit. No disrespect, but a SICILIAN consigliere would only pull that negotiation shit if it was backed up by a knife to the throat…
TOM HAGEN (V/O): That’s GERMAN-Irish… Sonny, you’re my brother, but sometimes you can be a bastard. A bastard. You know what I do for this Family, always have done for this Family –
SONNY (V/O): Aw, Christ, Tom. I’m sorry. You know you’re my brother, ever since the day I brought you here. You’ve got your way, I agree – and my way is my way. But let’s face facts here. The killing’s not done…