Just like no Sicilian can refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day, no CNET.com.au games journalist can refuse a request to play previews of much anticipated upcoming titles. So when Electronic Arts extended an offer to play The Godfather: The Game recently, we certainly couldn't refuse.

The Godfather: The Game puts you in the role of a young mobster taken under the wing of the Corleone family. Featuring Grand Theft Auto-like gameplay, the game's storylines intersect with those of the cult 1972 movie, and features voice acting from some of the film's cast (including Marlon Brando).

Our brief hands-on time with The Godfather spanned the first few missions. Fans of the film will be pleased to know that the game has a very cinematic feel - there are plenty of cutscenes and interactions with characters from the movie, making it feel almost like a sequel of sorts. The violence in the films also makes the leap into the videogame world - within the first half hour you'll see brutal gangland executions, vicious beatings and more.

Gameplay itself will be familiar to anyone who's ever played GTA - gamers are set loose in a large, virtual city filled with passers-by, police and vehicles. And just like GTA, players in The Godfather can interact with the game world in any way - cars can be jacked, pedestrians can be robbed or assaulted, and rival gang members can be attacked, for starters.

Violence isn't your only recourse, however. Most characters you interact with have pressure bars which dictate how susceptible they are to your requests. One early mission, for example, requires you to "change the mind" of a local butcher who is paying protection to a rival family. Increasing his pressure bar will make him agree to do what you say - this can be done by either threatening him or by destroying some of his property. Push him too much, however, and he'll fight back. EA tells us that as your character progresses through the game, his increased reputation and standing will make it easier to influence non-playable characters.

Vehicle controls are similar to the GTA series, but The Godfather takes a different direction when it comes to hand to hand combat. The game features a similar control scheme to titles such as the PS2's Rise To Honour, where attacks are initiated by pushing the right analog stick in whatever direction players wish to strike. Players are also given the option to grab opponents, shove them against walls or pull them into a standing position.

The Godfather: The Game is slated for release for the PS2, Xbox and PC in late March (and for the Xbox 360 and PSP later this year). Check back soon for a full review.

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